24 msfocusmagazine.org While speaking at an MS event a few weeks ago, I asked for questions from the audience. Many 3 by 5 inch cards came to the podium, but the one that struck me as the most profound and difficult to answer was, “What does it mean to set a goal? And how do you go about doing it?” I was unable to answer the question at that moment. It would require a lot more thought. We so loosely throw around that term: goal setting, achieving one’s goal, setting a goal. Is a goal something we have to succeed at in order to be successful? Fulfilled? Accomplished? Is a goal necessary? It all depends on how you choose to look at it. The key word here being “choose.” That’s the beauty of a goal. It’s all yours and you get to be in control and define it. You get to be the master of your own destiny. You get to shape it, refine it, change it, and alter it at any time to suit your needs and what you ultimately want to accomplish. Goals can be as short-term as “I’m going to give the dog a bath before noon today!” Or you can have long-term goals such as “I’m going to save enough money to go on a trip by next year!” Goals can be fun and exciting or loom large over our heads as a “have to.” Sometimes it’s necessary to set a “have to” goal for our health and well-being, but if you sprinkle in some fun and rewarding goals, then the “have to” goals aren’t quite so hard to work on. For instance, “I’m going to lose five pounds," which by the way, is one of my least favorite and most difficult goals, “And when I do, I’m buying that new skirt!” Aha! Good goal makes difficult goal more palatable. I love a good win-win! So how do we set about and achieve goals when living and dealing with MS? One of my favorite authors, Anne Lamont, wrote a book called Bird By Bird. The book’s title was captured from an incident she recalled from her childhood. Her brother had to write a report on birds. He was sitting at the kitchen table lamenting that he had waited until the last minute to write the report and now the challenge seemed over- whelming. In despair he asked his father, “What do I do?” His Dad’s classic answer, “Bird by bird, buddy, just take it bird by bird.” So that is the approach I have taken with my MS and setting a goal. I take it “bird by bird” or one step at a time. With MS, we can’t always charge ahead once we have set a goal. We need to start by taking small steps, which will become bigger steps. Ultimately we will get there and achieve success. The finish line Life with MS Reaching Your Own Summit by Wendy Booker