My Own Goal Board

My Own Goal Board

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Reader's Choice 20th Anniversary Edition

My Own Goal Board

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

~T.S. Eliot

In 1988, I was the editor-in-chief of my high school newspaper, Skyline. I had big dreams of becoming a globetrotting, investigative journalist, but I also had big dreams for Skyline. I had three main goals: have Skyline join three new scholastic journalism organizations, have Skyline win the prestigious All-KEMPA newspaper award, and take my hardworking staff to New York City for the Columbia University high school journalism conference.

I had no idea how I was going to achieve these goals, but I believed they were possible. In fact, after reading my mom’s copy of Chicken Soup for the Soul, I figured out how I was going to do it. The story, “Glenna’s Goal Book” gave me the blueprint. Her principle: I x V = R, which is short for Imagination mixed with Vividness becomes Reality, spoke to me.

I, like Glenna, believed that God gives us “the desires of our heart,” and my Skyline goals were written on my personal prayer list. But what I didn’t have were pictures of my goals to help me actualize them. So, I started cutting photos out of magazines and newsletters. For the first goal, I cut out the names of the journalism associations I wanted Skyline to join. For the second, I cut out a picture of the All-KEMPA award, and above it, I printed out the words, in big capital letters. For the third, I cut out photos of New York’s gorgeous skyline and a photo of a previous conference.

Since these goals weren’t just for me — they were for my entire newsroom — I didn’t put them in a photo album. Instead, I tacked them all up on the bulletin board in our office. There, every day, when we made phone calls, wrote stories or worked on layout, we’d see the pictures of our goals, and it wouldn’t be just me seeing them.

The first goal was the easiest to achieve. I simply talked to our newspaper advisor, Miss Miller, and she approved a budget item that would allow us to join three scholastic journalism organizations. I was pretty impressed with how well the IVR principle was working, but most of my fellow editors and reporters were not as wowed.

However, not a month after pushing all the tacks into the corkboard, our second big goal was realized. Our entire staff took an all-day field trip to the All-KEMPA journalism conference. Everyone gasped when Willowbrook High School’s Skyline was named the All-KEMPA newspaper of the year. It was surprising, but we had worked really hard for the last two years so some of my co-editors were not willing to ascribe the win to my goal board.

The last goal — getting our staff to New York City — seemed completely impossible. But I refused to give up. I knew we could get there. I researched how other newspapers funded conferences, approached local businesses for sponsorships, tried to drum up extra revenue for the paper, and even wrote a grant proposal that I sent to the school district office.

It was to no avail. No grants. No sponsorships. Not even our advertising budget would budge. Still, I maintained to myself, and I proclaimed to my staff, that we would be going to New York. Not going was not an option. Finally, the week before I was scheduled to fly out to Washington, D.C. to participate in Presidential Classroom (one of my own personal dreams that I had achieved), I sat down with my staff of eleven, and I asked them, “Who stands with me to go to New York City?” My best friend Venetia immediately said yes, but only three other members of our staff — Tom, Glenn and Ali — agreed. The rest, including my assistant editor, had excuses. “Jeanette, don’t get your hopes up,” or “Jeanette, this just isn’t a realistic idea,” or, my favorite, “I just don’t think I want to go.”

So I wrote a revised proposal changing the budget from eleven students to five, and I sent the proposal back to the district office. While I was in D.C., Venetia called me. “You’ll never believe it — but someone in the district office likes us. They were impressed with all the awards our paper has won so they’re completely funding our trip!”

And what a trip it was. We got limo rides to and from the airport because Miss Miller and the five of us couldn’t fit into a single cab. We stayed in a plush Manhattan hotel. We saw Les Miserables — from front-row seats! We looked out from the top of the Empire State Building, dined in Chinatown and Little Italy, and learned so much about journalism and writing. For the six of us, including Miss Miller, it was the trip of a lifetime!

I’ve since made dozens of other goal boards, with goals as whimsical as swimming with dolphins and as serious as finding my soul mate. I did become an investigative newspaper reporter, and I’ve traversed the globe, including a visit with dolphins. I’m now an award-winning food and travel author, I’m married to an amazing man, and we have a wonderful son. I’ve even started doing corkboards for him, and he’s just three years old.

The most curious thing about my very first goal board is what happened after the school district decided to fund my dream. As soon as we got the go-ahead, the six naysayers on staff decided they, too, wanted to go to New York. It was too late, however; my revised — and accepted — proposal only budgeted for five believers.

So, you see, it’s not just picking out images that speak to your dreams and aspirations, It’s really believing in your goals, really convincing yourself that they are attainable, and really knowing that you deserve to have them come true. There’s no such thing as an impossible dream, but there are people who are afraid to dream. Dare to dream big. And get some tacks for your corkboard.

~Jeanette Hurt

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