The very first word that I remember reading was “FREE.” I flipped out and made sure that my mother knew that I was reading it. Over and over.
It was on the back of Rice Krispies box. It was advertizing a free toy that you could have if you mailed in proofs-of-purchase to their corporate office.
The only toy that I ever sent for off a cereal box was a Tony the Tiger baseball from Frosted Flakes. I saved up a few proofs-of-purchase, which I found out meant cutting out the barcode off the box. With my mothers’ help, I mailed them away. The ball came three months later. I had forgotten that I sent for it, and I was bowled over when a little cardboard box came one day, addressed to ME. ME?! I took it to a secret place in the house and opened it with twinkling eyes.
The truly amazing part of this little story is that my parents allowed me to have enough Frosted Flakes to get the ball in the first place. We were a Cheerios and Rice Krispies family…no fun cereals, at least as far as 5 year old Kari was concerned. My favorite was Fruity Pebbles and a generous guess is that my mother would cave and buy them once a year for me.
It’s possible that my parents let me have enough Frosted Flakes to get the ball because they were excited that I had a goal. I can imagine their conversation:
Mom: But I thought we weren’t buying the girls sugar cereals?
Dad: If Kari has a goal, we need to encourage that. She never has goals.
Mom: Well…that’s true…
And it was very true — that baseball is the first thing that I ever remember working towards. On the other hand, what kind of goal takes three months to come in the mail? If I had known that getting the baseball was a “goal,” I probably would’ve found something different to do.
One of the dimmest moments of my professional life of the last six years had to do with my lack of goal setting. It was at my very first annual review. When my manager asked me what goals I would like to set for myself, my response went something like this:
“I don’t like goals.”
I had lame reasons for not wanting to set goals. She sat across the table from me with squinted eyes. How do you manage someone who refuses to set goals for anything? At the time, I had NO idea that I was being difficult. I thought I was being smart!
I’m sure she could’ve had a great conversation with my parents after that review. Maybe if she dangled a Tony the Tiger baseball in front of me, THEN I would’ve worked harder?
Although I’m older, goal setting and I have yet to click. It’s like flossing. I understand that it’s important to floss, so I floss every night. But as I’m pulling that thin string out of it’s white box, I’m annoyed and literally forcing myself to care for myself.
I may never enjoy setting goals, but I do enjoy the satisfaction of an easy dental check up, and I did enjoy getting that baseball in the mail. I’ll take little goal setting steps.
My goal tonight is to eat a bowl of Fruity Pebbles! See, it’s not always so painful…