Everyone craves a sense of accomplishment. Sadly, you can’t expect to become rich or famous overnight, and too often, people create such lofty goals for themselves that they’re left wanting. Keanu Reeves probably craves an Oscar, but he’d be a lot happier if he shot for something a little more manageable; like adding actual human inflection to one line of dialog before he dies.
I learned early to avoid lofty ambitions, and instead revel in the sweet reward of achieving petty goals.
Leading a life of utter fulfillment is easy when you keep your hopes and aspirations low. For instance, I keep a “to do” lists for myself, for no other reason than the joy I attain by crossing off items. Could I add “make more money” to the list? Sure. But why, when it could remain there for decades? Why, when instead I could write “make a vodka and lemonade?” Remember to add things you already did to the list retroactively, just so you can immediately cross them off.
Breathe in. Breathe out.
You can also achieve petty goals at work. For instance, has a co-worker had a baby, forcing you to watch everyone coo over photos of a bald-headed peanut you could have made yourself, given nine months, the reinstatement of prohibition, and two minutes alone with any living male over the age of consent? You could get married and have an adorable kid, but why? That’s way too difficult. Instead, you can pretend you adopted a kid. Adopted kid always trumps biological kid. And most picture frames come with adorable kids already in them. Just buy the appropriate frame, put it on your desk and wait for the onslaught of adoring fans.
Steal attention from breeder.
Or, you could just bring a box of kittens into work. You can get kittens at a shelter for almost nothing. Tell everyone that you found the box o’ kittens outside in the parking lot. Immediately, everyone will forget about Momma, and your cubicle will be the center of attention. Whenever people utter your name, it will be followed with “you know, the girl who saved all the kittens.” As a side bonus, you might find actual parents for the kittens, which is good, because shelters really frown on taking boxes of kittens and then returning them the next day, believe me.
Become office kitteh hero.
Collections are another great way to feed a craving for accomplishment, but be careful to avoid collections that never end. Coins? Stamps? There are millions of those. Write “collect all the coins” on a to do list and you’re in for a world of hurt. You need to start collections you can complete, like “own all top ten hits by Chumbawamba.” Chumbawamba just broke up so you don’t have to worry about another “Tubthumping” coming out of left field. Special note: Be wary of bands with a lot of remix albums like the Beastie Boys. That’s a trap.
Watch all episodes of “Animal Practice”
There are a million goals you can accomplish within your own family. I like to play a game called “Make Mom Curse.” My mother rarely curses. But if you work her up into a proper froth, by, for example, suggesting that Tom Selleck isn’t the sexiest man alive, sometimes she’ll slip. The joy derived from hearing your mother call someone an asshole is almost indescribable. Give yourself a point scale ranging from one point for a “hell” or “damn” to 10 for the f-bomb. If all else fails, you can trick her by wondering aloud what they call those structures beavers make. Like any mom she’ll have to tell you, and then BOOM! – one point.
Take TV remote from Dad and change channel once without him noticing
Sure “damn” and “dam” are technically different words, but it isn’t really cheating. Remember, with all your petty goals:
You make the rules.