The Little Engine That Could

Six Months Later

Six months ago we completed The Little Engine That Could project. The idea was to set a goal, and then work to accomplish it within 30 days. This post is a six month follow up on that project to see what if anything has changed for you since April 1st.

  • If you participated in the project, and did not complete your goal – has it been completed since then?
  • Are you more successful with setting goals?
  • Has anything changed for you with regards to motivation, procrastination, and success in doing whatever it is that you set out to do?
  • Any other thoughts you’d like to share?

The Little Engine – Wrap Up

This post provides links to pertinent aspects of The Little Engine That Could project, so that you won’t have to sift through the archives to find out what you want to know.

The original idea, basic concept, and statement of intent is here:

If you would like to try this project for yourself, you can start on day 1,  Let’s Get Started, and come back daily to continue on thru Day Thirty: Did We Do Something?. Or, you can pick through the posts, finding what seems interesting and useful. The important thing is to commit to a daily practice.

As you work with the Little Engine That Could, we encourage you to post your thoughts, ideas, results, joys and disappointments as you go. This is an active blog, and if you post, we will notice and reply, and give you the benefit of our own experience and support if it seems pertinent or appropriate.

The basic summary of our results is posted here: What We Actually Did. A gallery of all the images used in this project can be found here: The Little Engine Photo Gallery.

Here is the complete listing of the daily posts for The Little Engine That Could project:

Getting Our Engines Revved:

Our 30 days starts now:


What We Actually Did!

Over all, I think the project helped all of us to make progress with our various goals. I think I was the only one who flat out didn’t do anything at all to further their goal. I did, however, learn a lot about goal setting and what NOT to do the next time I decide to set goals for myself.

What follows are the results that have been posted thus far:


Well, my goal was too lofty but I DID manage to organize debt and feel good about my plan going forward. It was tough to make some of the choices that means less incoming every two weeks but in the long run it will be more peaceful. I enjoyed the The Prosperity Project inspiration along the way!


While I can not say I achieved my goal. I can say I took steps towards it. I have a rough plan of steps I need to take to bring it even closer. Steps I did not have a month ago. So a SUCCESS in my opinion.


The road to hell is paved with good intentions… that pretty much sums up how well I did with my goal. I managed to do absolutely nothing… nothing at all with regard to getting my faucet replaced. It was an absolute fail. HOWEVER… I did do so much work on the website… several new mini-sites up and running… lots of new content… AND I worked my regular job… Had a very sick grandpuppy and a very worried family… and a bunch of other stuff. So I didn’t just DO NOTHING, what I did was EVERY THING BUT the faucet.

So… While the goal itself was a failure, the last 30 days was very productive and good. And if I had it to do over, I’d set a different goal, because I really do think I picked the wrong thing.

What did I learn? I learned that it is very important for me to choose long term goals that are something I really do want to actually do… not stuff that I think I might want, or that I think would be “good” for me. The “good for me” goals need to be something small and easy that I commit to doing every single day. And if I don’t want to actually DO it, there’s no point in making it a goal, because I will do everything in my power to avoid the doing of it.

My favorite posts were the ones about Newtons Laws … I love that physics applies to my every day life to accurately. Most helpful to me ?? again that would be Newton’s Laws of Motion. The Mind Mapping looked interesting, and I think it might be something fun to try later on this year.


Well I failed miserably LOL. I only got 15 out of 40 bags sewn and 9 of them were done before we started this months project.

Note to Saskia: I wouldn’t call getting 1/3 of the bags sewn a miserable failure! You did actually sew 6 of them which is way better than 0. So that’s progress.

By The Way:

It’s not too late to post your own results to this goal setting project. Just leave a comment with your experiences, successes and/or failures, with your insights, ideas, stories, and anything else you want to share. I’ll update this post as new comments appear. We’d love to hear what you have to share!

Little Engine Photo Gallery

What follows is a photo gallery of all the images shared for The Little Engine That Could project, including the Gallery of Trains. Enjoy!


Did We Do Something?

And now that we’re done with our 30 days of doing. It’s time to talk about how well did we do? Did you accomplish your goal? If not, why not. If so, do you have anything to share that you think might be helpful to someone else? What was the most helpful to you? Least helpful? Are you glad it’s finally over? Wish you had more time? If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?

I’m sure I”m not the only one who would love to hear your stories of success or failure, road blocks and smooth sailing, ideas, insights, words of wisdom and anything else that you’d like to share.

And here’s a little collection of Steam Train pictures to enjoy while we put this project to bed:

Random Thoughts on Obstacles

So, the first time I saw this I thought, “OK, that’s a fail.” However, today, I realized something interesting and important about this little gif. It stops too soon. That little guy just needs to get back up, reach over that rock, pick up his skateboard, and keep on keeping on. Voila! Obstacle Overcome!

This is also true. Sometimes you need an earth shaking maybe even life shattering event to propel you out of a situation in which you feel irretrievably stuck. Of course, something like that is scary and must be approached with ultimate caution. Notice the mouse is hiding “safely” behind a wall before he triggers the event.

For some people, obstacles are a great motivation for creative thought. Movers and shakers love obstacles because overcoming them is what they do best. There’s a lot to be said for this quality. To welcome problems… see the challenge and get excited about resolving it. A life that is too easy is usually pretty boring and possibly meaningless. On the other hand.. too many problems for breakfast can be like too much bacon – which we all know is not good.

Some obstacles aren’t really obstacles at all. We imagine them to be limitations and impossibilities. We create an obstruction in our imagination and think it’s real, and allow ourselves to come to a dead stop as a result.

I love this picture so much.
Making the best of a bad situation.

And then there’s always the “keep on keeping on” method of overcoming impossible situations. Maybe you just need a little bit of help and a whole lot of “I shall not fail” determination. You’ve got to admit, these two ladies (climbing the Grand Canyon) are pretty impressive!

Some goals, no matter how interesting, how elaborate, or how cool are simply impossible. This little engine for example… I love it! It’s a lovely steampunk fantasy and it’s not going anywhere. Well… it might roll along for about 6 inches or so before it derails…

And then there’s this… the occasional disaster! All that work, that energy and enthusiasm, the I think I can’s, the motivational speeches, how to’s, and road maps to success… all of it lost in a moment. Maybe it was poor planning, lack of support, or a simple mistake, something happens and the whole thing goes up in flames. It happens, and lucky for us, our little “Engines That Could” are not real trains!

Giving up is always an option, but are you sure you really want to do that?

Isn’t there always a little spark of hope?
A light at the end of the tunnel?
I like to think so.

Mind Maps

I found a wonderful series of “mind maps” from Mind Map Inspiration. I thought these might be helpful to those of us who are finding ourselves lost in the wilderness of not getting stuff done that we said we would do, that we wanted to do, that we intended to do, that we wish we would do…

Spinning In Circles

It’s About Time

Quick Fixes

Personal Growth

Right Now

Life Purpose vs Primary Income


24 Hours

Parkinson’s Law

 Work expands to fill the time allotted.

This proverb was coined by the twentieth-century British scholar C. Northcote Parkinson, known as Parkinson’s Law, it points out that people usually take all the time allotted (and frequently more) to accomplish any task.

The total effort that would occupy a busy man for three minutes all told may in this fashion leave another person prostrate after a day of doubt, anxiety, and toil.

Originally, Parkinson’s law was a reference to the self-satisfying uncontrolled growth of the bureaucratic apparatus in an organization. Nowadays Parkinson’s law is usually condensed to saying work expands to the time allowed and is applied to individuals as well as a burgeoning bureaucracies. Parkinson discusses this interpretation in his opening paragraph but then limits his attention to organizations.

This adage, written in 1955, captured a feeling both modern and timeless and came to be known as Parkinson’s Law. It spawned a best-selling 1958 book and has for decades inspired life-hackers and self-help gurus aiming to vanquish the human tendency toward anxiety-producing, productivity-squelching procrastination.

Variations on the theme:

  • If you wait until the last minute, it only takes a minute to do.
  • In ten hours a day you have time to fall twice as far behind your commitments as in five hours a day.
  • A task will swell in (perceived) importance and complexity in relation to the time allotted for its completion.
  • The amount of time that one has to perform a task is the amount of time it will take to complete the task.

Interestingly, the reverse is not true.

The solution? Set urgent deadlines, program your stopwatches, and stick to the program. No dillydallying, and no toiling over inconsequential details. Mustering mental discipline is, of course, challenging, especially now that smartphones and e-mail make it easy to second-guess, edit, and retouch work from anywhere at any hour.


Current Project

Our current project began on July 4. We are exploring the concept and practice of Radical Self Care . Feel free to join in at any time!

Interested? You can visit our current project page, or you can take a look at the About The Project page if you are curious about the concept.


Please feel free to join in at any time! No experience necessary.

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