Simple Pleasures

Goals are useful… and they can also be a bit of fun.

They provide a focus for our energy, they keep us going through hard times and they can help us identify our values.

For the more gifted, the goals can be quite difficult to achieve; things like making the Olympic team and maybe even winning a medal, or recording a hit song or gaining some other kind of recognition.

Fortunately for the rest of us, though, they can also be quite small and they don’t even have to involve competition.

Well, not with other people anyway. The kind of goals I’m talking about, however, should help motivate us to improve ourselves in some way, so I guess that means they would involve competition with ourselves.

I’ve mentioned all of this to try to add some glitter to the fact that I recently reached a rather insignificant goal that I set for myself when I first came to live in the UK. Over here, the major food stores Like Tesco, Morrison’s and Sainsbury’s like to draw customers to their outlets by posting discount vouchers to local residents.

Usually the coupons are for 10 percent savings, as in £3 off when you spend £30 – that’s about P45 off P450 – but that only happens when customers manage to keep their bills close to the target figure, which is something very few people do.

In reality, I suspect most shoppers overshoot the target by so much that the average discount is closer to five percent than ten.

The store administrators know that, so I decided to try to beat them at their own game by adding up my items as I put them in the trolley and stopping as soon as I reached the discount figure.

Yeah, I know, lots of you add up your items when you shop but for over five years now I’ve been shooting at specific figures and to make things tougher for myself I have restricted my purchases to things I actually need.

When a new store opened near my home last month management sent out vouchers for $5 off a £25 shop – that’s 20 percent off – so last week I set out to spend exactly £25… and I did it!

That’s the first time I’ve used an exclamation point in one of these columns, so hopefully that gives you some idea of how pleased I am about attaining my goal.

At this point you may be wondering how trying to hit a shopping target has helped me to improve myself.

Fair question. Well, it has kept my brain ticking over and improved my mental maths and it has helped me be aware of what I need around the house – and more importantly, what I don’t need.

It has also helped turn shopping into something more than just a chore and even when I have just come sort of close to the desired figure, having the goal has provided a great deal of pleasure.

And that pretty much covers the point I want to make today.

Setting ourselves challenges – even really small ones – can help to make our lives more fun.

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