Life goals revisited

Earlier this year I outlined five major goals for 2012:


  1. Income: earn enough to pay my fair share of the bills and stop panicking about payments
  2. Professional development: find / develop a sound professional niche
  3. Time management: get important things done in time and learn to manage work efficiently
  4. Marriage: contribute more and pay more attention
  5. The fun side: develop musically and in other life quality aspects


Calvin and Hobbes cartoon
or maybe not (Calvin & Hobbes)

I said I would use the blog to follow up on the progress, and this is what has happened so far:

Goal #1: Income

Progress: so I now have a part time job. While it isn’t sufficient in the long term, it helps.

Goal #2: Professional development

My tactical plan for professional development focused on skills I imagined I could use as an online freelancer: software-, visual design- and web competencies. I imagined that online tutorials and quizzes were an approachable way to start but I didn’t do them because after all, it seemed like a waste of time; I am not so competitive in that area that I imagine it can lead me to actual work anytime soon, and I’m not genuinely interested.

The plan built on the only option that seemed viable based on career reflections using a personal SWOT analysis and Myer-Brigg’s Personality Type Indicator. Better ideas and a clearer sense of what I would like to do has since slowly been taking form, and I’m planning to write about my thoughts about them in the near future*.

Goal #3: Time management (organisation) and Goal #4: Marriage

Since I created the goals, I’ve rethought my situation and reframed the way I think about goal setting around the fact that my marriage is the gravity of my life; the one relationship that makes me feel like I have a home on this planet. It is the axis that all the goals evolve around, rather than just a point on the list. The key issues are:

1. We still struggle financiallybecause I don’t pull home a proper income due to underemployment, working part time in a relatively low paid job** which doesn’t require my expensive education (don’t get me wrong, I’m learning a lot and am happy to have the job).

2. We don’t have kids yet, and we’re nearing the fertility expiry date. Kids is my husband’s great wish, and I too think we can offer a good life to kids. We’re a good family (just ask the dogs). The kids just need to be produced and raised, and there’s a number of barriers on that path.

3. I’m a lousy housekeeper. Wives are supposed to be responsible for the lion’s share of the household chores according to the official Gender Roles, but I have never had a stable and efficient routine for doing household chores.

I quickly tire out when I have to multi-task and shift between a multitude of little tasks, forget things, don’t get started, don’t get finished, burn the food because I forget I’m cooking. I rarely do the grocery shopping because I find supermarkets overwhelming, confusing and too noisy, and shopping tends to cause shell-shock for  hours, sometimes the rest of the day. I don’t refuse to shop, but my husband typically does it because he knows that I hate it.

(Let’s not even go into all the other typical wife-expectations such as being hostess-like and chatty about lady-topics… That is happily never going to happen.)

I’m working on improving my life organisation skills, and it is going better. I’ll publish a post about is shortly (not BS – it really is ready to publish).

Goal #5: the fun side / musical development

The ‘fun side’ goal aims to strengthen quality-of-life enhancing skills, so unlike the other goals it isn’t about changes that ought to happen.

The focus is musical development. I love music and sing in my Church’s band, where my husband plays the bass. I function as the lead singer because I have a fairly loud, accurate singing voice and always come to practice. However, I also have major shortcomings and would like to develop as a singer. I would also like to learn to play an instrument really well; preferably piano.

I have an electronic piano so I could find some video tutorials online and start any minute, but with music I actually really need motivation from others – instructions, corrections, inspiration, team spirit, personalised tips & techniques. So I would like to take music tuition: singing and piano lessons when I can afford it.


Coming next:  creating a sense of order. About life organisation, mental capacity, time loss, housework and task management systems.




*After I think them.

**Well paid for this type of job, but low paid compared to a jobs someone with my formal qualifications tends to have this amount of years after leaving uni.



14 thoughts on “Life goals revisited

  1. A Quiet Week

    Good for you! I recall your post about goals and I am glad to see that you are making such progress. I like how systematic you are. It is important to reflect backward and see where you are at and to problem solve.

    I see myself in you, re lady tasks. I have issues with shopping and burning food, too. The infernal smell of blackened rice permeates our house. The only way I can cook is to devote an entire day to it so I don’t need to split my focus. If it is cooking day, I gets lots accomplished, but my hubby complains. He wants fresh food for every meal and that is so not happening.

    As far as making lady-conversation, I wished we lived nearer each other. Wine, laptops and books sounds like a lovely evening. You could always email me if you had gossip! 🙂

    And parenthood. Sigh. I am in my mid-forties and we had Tyoma when I was 39. I love him dearly, and he is phenomenally exhausting. Both E and I are on the spectrum, plus we have a family history of autism and mental illness. We had no idea it would be so difficult to raise a child and are grateful to be able to afford respite care. I watch over him constantly to keep him out of mischie. Motherly angst is compounded by my own over-all, twentieth-century sensory exhaustion. Approach parenthood with caution! I don’t work and take psychiatric meds to cope (I’d probably have to take them anyway–OCD/depression). Gosh, that sounds discouraging, but I speak from my heart. My parents never would have had me if Dad’s vasectomy hadn’t failed.

    Well, let me end on a cheery note–you have tackled your goals well. I think that with a few coping skills (kitchen timer!) you can make even more progress. I like how you write about your marriage being the heart of your world. I feel the same way. Keep on keeping on Mados. I wish you well!

    Happy Day!


    1. Mados

      Thank you so much for your long thoughtful comment. And thanks for the encouragement for making progress!

      I think I do make some progress, and is true that I have a fairly systematic approach to things, but it probably seems more so in writing, where I have time to organise my thoughts before they come out and edit them afterwards! The real world is significantly messier! and real-life editing is currently practically impossible;-)

      Thanks also very much for your input in regard to parenting, your input is very valuable & relevant to me. I think your son is exceedingly lucky for growing up in your family*… with plenty of room for him to be who he is and develop his interests! He appears (from your writing) to have a very strong personality, and I can imagine his childhood could have been one long dramatic war if not handled with care!

      There are 2 aspects of what you write that revive some worried considerations I have about parenting:

      First, how hard it is. (and you are not alone, although I know your parenting situation is particularly challenging. Pretty much anyone I know with kids complain about how hard it is).

      Sensory exhaustion – I have problems with that too… without kids and with just a part time job. One thing I’ve realised from visiting families (to interview them) is how noisy and chaotic many families with young kids are. I worry that I will be a complete mess if my quiet alone-time gets eliminated too much on a daily basis, in a house relentlessly inundated with noise and demands for attention.

      Second, the risk of having a kid with serious problems. I too have a family history with serious mental disorders (not parents or siblings, but e.g. parent’s siblings) and my/our ages (early 40s) is an extra risk factor. Plus I’ve had serious problems myself and a lot of trouble growing up (to adulthood).

      Plus I’m not quite there yet in terms of figuring how to fit into the world… so how am I to teach a kid what to do?

      Those are just worries/considerations, though… We’ve also got solid strengths to draw on as a family. We get along very well, have great fun together every day and are able to talk things through well and solve problems systematically. And we are great dog owners! Of course dogs and kids are different creatures with different requirements and complexity. However, if we weren’t able to take care of pets then I would worry whether we would be able to look after kids, which is much more challenging.

      As far as making lady-conversation, I wished we lived nearer each other. Wine, laptops and books sounds like a lovely evening. You could always email me if you had gossip!

      That does indeed sound quite nice:-) I’m not sure I get the last sentence (sorry). What gossip?

      Thanks again, and have a great weekend! / end of week (well… almost the same thing!… except the latter include Friday)

      Happy day to you too!



      *OK I do know the logic doesn’t make any sense, because if he grew up in another family then he would obviously have been another kid (except if he was adopted)


      1. A Quiet Week

        Please forgive me. Tyoma had an accident the other day and we wound up in the emergency room. He’s okay, but life is pretty crazy right now. I promise I’ll be back with you, since there is much to discuss!
        Happy Day!


        1. Mados

          Sorry to hear about the accident! There’s no need for any apologies (for what?), but thanks anyway. Have a great continued weekend. I look forward to continue our talk when you have time:-)


  2. bloodfreak

    Hi Mados,

    You sound so, so terribly hard on yourself. I am actually worried about you. And now I feel guilty for not working harder myself. I feel like I have to go away and cry 😦

    Please go to and sign up for an account. Then record yourself singing your favorite song. Maybe not the whole song. Just 30 seconds, but do more if you feel like it. Then upload it to SoundCloud. Don’t share it with anyone. It’s just for you. Maybe some time later if you feel like it, you can share it. Repeat this every week. I have a SoundCloud account. I haven’t put anything there lately. I think I will. After I go cry.

    But before I go, I’ll tell you a secret: multi-tasking is a lie. You’ll see it in a lot of job descriptions and people constantly talk about how they are doing it, but the truth is, multi-tasking is a great way to do several things poorly. We are not computers with parallel processors built into our brains. We do pre-emptive multi-tasking. Each time you switch tasks, the switch is not instantaneous. Your mind needs time to adjust to the new task and to rebuild the context (“Okay, where was I? Ah yes, back to doing dishes, now where did I put the towel??”). This stop and start is stressful on the brain, you tire out more quickly, and the quality of your work on each task suffers.

    So when you hear people talk about how good they are at multi-tasking, you can say to yourself, “ah, this person is full of sh##. Good to know.”

    But please don’t tell anyone I said that, okay? Many people (like employers) like to believe that garbage and you would hurt their feelings if you told them 🙂


    1. Mados

      Thanks for your comment, but there is no reason to worry about me. I am not too hard on myself, I like to learn & develop, am happily married and live a good and fun life. My/our life requires money, effort and organisation, and it matters to me to be a contributor and be empowered to help build & sustain, not just consume… That’s where the objectives come in. If you look at the list, the objectives are really basic expectations for most people: to get basic everyday chores done on a regular/effective basis, earn a living and grow the family.

      Soundcloud: I already have a Soundcloud account and have shared a few home-made recordings up there (electronica). I sing every week in a team (and incidentally solo), but don’t have a mic at home, so it would be hard to record songs in good quality. Anyway: why should I? It is good fun to sing for a live audience, which is what I do every week. I don’t really need to add an online audience or storage cloud for singing. It would add performance pressure and be one more thing on the proverbial to-do list, which is already full of things I either would like to do, or need to do.

      Multi-tasking: definitely not a lie. It isn’t just about job ads, intensive multitasking is required in many spheres of life. A few easy examples: housework, shopping, looking after kids, walking 2 dogs, and an extreme everyday example: driving in traffic.

      I can obviously multitask, otherwise I would not be able to drive a car (and many other things). I drive a lot in my work and am a good driver now, because I know my weaknesses, a major one which is that I’m a poor multitasker. I have a complex, effective system of visual tricks & check points in my mind that ensures that I don’t overlook things in traffic and drive well coordinated and predictively in relation to all the things moving around me.

      Traffic is a complex, speedy, teeming, autonomic choreography. If you say that traffic isn’t an intensive multitasking situation, then it is because you take multitasking abilities for granted to such a degree that you don’t notice them. I’ve had 3 at-fault car accidents in the past* and many more near-accidents, and I haven’t improved my driving skills by thinking ‘oh, that was just bad luck’ but by taking my weak spots very seriously and keep reminding myself of them every time approach a risk situation (still).

      Driving requires a special type of multitasking, housework requires another type, different types of work require other types et.c. Most job types I’ve encountered required good multitasking skills. Interviewing does too… which is what I do as a job. I’m increasingly becoming skilful in the particular type of multitasking required for interviewing (shifting attention, thinking ahead in the form, cross-referencing in real time, evaluating logic, communicating), but still quite easily get thrown off and loose track of what I’m doing when there are too many distractions.

      What I’m doing right now (writing) doesn’t require multitasking… and I like it very much. Singing doesn’t either (much). Neither does reading, necessarily. Most of the things I like to do are low on multitasking. These activities are relaxing, refocusing and restoring instead of stressing and draining.


      *Only material damage + loss of Driver’s Licence on one occasion.


    2. Mados

      And now I feel guilty for not working harder myself. I feel like I have to go away and cry

      Sorry, that was not my intention. It probably looks like I work harder than I do. Goal setting is a statement of intention, and not necessarily an accurate reflection of future or present activity;-)


      1. bloodfreak

        Okay, well, your denial is encouraging, so I will stop worrying 🙂

        But multitasking is still a lie, as well-intentioned as it seems (driving is a single *complex* task with multiple elements that need attention simultaneously, otherwise you must also argue that writing is multitasking because you must think and look while you guide your fingers/pen/word transfer implement on the word transfer medium, with the ever present risk of interruption from email, IMs, facebook, children, pets, neighbors bearing cookies, delivery people, etc. granted the dangers are considerably lower when writing).

        But statements of intention are reflections of mind, are they not? I worry about what you are worrying about, but as I said, I promised I’d stop worrying 🙂

        And I do believe your true intention was in fact to make me cry. I will remember this and extract my sweet revenge at a later date.

        Good day!!


        1. Mados

          But multitasking is still a lie, as well-intentioned as it seems (driving is a single *complex* task with multiple elements that need attention simultaneously, otherwise you must also argue that writing is multitasking because you must think and look while you guide your fingers/pen/word transfer implement on the word transfer medium, with the ever present risk of interruption from email, IMs, facebook, children, pets, neighbors bearing cookies, delivery people, etc. granted the dangers are considerably lower when writing).

          I’ve been thinking about the difference between multi-tasking and a single complex task with multiple elements that need attention simultaneously. The two types of task-batches comprise many of the same elements but you are right, a batch of tasks that are so related they can be seen as ‘one task’ isn’t precisely the same as multitasking, and gets much easier with practice.

          Definitions of (human*) multi-tasking describe it as ‘the carrying out of two or more tasks at the same time by one person’ (Dictionary.reference,Merriam-Webster,Oxford Dictionaries, phrased in various ways).

          I guess the boundary between ‘complex task that involves multiple elements’ and ‘multitasking’ is open for interpretation, and depends on each individual’s attention span and flexibility.

          I suppose when a company asks for a ‘multitasker’, they mean someone who can shift attention between diverse tasks at short notice, who can tolerate frequent interruptions by people and shifting priorities, who has a good working memory and who can keep a diversity of tasks ‘warm’ / in mind simultaneously while working on other things.

          I consider jobs like these extreme multitasker-jobs: receptionist, secretary, office manager, waitress, fast food chain employee, kid nursery caretaker, for example. I’m sure there are many more.

          Taking care of kids and keeping, I suspect, requires intense multitasking if it needs to be done efficienly.

          Writing isn’t multi-tasking for me. I don’t do the interruptive things you mention (emails, IMs, facebook) while I write, and consider thinking, looking and writing ‘one flow’, not separate activities. I hate interruptions and potential interruptions very much and find it very hard to get back into my ‘flow’/concentration after being interrupted, and it feels horrible … so I prefer to write a night when there are no interruptions and even my dogs are asleep:-)


          *originates in computing



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