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The Cat Story AKA How to Reach a Goal

October 10, 2018

We are cat-sitting for a month for a friend. I get up in the morning and try to get into the one bathroom in the house, but the cat has managed to open the drawer in the bathroom that is right in front of the door, so the door can only open about 3/4 of an inch. Of course, the cat can open the drawer, but you can’t tell a cat to close the drawer.

Meanwhile, my daughter has to go to school and can’t get in to go to the bathroom or brush her teeth, so she has to go to school and do those things there. I’m at home. I have to go to the bathroom, but first I have to figure out how to get in the bathroom.

I grab a wooden spoon, slip it through the crack in the open door and try to get it to push the drawer in from the side of the drawer. The spoon can’t get any grip on the drawer, so I try a rubber spatula. Same thing. No grip. I put double-sided sticky tape on the spoon, trying to give it more gripping power. Still doesn’t work. I notice the hinges are on the other side of the door, so taking the door off the hinges isn’t an option. The window in the bathroom is locked from the inside.

Meanwhile, every time I open the door the little bit it does open, the cat madly claws and tries to stick his head through and escape, making it harder to get anything done. Finally, I come up with the idea that if I can get something to reach the very back of the drawer I can push the drawer closed from the back inside of the drawer. I start to look for things that are long enough and skinny enough to do the job.

I want a yardstick but can’t find one anywhere even though I thought we had one at one point. I try the fly swatter - too short. I look at the BBQ tool, too fat. I can’t find anything else so I decide I’m going to have to go buy a yardstick. I get dressed. I can't brush my hair or teeth and I keep thinking, “As soon as I go to the bathroom, I’ll be ready to go.” Hmmm, NO, that’s not going to happen. That’s why I am going to Starbucks first to use their bathroom.

I did. I went to Starbucks, bought a hot chocolate, and used their bathroom. Then I went to Ace Hardware and bought a yardstick and a dowel in case one word better than the other. I came home and tried both. The yardstick worked! It reached the back of the drawer and was skinny enough to not push the door open so much that the drawer couldn’t move. Success! The kitty was free and I could take a shower.

What does this have to do with reaching a goal? What does it have to do with Trent Shelton’s statement that “the journey will reveal the how”? Why do you care that I was able to get the kitty out of my bathroom and me into my bathroom?

Let me explain what this scenario taught me about goal setting.

  1. You make a goal and choose 100% commitment. In this case, it was easy. I didn’t even have to think about it. There was no way I was abandoning the one bathroom we have to the cat. NO WAY. Literally, if I had to tear off the roof, put holes through the wall, knock down doors, whatever, I would have my bathroom back again. Set your goal and decide you will achieve it no matter what.

  2. You come up with an idea and do it. When you start you don’t know how you are going to accomplish the goal, but you choose the first step. I started with a wooden spoon, trying to nudge the drawer shut. It didn't work. Your first idea most likely won’t work.

  3. Come up with another idea. You now have more information. Your next idea will be better than the first because of this new knowledge. The spoon won’t grip the side of the drawer. Try something that might grip

  4. As you actually DO things to accomplish the goal (even though they fail) that is how you LEARN HOW you are going to accomplish your goal.

  5. As you do this (preferably with the single-minded devotion to that goal) you keep going until you reach your goal.

That is how you learn how you are going to reach your goal.

October 11. Woke up this morning. The cat opened the drawer again, blocking the bathroom door. I know HOW to solve that problem now. I got into the bathroom in thirty seconds.

The journey the day before revealed the how. (Trent Shelton)

What are you committed to accomplishing?

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