Meet the people who are best at meeting goals

I tell my husband tidbits about the kids because part of my strategy to get him to relocate to Swarthmore is to keep him feeling close to us. I tell him my younger son is winning more on his video game than ever before because the Internet we get from living above Dunkin Donuts is so much faster than on the farm.

Is he connected to us? I don’t know. Farmers are so connected to their work that it’s hard to divide their life and their job. But then I have coached so many people like that. It’s not healthy to conflate yourself and your job. But I’m like that too; I could never be me and not write. The essence of being me is words. And maybe the essence of being my husband is nature.

You know I’ve lost my mind when I am talking about the essence of people because that’s language people use when they are getting ready to do nothing. Spiritual philosophizing is not the language of a high achiever.

Before he goes to bed, I call him say Hi. To tell him I love him. This is not a typical call for me, because I am not people oriented. But I am goal oriented, and I want my kids to live in a stable family. So I make the call to meet a goal.

Me:  “Did you see that Merriam-Webster’s word of the year is surreal?”

Him: “Is that a new word?”

Me: “A new use. As in my life is surreal. You know? To mean bizarre.”

Then we hang up.  We are not big phone people. He didn’t really even grow up with a phone. Even when I was dating him, and I called his house, there was a party line, so people not in his house might answer.

I call him every other day with a fact. Because he is an ISTP. He thinks my reliance on my intuition is hilarious. I don’t tell him how small his world is when he is only interested in concrete reality. I just try my best to stay in it while I’m with him.

One of the problems of living in reality is it’s very difficult to set goals, because goals are about something that’s not yet happening. And if it’s worth doing, it’s a little unrealistic. So for most of my husband’s life, he didn’t really have a goal. He fed pigs, raked hay, cut corn… Until I came along.

The more I talk with people about meeting their goals, the more I understand why ENTJs set big goals and meet them  and no one else really does. I’m not kidding. I learned it the hard way. I made the title of my ENTJ course Accomplish Whatever You Want and then Do it Again. Because ENTJs are obsessed with meeting their goals. But the course doesn’t sell to ENTJs because they don’t need help meeting their goals.

Instead, the course sells to people who are not ENTJs but want to be more like ENTJs. I can understand that. ENTJs have all the money and all the power. Well, except me, but I’m a damaged ENTJ, thank goodness for you, because that’s what makes this blog interesting.

Most ENTJs will not bother to explain how ENTJs meet all their goals. But I will:

An ENTJ always has a big goal. For every action, because nothing is worth doing if it doesn’t meet an important goal. Also, the ENTJ rarely dumps a goal until it’s met. Intellectual tenacity comes naturally to an ENTJ.

An ENTJ constantly adjusts the goal. I knew moving the kids to Swarthmore was essential to meeting their goals. But I wasn’t sure if my husband should come to Swarthmore. Now I am pretty sure he should move.

He’s isolated on the farm. The nearest house is a mile away. And he scaled back his farm work to the point where he calls himself semi-retired. And he has lots of things he wants to pursue that are best done in a city.

I’ve had people tell me I can convince anyone to do anything, but actually that’s because I spend a lot of time figuring out the other person’s goals and how they can best meet them.

An ENTJ is constantly learning about how to reach their goal. But unlike the researchers who are all learning and no action, an ENTJ takes action all the time. Melissa says I run my kids like they are a company.

And I can see why that’s true, because each company I’ve founded was in a field I knew nothing about, so I read about it obsessively for years and years. That’s what I’ve done with the cello world. I spend five hours a week doing research about how people build music careers, where the good cello teachers are, what’s the best way to practice. I’m always thinking about the next step.

An ENTJ does not like regular fun. ENTJ fun is meeting a goal, which means making a little progress each day, reviewing the remaining milestones. And then lingering on the big-picture in the way I imagine others sip a tall glass of beer during happy hour.

I hope my husband reads this post. He doesn’t read posts that look boring at first blush, so I put a picture of him at the top of this one just in case.

This is my love letter to him. My goals are my life. And everything I do is to meet a goal. Being part of my goals is my highest form of love. And I want to stay with him. And I want to continue to meet goals with him. I love him because he brings out my most heartfelt goal-meeting self.

57 replies
  1. Bob Dickenson
    Bob Dickenson says:

    OK. I am a male Aspergers/semi-autistic guy. 66 y.o. I grew up on a farm in Illinois. I understand both farmers AND the extremity of being Asp/aut.

    By the Grace of God I have been blessed with a spouse who is my opposite. It has NOT been easy at all for either of us, not in the least. She is my total opposite, another race, another culture, thrown together “by accident” — and yet…there is love. We fight all the time–and yet…there is love. Even when we are on the verge of divorce/separation, there is still this bond…

    When I read your post, I see the same things—you love “the Farmer” and he loves you. You are stuck on “goals” and you are missing “real life”. He is in the midst of “real life” all the time—he has animals who NEED his care or they will die (and shortly)…it is that simple. You have loftier animals to care for — there is no shame in that either. I HAVE and DO continue to have both such roles in the world. It is a challenge every day.

    Penelope, please listen–“the Farmer” loves you and the children deeply. His methods of expressing that love may be defective from your perspective (TOTALLY understandable), but they are REAL efforts from him from what he knows of life.

    Be encouraged — persevere — your husband is NOT your enemy — he clearly loves you deeply and YOU LOVE HIM. Be encouraged my sister, re-calibrate your frame-of-reference….things will look a LOT different.

    • susan martin
      susan martin says:

      “BY THE GRACE OF GOD”…key statement. thanks for a great reflection and advice, friend.

  2. Lauren Teller
    Lauren Teller says:

    This is love!! This is growth! When the dominant part is safe and mature enough to step back and support the expression of the recessive part. The T support the F…..yes? And black and white thinking gives way to mutable shades of grey.
    Your writing is so good. An understandable narrative, a sentiment, a request. Any idiot can make it complicated, it takes a genius to make it simple.
    You teach me so much.
    xo lauren

  3. Jon
    Jon says:

    Ah wow, what a fantastic post.
    At one point I thought it was one of your “hey, you did my test which shows you’re an ENTJ, why not do my course!” … so I enjoyed it even more when realised it wasn’t.
    I don’t even know how I heard about you or your blog. But I want you and Farmer to stay together… defo!
    Thanks for your unending honesty in your posts.

  4. Sarah N
    Sarah N says:

    I’m also an ENTJ and identified with this post. “An ENTJ does not like regular fun…” Perfect.

  5. harris497
    harris497 says:

    Penny, you say, “ENTJs have all the money and all the power. Well, except me, but I’m a damaged ENTJ, thank goodness for you, because that’s what makes this blog interesting.” But I’d prefer you to get your stuff in order than to serve as entertainment for me. After years and years of reading your work, I can truly say that I’ve learned from you, but the drama distracts me from your messages. I wish you peace/happiness… if either is attainable.

  6. Cat
    Cat says:

    You are on a roll with these posts lately Penelope!!! It makes me think you have more feelings than usual – which I’m super into! ;) Your writing inspires me everyday! Rooting for you and the farmer!!! <3 -Cat the yoga teacher you probably don't remember but it's ok!!

  7. Maria Killam
    Maria Killam says:

    I love this love letter and I also love hearing more about your perceptive on ENTJ’s because that’s what I am :)
    Great post Penelope,

  8. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Maybe you should also talk about your cooking a lot, because I bet that’s what he misses most often about you. I remember him talking about your food on his blog once.

    I don’t just mean that in the sense of, “all he misses is the food”. There is something comforting about someone cooking for you, and something sad about only ever cooking for yourself and eating alone.

    • C.J
      C.J says:

      Love is about laying down your life (here of course we mean goals, fast internet) down for another person. Finding different ways to achieve your goals so that they van achieve what they want. Men are not robots without feelings or desires, they are people too. So when as a woman you decide they should do what you said, it is unfair. Women should be willing to find the middle. This farmer loves his farm and the children. Putting the kids in a stable family means not moving away from their father then making him move too. He won’t be happy if he moves neither will you nor will the children.

  9. Cáit
    Cáit says:

    Dear Penelope,
    Here is how to speed up his move,
    Find a friend who is gentle and careful to talk to both of you separately and find out what is really blocking this, what is really going on. Someone very gentle who can listen and carefully encourage you both to uncover what this really means and motivate him to plan a move.
    Get (the right) friend involved. you can’t counsel yourselves as efficiently as a third party.

  10. Michael
    Michael says:

    You are great at giving advice but I sense you are lousy in taking advice. Swarthmore? Oy Vey.

  11. Penelope K
    Penelope K says:

    Do you want him to move for his sake or yours?
    You are connected to your goals and he is one of them.
    He is connected to nature and maybe to you.
    I hope you both get what you need and stay together but no-one else gets a say besides you two.

  12. Joanna Daniel
    Joanna Daniel says:

    I love how where you express yourself and hoped your husband reads it so that he can understand more of who you are.
    I remember dating a guy once who was sure he loved me, I was sure he didn’t know or understand me and wanted desperately for him to read some of my writing so that he could have a more rounded view of who I was.

    I hope you husband read the post. Being fully us is like breathing, it keeps us alive, accepting that free’s us.

  13. Dana
    Dana says:

    The article you linked to, “It’s not healthy to conflate yourself and your job”,, is the ENTJ dream society. Coming from the DC area, working in engineering while raising to small kids and being an INFP and living there almost killed me. Literally. I live in Austin, now (thank God) and the culture is not as intense.
    I know you love The Farmer but maybe you NEED him, too. Like living in a DC or NYC/ENTJ is toxic for me, and INFP maybe you being alone without a balance that The Farmer provides is apart of the love you have for him. #oppositesattract

  14. Bob
    Bob says:

    “And I want to stay with him.”

    More accurately, you want him to follow you, now that you’ve left him. This post is romantic in a Penelope sort of way, but the Farmer doesn’t seem the type to be swayed by it.

  15. Grace
    Grace says:

    As an INTJ, I also understand goal setting and goal attaining. However, I’ve learned that I can’t treat people like goals. You seem proud of treating your husband and children like projects/goals. THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING!

    People want to be loved for who they are, not for what they achieve. You know that most people don’t care about goals. You care about goals, not them. Don’t make them conform to your happiness. Accept that their happiness is as legitimate as yours.

    Otherwise, it was a wonderful love letter. I hope he moves. (But I doubt it.)

    • Cáit
      Cáit says:

      I’m home sick with laryngitis and breastfeeding and waaaay too involved in this blog clearly…
      I am an INFJ and I don’t see this exactly. She seems to be a loving mother to me who prioritizes her children’s individuality (very American but not bad or wrong) and big picture (very ENTJ but not bad or wrong). Her life is extremely kid centered…hard to accuse her of making them live for her goals, sort of the opposite..
      Didn’t she say she has an INFJ friend once? I bet anyone twenty dollars that her INFJ friend could talk to them both on the phone for half an hour and fix this whole thing and have him moving. Watching this whole thing for an INFJ is like an INTP watching someone struggle with a rubics cube. Just ask for help already!!

      • J.E.
        J.E. says:

        I’m an INFJ as well and I know we need to have those extra details and context. I wish Penelope had mentioned earlier that the farmer has scaled back his work to the point of saying he’s semi retired and that he has things he wants to pursue that would best be done in a city. I had no idea about either of those things and it does kind of sway things.

  16. Stephanie
    Stephanie says:

    Perhaps the farmer does not want to meet his goals. Do your kids? Or is it you who wants your kids to meet their goals? Is it you who wants the farmer to meet his goals? It is not your responsibility to make sure other people meet their goals. You can only control you. Set goals for yourself not others.

    Maybe love to the farmer means you helping to pitch hay or muck out pens. If you want to talk to each other that may be a good time as men are more apt to open up through shared activity. Men are not socialized to talk things out. That can scare them especially an ISTP farmer. You demand, he withdraws. Until it is a perpetual cycle where you are no longer communicating except to “talk” in the form of monotonous facts that neither of you care about.

    Telling him tidbits about the kids like how the internet is faster in Swarthmore so they win more is not making him feel close. You’re emasculating him by making him feel as if his farm isn’t good enough for you and the kids. Men want to make their wives happy. By saying that to him you’re conveying your unhappiness and indicating he cannot provide for his family. Make him feel like a man.

    You’re trying to change your husband into something he is not. You cannot change other people. They are who they are and will only change if they want to. Focus on yourself. If you want your relationship to work then show him you want it to work in a way he will understand. Suck it up, strap on your boots, and go shovel some shit.

  17. Mark Combs
    Mark Combs says:

    Penelope, I love how this post made me feel. I hope the Farmer reads and gets it as well. He’s loved deeply. Keep writing & blogging. Sometimes it’s entertaining and other times useless but this one….Nailed It!

  18. jessica
    jessica says:

    I have an ISTP brother. There is zero chance he would put up with something like this. They are incredibly independent and do not need commitment to others. They are good, practical guys though. I’d see him saying ‘you moved there, deal with the consequences’ added to that, they are not driven by feeling but they hold genuine honesty extremely high in their values. I don’t think this approach will get farmer to swarthmore, because even though you are trying to be honest he is probably holding you personally accountable for moving so far away in the first place.

  19. Stephanie Ko
    Stephanie Ko says:

    As an ENTP I’m learning to be more goal-oriented, and it’s painful. Sometimes I quit too soon, sometimes too late because I overcompensate. Sometimes I’m afraid of taking the wrong action, sometimes I’m worried about taking no action. But I learned that having a big goal is about having confidence in yourself that you can reach it, even though it looks lofty and elusive. So deciding on what goal to set is also about mustering up the courage to take a leap of faith.

  20. Kristin
    Kristin says:

    Penelope, thank you for sharing that love letter. There are 904 miles approximately a 13 hour drive between you and the farmer.
    Meet halfway once in a while. Send him love letters. Send him presents. Just love him. I recently lost my father to cancer. Several years ago I almost lost my husband to a heart attack. Those experiences have changed everything for me.
    I wish you, the farmer and the kids the best, and I hope that you stay together.

    • Penelope Trunk
      Penelope Trunk says:

      Many people have given me advice similar to yours– to act like we are dating. Do special things. Etc. This seems like good advice. And it’s very telling if we can’t do it.


  21. Kirk
    Kirk says:

    I’m just taken aback that you are trying to address feelings with analytics. Why would you rather live over a dunkin donuts than on a farm? Allow your kids to have time on the farm, time to spend by themselves with nature. They will thank you for it eventually; I’m glad I have been able to thank my parents for allowing me to grow up on a farm. My father worked me hard, but I had the great opportunity to spend more time with him than most of my friends were able to spend with their fathers, and that is one of the greatest blessings of my life.

  22. Nen
    Nen says:

    Many commenters above have said that they think this is a great love letter and full of emotion, but I don’t agree. (And I’m not even an S or an F, I’m an NT.)
    I think it sounds manipulative, short-sighted, narcissistic, and decidedly un-romantic.

  23. Eliza
    Eliza says:

    I need career/job advice — I would describe myself as incompetent. Yes, I didn’t use the wrong word. Incompetent people need to eat too, despite the system we have which hints otherwise. I’ve held mutiple positions where I am the very best employee they have up until the moment I can’t take it for one more second. I disappear and am never heard from again. I’m not at all proud of it. It makes it impossible to get recommendations. But it is now an actual verifiable pattern. I hate it. I loathe it. I’ve tried VERY hard to reform myself. But it appears to be who I am. And like I said, I need to eat too.

    Maybe you’ll consider this idea for a blog post. Thanks.

  24. Donna
    Donna says:

    Dear Penelope, marriage is not a goal, or a dream. I can see in this blog that some of your “dreams” are turning out to be illusions. And they’re fading fast. Dreams and goals are for “one”,-you. Love is for “two” and requires action and sacrifice. Go back to the farm and love your husband. Invest in THAT dream and your reality will be much better than your “one” goals and dreams are now.*
    When you’re in an upside down bottle half filled with water floating in the ocean, the only way out is down.
    *”better” is not “easier”. “Better” means sure, solid, without “fake”.
    Go watch “Sabrina” with Harrison Ford.
    Take the leap.

    • Gail
      Gail says:

      “Sabrina” the remake, not the original with Audrey Hepburn, Humphrey Bogart, and William Holden?!?!?!

  25. Hackrelation
    Hackrelation says:

    I have to admit that most of your blog posts are entertaining. Well, that was a great idea with a backup plan. It may be hard to choose what’s best for you but with the courage to take a stand in whatever your choices are, you’ll have a narrow path to success.

  26. Bill
    Bill says:

    So hard to go against natural inclinations… The very things that are attractive between opposites are also very irritating sometimes.

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