Today I want to talk about goals. Specifically, I want to talk about the differences between the big ones and the little ones.
When I was an assistant designer at a different publishing house than the one I work out now, I had a conversation with one of my bosses about goals. At the time, I was designing the occasional paperback book cover and jacket. I hadn't yet had a chance to do a truly original hardcover, much less a whole season of my own book cover designs, and I was expressing my desire for these bigger opportunities to one of my managers.
"What are your goals?" She asked me.
"I want to design my own frontlist title," I said, which is publishing jargon for a brand-new, shiny, never-been-published book. She laughed, and I was taken aback. Getting my own book cover = a step in the direction of becoming a badass book designer, and I was offended that she was laughing.
"I'm not laughing at you," she clarified, because my displeasure was probably painted all over my face. "I'm laughing because I was exactly the same way when I was in your position."
She went on to tell me a story about when she was a young designer and was asked by her boss what her goals were. She’d said she wanted to be an associate art director, and she got laughed at too. Why associate? Why not a straight up art director? Why not creative director, or award-winning design champion of the world?
I think about that conversation a lot, because I’m still figuring out how to define my big goals. What does it say about me that I'm someone who looks at the next thing on the list instead my weekly, monthly, or yearly plans? I’m guess I find the big goals daunting, and breaking one into a million smaller pieces is much easier for me to manage.
I think about this a lot when I run. When I lived in Manhattan, I ran the Reservoir in Central Park probably three hundred times. It’s basically a big circle around a lake (you’ve probably seen it when someone gets murdered in the park on Law and Order: SVU), and if I looked all the way across and thought about how I had to run that whole distance just to get halfway I would immediately feel tired. But if I just focused on getting to the next streetlight, running the whole path was a breeze (okay, not a breeze, but it was definitely easier). But more importantly, it was more fun to do it that way.
Since starting this project, I've decided to steer into the fact that I make my little daily goals precise and keep my big goals vague and a little nebulous, at least for now. It is definitely a seriously meta goal of mine to figure out those big goals, and I think I’m getting there. But this whole exercise is about baby steps— It’s about feeling a little bit better every day, and trying something different than I did the day before while striving for better instead of more. If I feel better in what I’m wearing, I’ll feel more confident in everything else I’m doing, and hopefully that will domino into other big, productive changes and realizations.
I’ve almost finished the first capsule, and I’m starting to reflect on the mini-goals I’ve accomplished in this short span of time. Changing out of yoga pants on the weekends, seeking out an outfit that makes me feel empowered for a specific meeting, finding looks that are comfortable and versatile while also being stylish— those are some of them.
It's about the clothes, but it isn’t. It's about feeling just a little better about myself in them so that I'm more able to handle everything else in life. The somewhat stressful and ominous Big Goal is still looming out there, and I'll hunt it down eventually.