Letters 12-05-2016

Trump going back on promises I’m beginning to suspect that we’ve been conned by our new president. He’s backpedaling on nearly every campaign promise he made to us...

This Christmas, think before you speak Now that Trump has won the election, a lot of folks who call themselves Christians seem to believe they have a mandate to force their beliefs on the rest of us. Think about doing this before you start yelling about people saying “happy holidays,” whining about Starbucks coffee cup image(s), complaining about other’s lifestyles…

First Amendment protects prayer (Re: Atheist Gary Singer’s contribution to the Crossed column titled “What will it take to make America great again?” in the Nov. 21 edition of Northern Express.) Mr. Singer, the First Amendment states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof …”

Evidence of global warming Two basic facts underlay climate science: first, carbon dioxide was known to be a heat-trapping gas as early as 1850; and second, humans are significantly increasing the amount of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere through the burning of fossil fuels and other activities. We are in fact well on our way to doubling the CO2 concentrations in our atmosphere...

Other community backpack programs I just read your article in the Nov. 28 issue titled “Beneficial backpacks: Two local programs help children.” It is a good article, but there are at least two other such programs in the Traverse City area that I am aware of...

A ‘fox’ in the schoolhouse Trump’s proposed secretary of education, Betsy DeVos (“the fox” in Dutch), is a right-wing billionaire; relentless promoter of unlimited, unregulated charter schools and vouchers; and enemy of public schooling...

Home · Articles · News · Books · New Year?s Resolutions?
. . . .

New Year?s Resolutions?

Anne Stanton - January 4th, 2010
New Year’s Resolutions? Try putting them in pictures this year
By Anne Stanton
Have you vowed to never make another resolution, knowing that you’re
quite likely to fail?
The problem with New Year’s resolutions is that they’re more about
what you don’t want to do, as opposed to dreaming up a vision that
puts a smile on your face.
So says Marsha Barber Clark, the author of Ponder Picture Prosper, who
has made achieving goals a lifestyle.
Resolutions and goal-setting are two different animals, she explained.
A resolution typically means dull sacrifice, while setting a goal is
more like coming up with a picture of life that gets your blood
pumping. And when Clark says picture, she means it literally.  For
each of her goals, she cuts out pictures, glues them on a piece of
paper, and compiles the pages in a three-ring binder.
Clark said that a typical resolution involves not doing
something—smoking, drinking or eating junk food. Clark suggests
looking a little deeper into your negative wish and find the positive
thing you’re actually looking for: For those who want to stop smoking,
picture breathing better, running up a hill, and living to be an
upright old woman (or man).  For those who want to start living within
their means, picture going to sleep peacefully without money worries
tormenting your dreams at 2 a.m. Picture a trip to Hawaii  with all
the money you’ve saved from bringing your lunch to work.
Clark said she and her family put dozens of goals in their goal book,
even those that seemed unreachable, such as traveling around the
world. That particular goal was achieved in 2001.
Here’s an interview with Clark, and her advice on how to make a
picture book and bring it to life:

NE: When did you first start your goal book?
Clark: In 1987, when my children were 6 and 4, my husband and I made a
list of where we would take our children. We felt that travel was the
university of the world, that it was a great way to teach our
children. We didn’t make a plan; we just made a list of about 15
places—the Grand Canon, the ocean, Washington D.C., New York City.  We
cut out pictures of each place we wanted to go and glued them onto a
piece of paper and put them in a notebook, and then we looked at the
notebook every day. We worked full-time, but eventually we made it to
every place we listed by 1994. We also began expanding on where we
wanted to go: the Sahara Desert, Kenya, the Great Barrier Reef. And
every single trip has a story with it—we don’t go to travel agents and
I think that makes the trips better. One year, we went to Europe and
bought a Euro-Rail pass. If you’re willing to backpack and be casual,
stay in tourist hotels, you can make the money stretch.
So once we started with the goal-setting notebook, we realized how
powerful it was. We usually have five trips planned at one time. We
don’t put a date on the goal—we wait until there’s a bargain or an
opportunity. In 1996, we put down Ireland as a goal, but that trip
didn’t work out until 2007. Before 9/11, we found trips that were
incredibly inexpensive—it’s been harder to find great deals since

NE: So did your two sons adopt this goal-setting?
Clark: Oh yes. Kids can start goal-setting as early as the age of
seven. They’ve set goal times for their running. What grades they
wanted to achieve in school. What kind of college experience they
wanted. Earning master’s degrees. Now they’re both working on their
doctorates and that’s the result of goal setting. Shane wanted to live
in a foreign country so he’s studying in Scotland. Brendan is 28 and
getting a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. He wanted to work with
patients suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and is
currently doing his residency in a VA hospital doing just that.  It’s
absolutely powerful.
I’ve kept written goals since I was a child. In third grade, I wanted
a suitcase that cost $13.95 plus tax. I got 50 cents a week for
allowance, so I just kept saving my money. I was ready to travel! My
family only went to Indiana and the U.P. on trips, we weren’t a
traveling family, but I knew then I would spend my life traveling. My
mom had a book, Around the World in a Thousand Pictures, and I would
read that book, look at the pictures and imagine myself in those
places. You wouldn’t think that book could be dangerous for a
7-year-old, but I obsessed about that book and going to all those

NE: It sounds like most of your goals involve travel.
Clark: A lot do. But we’ve set other goals as well. To own 40 acres.
To pay our kids’ college, to save money for retirement. We’re not
materialistic, so we don’t have a lot of goals about buying things.

NE: Do you make happiness a goal?
Clark: I have a section in the book that lists three kinds of goals.
The first is a core goal, such as happiness, health or love. The
second is an event goal that will reshape your life, such as a new
job, a wedding, or even a divorce. A continuation goal is what you
want to happen after the event goal. So many people plan a wedding,
but don’t give much thought to what happens after the wedding. A lot
of people are focused on getting a new job, thinking it will make them
happy, but they don’t think beyond the thrill of getting the job.

NE: Right, like I used to think I’d like to write a book, but when it
came down to it, when I really had the chance, I thought, wait,  I
really don’t want to work for months alone on a book, and then have
the job of promoting it. Was your book hard to write?
Clark: No, it came out of me like a volcano. Because I’ve lived this
way for so long, it was very easy to write. I had a lot to say.

NE: Most people say they can’t travel because they don’t have enough money.
Clark: Well, it depends on what you make your priority. I worked as
the CEO for the Girl Scouts, my husband is a teacher. So here you have
a teacher and a nonprofit worker—we never made a lot of money. We had
to save for the trips and look for bargains.

NE: Do you have a budget?
Clark: Absolutely. We live absolutely by a budget. We ran our house
like you run a business. I was a CEO for a nonprofit, so I know all
about budgets. We made a list of our fixed expenses, money we needed
to set aside for college and retirement, and the rest we could use for
our goals. One reason we had more money, is we never got into credit
card debt. Another is, we made it a policy to put our raises into a
tax deferred fund for retirement. We were already living without it,
so why make it part of our spending? The kids put finding scholarships
for college as part of their goals, and they found them, although not
for graduate school. They had to take out loans to cover part of their
grad school expenses.

NE: Do you use pictures for a budget?
Clark: No, but we use them for what we want to own. We have a picture
of a roof. If money comes in, it goes toward a new roof.

NE: Do you make resolutions right about now?
Clark: Not resolutions, but we do set new goals at New Year’s.  What
you want instead of what you don’t want. We also make goals throughout
the year.

NE: Do you find that married couples sometimes have conflicting goals?
Clark: Ah, yes. Chapter 7, goals and marriage. Some goals can be
compatible while others are clearly not. Sometimes it can be hard for
someone to give up a goal or accepting another person’s goal when it
means you’ll have to lose your own.  When I was younger, we lived in
the Detroit area, and I had a goal of moving up here. When my son was
three months old, the perfect job opened up with Michigan State
University. I would have loved that job, but I had made up my mind not
to work while my son was young. So I had to tell them no.

NE: Have you ever had that one elusive goal?
Clark: Well, I’ve always had goals and I make it a point not to give
them deadlines. Once you do that and miss your deadline, then that
sets you up for failure. You have a lifetime to achieve your goals.
When I was growing up in the 60s, we landed men on the moon, and they
often said they could recognize the Pyramids and the Great Wall of
China from space. I asked my Dad, “Did you ever see the Great Wall of
China?” He told me he was in China right after World War II, but he
wasn’t able to do that. I just had to right that wrong for my dad. If
you remember, foreigners weren’t allowed into China during the 60s and
70s, but then Nixon opened it up. Forty years after I made that
promise, I walked on the Great Wall of China with my own family. There
was this feeling inside of me that I find impossible to describe. I
was in awe.

NE: Does setting goals make you happy?
Clark: It keeps you excited about your life. We never go on vacations.
We go on adventures. We learn so much about cultures and other people.
We very rarely take tours, so we get to know the native people, what
we have in common, what our differences are.

NE: I have to say that cutting out pictures and gluing them on paper
sounds a little corny.
Clark: You know, it would to me too if someone told  me what to do.
But I came up with it myself, and it’s just been so powerful. We look
at the goal book every day. We have it on the table and we flip it to
pages we want to look at. I even have goal pages for my children. I
hope Shane finds a scholarship. When you set the goal, you’re more
open to it becoming a reality.

NE: But why cut out pictures?
Clark: When you think of something you’d like to do, but you don’t set
a goal, your mood can change, you can forget about it. You’ll talk
about it in the abstract. But a picture forces you to visualize what
you want. When it’s there in black and white, you really must consider
if it’s what you really want.
Sometimes I don’t know what I want. I once was very unhappy in my job,
so I glued in a picture of a woman who looked like she was having a
great time at work. I didn’t know whether to quit my job or try to
make the job I had better, but every day I just looked at the picture.
A couple of months later, I received a bonus and a lot of praise for
my work, gratitude for what I’d done. My attitude changed. I didn’t
know what I was looking for, but I wanted happiness and I found it.

NE: Do you make fitness goals?
Clark: I imagine what a healthy person looks like and the exercise I
like and the healthy food I enjoy eating. I like dancing so I put
pictures of people dancing. I don’t put in people exercising in a gym
because I don’t like to do that.

NE: I want to take a bike trip around New Zealand, but in the
short-term, I could go for a cleaner house.
Clark: You could put in a page for that, but you have to have a family
that helps make that happen.  It has to be their goal too. You can
have a goal page for everything. Since I’ve written this book, I’ve
received so many emails from people—I just got one from France. A
woman wrote to me that her 9-year-old wanted to go to Rome, and within
a year, an opportunity came up for the family to go there, and he was
their little tour guide. Because he had prepared to achieve his goal,
he knew everything about it.
Another woman I met used a treadmill and the running bothered her leg,
so her doctor told her to get an elliptical machine. She didn’t have
enough money, and hadn’t told anyone about her need. Much to her
surprise, someone at work had one, and offered it free to a good home
and she quickly said, “Yes!” I think all of this means that you need
to accept there’s a higher level of something working in the world.

NE: Speaking of a higher something, isn’t this a little bit like prayer?
Clark: Funny you ask that. I wrote about that in my book. A goal is
something you set for yourself, a prayer is the relationship between
you and God. When it comes to setting a goal, I often think, let the
universe work out the details. It sounds a little New Age-ish, but if
you know what you’re looking for, you can see how the webs weave
together to give it to you.
My husband and I have a goal to be happy and grow old together. Over
the years, we’ve had discussions like, “If you take that job right
now, it’s not really compatible with our family’s goals.” It’s not the
same as saying to the other person, “I’m rejecting you.” You’re
saying, “I’m rejecting that goal.” We consciously think of having a
happy marriage, and this goal book is a tool that has forced us to
talk to each other about what’s on our minds and in our dreams.

Marsha Barber Clark is an author and motivational  speaker. To find
out more about her ideas, go to www.ponderpictureprosper.com. The book
is available from the website, Amazon.com, and Horizon Books and
Higher Self Bookstore in Traverse City.

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