Setting goals is good but just don’t put a deadline on them

Border Mail Column Wednesday 15 February 2012

I’ve been mulling over something for a few weeks.

I do this more often; consider a response rather than immediately express an opinion about an issue, topic or an article I’ve read.

I like to think it’s a sign of maturity, and at my age it’s probably about time.

The opinion piece I’ve been pondering suggested that if we haven’t reached our life’s ambitions by the time we are 35, then we need to reconsider our goals.

The writer admitted to admiring the ‘late starters’ who have achieved their goals later in life, but I still sensed an undercurrent of resignation.

I thought back to what I was doing at 35 – the reverse of the age I am now.

With a six and nine-year  old, I was working in the field I originally did my degree in, public relations, and as it turned out it was the beginning of a mostly positive phase in my life.

Ahead of me a masters degree, two stints with the Australian Olympic team, published fiction and some amazing jobs in this great twin city we live in.

In my personal life there were some challenges: sometimes we have to make changes even if they impact on those around us.

However, back to the article, Making Peace, by former ABC and now Sky News journalist, author and blogger at MamaMia.com.au, Jacinta Tynan.

Ms Tynan did work experience at Prime News where, at 32, I was a senior journalist.

(Coincidentally, during a recent clean up, I found the reference I wrote for her that outlined her talent and predicted a bright future for her in that career.)

I felt just a little sad at the tone of the article; that at 35, it may be all over.

She wondered whether only those of the generation younger than her have it figured out.

We could take a lesson from Gen-Yers, who will change jobs every two to four years without a backward glance. They cop flak for their fickleness but I bet all that transformation is keeping them alive.’

Perhaps Ms Tynan should take a leaf out of the book of the Gen-Joneses: we’re the generation born between 1954 and 1964 with a quite different mindset to the Baby Boomers.

Born to parents who wanted a better life for us than they had experienced during and post World War II, we have enjoyed many benefits, including for many of us a free first degree but we’ve also, either for reasons of self fulfilment or through necessity, had to change course and careers to stay in the workforce far longer than our parents did.

In any generation our ability to adapt and change or even transform is as individual as we are, and can also be influenced along the way by those who mentor and inspire us opening our minds to new possibilities.

For me one of those people wasa former US Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense, Dr Sharon Lord, who I met when I was about to embark on that amazing life changing experience – motherhood.

A petite woman with a strong Tennessee accent, Dr Lord had us draw up a 120-year timeline and set goals for each decade.

These didn’t have to be world breaking, but could be as simple as having a beautiful garden or reading the classics.

My former work experience student has ‘lifted the deadline’ on her dreams, but perhaps she should not look too far in the distance.

As John Lennon so wisely wrote, ‘Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans.’

Making Peace by Jacinta Tynan

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About Robyne Young

Writer, creative writing teacher, editor, columnist. Literary lover. Short story collections, The Only Constant and The Basket and the Briefcase available via website.
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