The Way I See It: Goals turned to reality

Michele Blais says working together can produce great results while still being true to yourself

Why are some people seemingly motivated to have clear goals, and work towards completion of those? Others, motivated to think up ideas, discuss these easily and yet make little effort to follow through on them.

I had a close friend who was fantastic at coming up with great ideas for businesses or products that would save time and be more efficient in completing tasks. He was an ideas man. With a team around him to do the follow-through there would have been no stopping him.

The year I was pregnant with my oldest son I held a job with Boys and Girls Club called the WOW program — Work Oriented Workshop. I worked with 10 students who had dropped out of school and our goal was to get them back in school or into trades or active employment. One of our projects was creating a small business because I wanted the students to see self-employment as an option in their lives and to understand the different components of a business.

Our business idea the students came up with was to manufacture and sell recycled cloth shopping bags. Bob Sattler donated old sheets from the Best Western Hotel, which we transformed. Once we settled on a product design, we tie-dyed the material, as pale yellow bags did not seem that appealing. We cut the bags, and then sewed them. Each of the steps needed were broken down into tasks, and students assigned responsibilities for each. Raw materials; product testing and design; manufacturing; sales and delivery; accounting. The students also came up with a list of all the benefits of these environmentally friendly bags and how they could be used, and put this list in each bag. Gord had the youth silk screen a logo they designed on the bags as well.

We did try to make them ourselves and were too slow, so we farmed out the sewing. This came at a cost because it cut into the profit margin, however it enabled us to complete this project in our timeline and have a quality product. It was an important lesson.

We sold the bags for $5 each thanks to local stores and friends, and then donated our profits to the World Wildlife Fund and to a local environmental group. The students were proud of these bags, and I was proud of this fine group of young people. Initially not everyone thought it was a good idea, and yet they all did it, and proudly celebrated their completed achievements.

Whirling around in our brains are millions of interesting ideas. Some will come forward into action and some not.  In this busy world we live in I wonder if there are greater expectations on us to do more with our time. We have many roles and take on more, and sometimes place unrealistic expectations on ourselves.

Getting clear on goals, not taking on too many grand schemes, and working together can produce great results. It is also about knowing yourself, and being comfortable with who you are — celebrate that which is uniquely yours.

Michele Blais is a longtime columnist with The Morning Star who has worked with families and children in the Vernon area for the past 29 years.