This Awkward Message Led to a (Much-Needed) 2018 Goal Gut Check

Written by on 30 Jan 2018

“We miss you!”

I stared down at my phone. Normally, a message like this would be bittersweet. Bitter because it means that someone I really care about has been out of my life long enough for me to be missed. Sweet because, hey, who doesn’t want to be told that you’re missed?

 But this time … it was different.

 After all, how are you supposed to react when an app tells you it misses you?

 In the first person?!?!

That’s right. An app. And not just any app. The app I had downloaded on January 1st to re-learn Italian. An app called Duolingo.

Out of sheer curiosity, I opened the email. No joke, this is the actual screenshot image of the contents of that email:

Try to set aside the fact that I have 52 unread emails, and focus on the parrot.

That might be the saddest cartoon image I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Look how sad he is! It’s like someone stole his lunch money, told him Santa wasn’t real and made him watch Old Yeller all in the same day.

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I was legitimately moved by this image.

“We haven’t seen you in a while. [INSERT SADDEST PARROT EVER] Do you still want to learn Italian…”

There it was! The reason for the email. And a stark reminder of something I had completely forgotten…

I wanted to re-learn Italian this year.

At the outset of the year, after some encouragement from a dear friend of mine, I decided to set 1-year, 10-year, and lifetime goals.

Not a simple exercise, but definitely an important one. After some thought about business goals, relationship goals, and health/fitness goals, I started to think about goals that might increase the overall quality of my life. The nice-to-haves, if you will. And I came up with two very specific goals:

  1. By the end of the year, I will be able to play one recognizable song on the guitar (which I’ve never played before).
  2. By the end of the year, I will be able to have a full conversation, in Italian, with the 80-year-old woman who lives in the same neighborhood as my mom.

The first goal was probably the most challenging, considering the fact that I’d never played the guitar before (and the fact that I didn’t own a guitar in the first place).

The second goal was much more attainable. It took 2 years of Italian in college. I studied abroad in Rome for a summer. At one point, I was damn near conversational. I even used to dream in Italian.

That was fun for multiple reasons (cue: gorgeous Italian men …), but I digress.

I started looking online for apps that would help me brush up on my Italian and found Duolingo. This is one of the highest ranking, free, language-learning apps, and one of their best-performing programs was Italian. Boom, done.

I downloaded the app and started with a placement assessment that would sort me into a course of study based on my existing proficiency in Italian.

WOW... That didn’t take long…

Talk about humbling. After once being able to give directions, order food, and even have a full conversation with a museum director about why an exhibit wasn’t open (answer: Italian daily naptime), I was all the way back at zero. Do not pass go. Do not collect $200. Go straight to the beginning … all over again.

But no matter. I was determined to learn Italian! After all, that was my goal! A goal I really wanted to achieve. And no amount of parrot shaming was going to make me feel bad about starting from scratch.

So start from scratch I did … on January first. And then … life happened.

Work. Family. Friends. New diet. New exercise routine. Work projects. Family. Friends. Boys. No, no boys. Cheat day on new diet. “Experiment week” of no exercising. Work. Family Friends. Reruns of The Newsroom and new episodes of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel.

And somewhere along the way … I forgot about Italian. And clearly about Duolingo.

Cue saddest parrot ever.

Now I know that I’m not the only person who’s set out at the beginning of the year with the intention to move mountains in every corner of her life. This year, I was going to lose a few pounds, get my beach body muscles back, crush it in business, finish my online course, write my first book, get paid to speak in a foreign country, cross Australia and New Zealand off my list, solidify my friendships, spend time with my mom, meet a man, start a committed relationship, watch less TV, read more books, volunteer, and oh, by the way, learn the guitar and re-learn Italian.

NBD, right?

Sheesh. That makes me tired even just by reading it. No, not NBD. Not NBD at all.

That email from Duolingo was my January 30-day goal gut check. It was a reminder of what I had set out to accomplish this year and the things that I had (and more importantly hadn’t) been doing to make those goals a reality.

Perhaps learning Italian wasn’t really that important to me in the first place. Or perhaps I just let other things (less important things) get in the way of something that I really wanted to do. Either way, the saddest parrot of all time was the gut check I needed to get my priorities back in order.

So, ask yourself… do you need a gut check, too?

We’re exactly 30 days into January. 30 days into 2018. 30 days into the new year, the new you, the new reality we’ve created.

So what really matters to you? Are your goals the same or different? Do you know what really matters and why? And how will you reset your life TODAY to make the ones that matter happen?

Let this be your 30-day goal gut check. And if you feel you need one, please watch this video for some invaluable tips on what to do now that you’re awake and you’ve been reminded.

And hopefully you can make it through 2018 without ever making a parrot cry.

So now I want to hear from you:

How are your goals and resolutions going this year?

What’s one thing you can do differently in the rest of 2018 to get it right?

Leave a comment below to get the creative juices flowing.

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  1. Anonymous   On   30 Jan 2018 at 7:11 pm

    Umm, love the thought, and thanks for the tip on the language app. May have to try it to see if I can improve my VERY limited Spanish! But 🙁 the video link doesn’t play. Maybe late. Thanks as always for your blog! Always great stuff!
    Laurie M. Wilford

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