A Navy Girl's Guide to Goal Setting

Hi readers,
This is a new feature here. The people in my life are real experts on all sorts of things, and 'A Girls Guide' is where I will share with you the wisdom they share with me! 

Today we have my friend, Navy 1st Lieutenant Beth Spangenberg, to talk to us about goal setting. The military has high standards for everything from her fitness level to her boot-shining abilities - so she knows better than anyone the importance of progress.

I easily lose sight of my daily goals in an 8-hour work day ("... well, I could just finish that tomorrow and instead take an hour for lunch"). But, sometimes Beth is at work for months at a time. Here's how she stays accountable to the goals she sets for herself.

"Whether I am at sea or at home, I start again every day. In the middle of a six month deployment or on a four day trip to sea, I lose sight of beginnings and have a hard time seeing the end – so I set goals in order to survive. Sometimes I restart on Mondays, but here on the ship at sea, I rarely know what day it is. 

It's easy to get lost. Midway through our deployment last year I started to fall apart. But, one day I realized (no self-help book needed) that I had to start by restoring my relationship with myself. I needed to be selfish, to forgive myself, and - like I have millions of times in the past year – start over.

I decided to start measuring my success by my daily happiness. We all strive towards happiness, but it's important to know how you define it. For me happiness is directly proportional to the happiness of the people who work for me, the quality of my work-outs and diet, the health of my relationship with my family, and the amount of time I spent with my true friends.

It was small changes at first; two good runs in a week, then three. A comment here and there about how well my division was doing. A good conversation with my sister. Or, a relaxing night with my roommate with a bottle of wine. Each time I experienced one of them I was renewed—and still am. I’m happier and healthier than I’ve been in a long time. That is how I know I’ve been succeeding in my goals.

A little selfishness goes a long way. And now, I am giving so much more to the world’s happiness instead of spreading my disappointment and depression. 
I still have a meltdown every so often when I survey the immensity of, well, life and time. When that happens I let myself feel that way for a few minutes, or hours, or maybe a whole day. And then it moves on like the tide. The next wave I usually feel is one of love."
[ Beth Spangenberg is an Ensign in The U.S. Navy, and is currently stationed in San Diego on the USS VANDEGRIFT (FFG 48). While at sea, she misses her friends, running outside, and her hometown of New Orleans. She recently finished a six-month deployment to the South Pacific]


  1. great feature :) sometimes we forget that taking some time for ourselves can be the most self-less thing we do.

  2. I love this idea! And these words. Today, just today, I am giving myself forgiveness and health. Tomorrow, I hope to do the same. :)

  3. this is beautiful. i actually got teary eyed reading it. it's all rang entirely true in my own life, as i've discovered the same things in the last year.

    i love your blog so much, samantha.

  4. love this post, love this new feature!

  5. you are amazing at telling stories, and your ability for others to feel comfortable telling you theirs. I can not wait for Atha and I to have our interview with you!


  6. Renata that's the message I got from this too - and it's such an important one. I forget too easily that in order to give to others, we must have something inside us to give at all.


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