Author: Maddy Rice

Part 1 of 3 series:

Eight years ago, the department I was working in at one of America’s biggest pharmaceutical companies was downsized, and I lost my job of nine years. I was devastated. I went through all the stages of loss; disbelief, anger, bargaining, and then a significant depression. You see, I am a super achiever who had rarely failed at anything and I felt like I had failed at my career and at life. As I reflect back to that time I can honestly say it was perhaps the best thing that ever happened to me. It propelled me to do things in my life I never thought possible.

During my tenure at the pharmaceutical company I met a pretty special person, Darlene Whitehurst. Darlene was an advertising vendor and through her outstanding customer service, we quickly became close friends. Darlene had always talked enthusiastically about writing goals and treasure mapping to me. As a health behaviorist who had studied the behavior change theories of Prochaska and DiClemente, I agreed with her enthusiasm, but I still approached it from a scientific and analytical perspective. “Of course your goals come true if you have a plan and put your mind to it”, I would say. But guess what? I had never taken the time to do it myself.

In the mist of my depression, Darlene took me to dinner and asked me one of the most difficult questions I have ever had to answer, “what does Maddy want?” She asked me to reflect on what I had done in the past to get to where I was. I told her that in some cases I was simply in the right place at the right time. However, there were definitely things in my life that happened because I wanted them to and I saw myself having them. Then she asked me if I thought if it was a coincidence that I got the things I wanted. “I don’t know, don’t all tenacious high achievers get what they want?” I replied. But that was not what Darlene was talking about. When I finally took the time to listen and to really understand, I was able to accept the domino she was giving me, and my life changed forever.

What I began to realize was that having goals was not about a scientific process to address a goal or behaviour that needed improving or changing in my life. Nor was it about desiring one thing like getting a part in a dramatic play or taking a trip. What Darlene was talking about was EVERYTHING. In other words, she was asking me not only about what I wanted to do about my career and getting a new job, she was also asking me what I wanted to do about everything in my life that matters and gave me purpose. It was about what I wanted for my family, my health, my home, my finances, my hobbies, my relationships, and my spiritual growth. Goals matter because they are about what you want to do about everything that matters in life to keep it in balance.

Since that day, I have written my l annual goals, sometimes twice a year. I post them on my bathroom mirror where I can see them every day when I brush my teeth and put on my make-up. I am not going to say it has all been easy or magical, nor that I haven’t experienced a few bumps along the road, but I will say that the majority of the goals I have written down have materialized.

Once you experience it, you become what Darlene likes to call a “goal-a-holic.” You know those people. They are the ones who are positive, confident and empowered.

In Part 2, I will share what I did, how I put my goals into action, how I have accomplished goals I never thought possible, and how I ended up living in Africa.

In Part 3, I will share some of the lesson’s I have learned along the way, how to keep focused, and what I mean by the Domino Effect.


Maddy Marasciulo is an HIV clinical nurse specialist, curriculum designer and health trainer. She currently lives in Kampala, Uganda.