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Goals, Projects and Trees

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Growing up at Christmas time, my family always had artificial Christmas trees. I recall one was plastic, and each year we would place the pieces of the tree inside pegs on a pole. The pole was attached to a platform, and when you pressed a button, the tree would turn and play music.

In my life, I have only had a real tree once. I was single, living with a group of roommates in an apartment. Next door to our home was a tree lot, and a group that rehabilitated ex-felons on parole ran the lot. My roommates purchased a tree from that lot one year and decorated it.

At the end of the Christmas season, we tossed the tree out in the trash. This was the last time I had a real tree.

My wife and I have an artificial tree. She purchased it at a Black Friday sale about 15 years ago. Each year we take the tree out, unpack the decorations, decorate the tree. We leave it up until New Year’s Day, and then we take it down.

This isn’t a post about real trees v.s artificial trees. I want to share what I have noticed and a lesson learned by observing trees.

Each year around this time, you will see trees thrown away. I notice them on my walks around the neighborhood. It is fascinating to me. Just a month ago, these trees were the center of family celebrations; presents were under them, decorations were on them. A great deal of money was spent on them. Today they line the streets, or they are sitting in trash cans.

I saw a tree standing next to a trash bin the other day. I had this desire to decorate it. Just because. I even thought that maybe next year I will go to the dollar store after Christmas and purchase decorations to decorate one of the thrown away trees.

My curiosity continued to ask, why am I drawn to Christmas Trees that have been discarded and thrown away?

I am not suggesting that we should all buy artificial trees, but here is what I thought. We shouldn’t toss away so quickly items we have invested in. For example, our goals. At the beginning of the year, we set goals, buy planners, sign up for memberships, but right now, where are you are?

Are your goals in the trash can like a thrown away Christmas Tree, or are your goals something you are pursuing?
Christmas comes once a year, but we have 365 days to commit to activities and projects that serve a wide variety of purposes.

In 2021 I decided that I would not use the term goals. Instead, I use the word projects. I can see a project; if I leave a project unfinished, it takes up space. You are forced to deal with it.

Goals to me are statements that vanish in the air once the pressure is applied. A project is something that you can hold that you can give away; you can say I am done. I am finished.

The point isn’t the naming; the action is this, whatever you have committed to this year if you have quit go back and pick it up. If you haven’t, keep going. The world needs more people working towards goals or projects.

 

Comments

  1. Hey Steven,
    Great reflection brought about by you seeing all of these discarded trees. Thanks for sharing the picture of them, too, it adds to what you are saying. Then the link to how we start things and ‘throw these out’ for whatever reason is timely.
    “The point isn’t the naming; the action is this, whatever you have committed to this year if you have quit go back and pick it up. If you haven’t, keep going. The world needs more people working towards goals or projects.”
    This ending is strong. I find that people spend hours debating over whether to have goals or resolutions or how they will map them out or how they will measure them etc etc rather than just doing it. Great call to action!

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