my boss expects me to share my personal health/diet/spirituality/fitness goals every week

A reader writes:

I report weekly to my boss (the company owner, who I’ll call Dan) for a one-on-one meeting where we discuss workplace goals pertaining to my role. According to Dan, I perform beyond expectations, and he tells me constantly how lucky and happy he is to have me on his team.

That said, in these meetings, Dan also expects me to share my weekly progress toward a personal five-year SMART goal (there’s an accountability spreadsheet I’m meant to fill out alongside work deliverables every week).

My personal goals have been tied to current home renovations and to aggressively paying off my house, but Dan wants personal improvement goals along the lines of health, diet, spirituality, or fitness. He says he wants to help support my personal goals (and I do think he means well), but my personal goals are honestly personal. I may share them with my family, close friends, or trusted professionals in the proper environment, but I don’t see an authentic or organic reason to share them in the workplace — let alone with my boss.

My husband thinks Dan is just trying to coach and to be supportive and that I should just make something up to keep him happy (say I’m reading a book per month or learning a foreign language), but I don’t get why Dan feels the need to hold me accountable when my personal goals have nothing to do with my job. Am I overthinking this?

You aren’t overthinking it. This is overstepping and inappropriate.

Dan isn’t your doctor or spiritual leader or friend or parent or spouse. He is your boss. Your progress toward personal, outside-of-work goals is none of his business.

This is, frankly, weird and wrong.

Sometimes managers do like to see people set “personal improvement goals” but those are generally still tied to work — things like improving your public speaking skills or becoming a better writer or mastering a new software. Sometimes they even get further way from work but still remain in the plausibly professional realm — like learning a new language or building your network or taking on a leadership role in an industry group.

Under no circumstances should your boss ask you to report to him about your health, diet, spirituality, or fitness goals.

Ugh, it’s so gross and inappropriate that he wants you to.

You have two options here:

First, you can address this directly by saying something like, “I’m of course happy to work with you on my progress toward work goals. But my personal goals are just that — personal. Especially around things like health, diet, spirituality, or fitness. Those aren’t things I’m comfortable bringing into the workplace. So I’m going to keep this sheet focused on my work goals from here on out.”

If he pushes back, you can say, “I’d be glad to set up some personal goals that do relate to work in some way, like improving my ____ (insert something here you’re comfortable with that isn’t in an overly personal category). It sounds like you’d prefer me to do that, so I’ll plan on it. But I’m just not up for bringing my personal life into it beyond that.”

Alternately, if you don’t think Dan would react well to that or you don’t want to use the capital to push back, the other option is what your husband suggested — make up something bland* to placate Dan. You’re trying to read more, or you’re walking more frequently, or cooking more, so forth.

I don’t like this option because you shouldn’t have to play along with this, but if you calculate that you’d rather play along, it’s fine to do.

* Or you could go with not bland at all! You’re dabbling in the dark arts, or having more sex with your husband — or not with your husband  or working to dismantle the patriarchy.

Perhaps not, but Dan is really asking for this.

{ 658 comments… read them below }

  1. WearingManyHats*

    DISMANTLE THE PATRIARCHY!! On board with that kind of goal setting and may have half jokingly told everyone that was the purpose of our Diversity and Inclusion group!

    But yeah, this is a major over reach on your boss’ part.

    1. Venus*

      I also love “dismantling the patriarchy”, but in my experience it tends to be a work-related topic and goal. Unless it involves learning carpentry or plumbing (more traditionally ‘male’) and having one’s husband do dishes and vacuum?

    2. Lexin*

      I may suggest to my colleagues in the Wellbeing Group we have at my office that we Dismantle the Patriarchy. It would improve my wellbeing no end.

    3. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      This is hilarious! He is in a very patriarchal religion. Everyone who reports to him is female, so this feels like a weird religious extension power play to me, to be honest. That’s partially why I hate it so much.

      1. Three Flowers*

        Oh my, this makes it so so much worse. Now voting for “using the dark arts to dismantle the partriarchy”.

        Also, if he’s pushing his patriarchal religion in any way, you’ve got a situation way beyond a well meaning boss showing misguided “support”, especially since it’s to all female employees. Do you have HR?

        1. Stay-at-homesteader*

          Seconded. Ugh, I went from being incredulous and annoyed to thoroughly grossed out and angry after hearing those details.

        2. OP with Snoopy Boss*

          No HR. It’s a tiny company run by him, his wife, his sister, one other employee, and a few virtual assistants.

            1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

              I was thinking that, too! “My goal is to soup up my resume and look for work where religion and business are kept separate.”

            2. AuroraLight37*

              I think this should be an unspoken goal so the LW doesn’t get fired, but it should definitely be a goal!

          1. Jadelyn*

            Dear dog, get out, get out now. This is exactly the kind of dysfunction tiny family-run companies are infamous for.

          2. JSPA*

            Someone who wanted to be a spiritual leader, could not find a congregation, and bought himself one instead by way of hiring people. This is uncomfortably cult-esque in form, even if that’s not his explicit intention.

            Frankly, your husband is right, not because it’s not a big deal, but because it is a big deal. It’s basic ‘gray rock’ tactics, adapted for the workplace.

            “My husband and I are regularly setting time aside to seek a deeper spiritual connection. Focusing on work at work, and focusing on physical, spiritual and emotional life at home, has been very powerful for both of us. We are very grateful to have jobs that allow us to do this. What you’re doing, by letting me leave work at work, is the single best thing any boss could do, in that regard.”

            That said, if he spontaneously tries to clutch both your hands in his and pray with you, be ready to have a “startle response” that includes slapping his glasses off his face and shrieking. (Bringing this up because if you don’t consider the possibility, and it comes to pass, you will be yet another of the long list of people struck dumb by the awkwardly unexpected.)

          3. Three Flowers*

            How long have you been there, and are you in love with the work environment in every other way? Has this nonsense been on the rise, and if so, do you think It might be the precursor to other problems/a red flag factory?

            1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

              I’ve been working here about four months? He has this bull in a china shop approach to everything. It’s like he has no filter. He’s not self-aware.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          How about “Study for my first degree initiation into Gardnerian Wicca”? (Yes, I’m being sarcastic, but when they ask for ‘spiritual’ goals, that could easily be the goal – it takes a year and a day.)

          You could look into a course on “Identifying mysognistic religious cults and avoiding them”… ;)

          1. AnnaBananna*

            Weeeellll, some could easily point out that the Gardeners were also mysognists, despite their devotion to their goddess.

          2. TardyTardis*

            You could always claim to be working the Avatar course (enlightenment meets multi-level marketing).

      2. Putting the "pro" in "procrastinate"*

        Are others of his reports willing to push back on it with you? Alison often notes here that there is safety and power in numbers.

        1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

          Unfortunately, it’s just me who disagrees with the ask. Everyone else is either related to him or is doing it to get the paycheck. I’m the only one who pushed back!

      3. Catalin*

        Severely malicious compliance option: “My husband isn’t comfortable with me discussing personal matters at work; I’m sure you understand” *changes subject to something appropriate*

        (Totally, 100% kidding, unless you like the idea and can pull it off deadpan.)

        1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

          I disagree with the idea of having to do this on principle, but…if you just want him to shut up and don’t care about principles, this might work.

        2. ten-four*

          I mean in principle she 100% should not have to, but this boss sounds like a loon. If you can pull it off I think this wins the tactical award for malicious compliance!

          1. TardyTardis*

            I once avoided going to a banquet with some Saudis while on TDY by saying, “I don’t think my husband would approve.” Never had a moment’s trouble with any of them after that.

        3. Ann Nonymous*

          Yeah, play to boss’ game where you pretend to be submitting to and obeying your husband’s directions which in theory, according to your boss’ religion, would trump his (the boss’) nosiness. <- I both like and dislike this approach. Or, you can do what Allison and other suggest and make your boss squirm with fake, too-personal goals.

        4. JSPA*

          Edit: “Through our deepening spirituality, my husband and I have come to a mutual policy of keeping personal matters in the home, and work matters at work. Thank you so much for making this breakthrough possible.”

          From then on, waggle a finger, and smile, and say, “personal is for the home!” and “Thank you for continuing to make our happiness and personal development possible!”

          1. BerkeleyFarm*

            I think this is a good one, although boss may still retaliate as OP is thwarting his “”God given”” desire to be a spiritual leader/paterfamilias in the workplace. I absolutely do NOT recommend trolling with other religious paths, that WILL 100% get pushback/retaliation.

            “Thanks for helping us continue on our spiritual path.”

            Source: ex fundamentalist

        5. There's probably a cat meme to describe it*

          Nuclear malicious option: “I’ve been practicing mindfulness on themes, and lately I’ve found great inspiration from the uplifting quotes on the back of my feminine hygiene wrappers! Today’s theme is ‘be carefree’, so I’ve been making a conscious effort to take a breezier approach to life. Although… I was perhaps a little too ‘carefree’ on remembering to bring enough with me today…” **significant glance at chair** “…do you think we’ll need much longer for this meeting, Dan?”

          1. Ginar369*

            I love this one!!!

            I was going to suggest she say “well hubby and I are going on a retreat this weekend to work on our tantric sex goals.”

      4. Sandman*

        OHHHHHHHH no. This really shades how I see this, too. I worked for a person like this and it was so, so gross. So much overstepping with no respect for personal/professional boundaries or rules of engagement. It was also the most dysfunctional office I’ve ever worked in with by far the worst management, so… is this the only issue? I’m personally religious, but there’s a particular brand of religiousity in the workplace that is really toxic.

      5. Benjamin*

        Google both “history is a weapon” and “diversifying syllabi weebly” for a great sets of reading lists and films about diversity in history and philosophy topics. There are links at the latter too for the American Philosophical Association’s diversity lists as well. Tell him your passion is third (intersectionality) and fourth (#metoo movement) wave feminism and you are really looking forward to telling him all about it.

          1. Benjamin*

            Also, a plan to deconstruct “The Poisonwood Bible” by Barbara Kingsolver reflecting deeply on themes of race, religiosity, and colonialism section by section would last you about 49 weeks. A worthwhile investment of 1-2 hours per week and of course you look forward to telling him all about it…

              1. Shad*

                Oh I quite enjoyed that book!
                I was able to basically get out of an intro-level English course by writing an essay on it instead of the normal grinding writing assignments.

      6. Sparrow*

        Oh, no, that makes it worse. I’d be using Alison’s first script and shutting this down hard, but I don’t know your situation or how he’s likely to respond – do what you need to do, but definitely don’t feel obligated to open up your personal life to him!

        1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

          I’m spiritual, but I keep work and personal life SO so separate. It’s SO inapropes to cross those boundaries.

          1. paxfelis*

            Maybe you should tell him you’re working on establishing and strengthening personal boundaries, and every time he tries to cross then you should thank him for the practice at maintaining them?

      7. Lynca*

        Then we definitely need to double down on the goals being witchcraft for maximum effect (joking only sort of).

      8. DANGER: Gumption Ahead*

        In addition to overthrowing the patriarchy, I’d be tempted with saying my goal is to get better at enforcing boundaries and then count my not doing this as my progress

      9. Jules the 3rd*

        Um, lede buried! All his reports are female, he’s into his religion enough that you know about it, you feel this is related to that religion – those are flags. Orange at least.

        1) TRUST YOUR GUT. What this feels like to you is probably what it is.
        2) Use whatever script you have to, in order to not participate. “Personal is personal” to “my husband says no.” If you end up forced to participate, avoid ‘spiritual’ at all costs.
        3) Step back and really look at your work environment. How does your pay relate to the area / industry average? Is there high turnover / pressure for women to leave if they become parents? Are his reports diverse, or do many have similar ages / looks? Does he have favorites? Do those favorites ‘age out’? Not saying he’s sexist, or even that you’d have to leave if he was, but make sure that you’ve got a clear view of the big picture, and think through the likely implications for you.

      10. Jadelyn*

        Oh ew. I was already feeling gross about this but now I feel like I need to go take a shower. With bleach.

      11. Caroline Bowman*

        then a good question is, ”why do you want this information? I prefer to keep my professional and personal life separate”.

        Make him spell out why he wants this information from you and then just look at him for a few moments with a very neutral expression and ask again why it is important to your work and role within the company that you provide information of a very personal nature. Repeat relentlessly till he gets uncomfortable.

        I am a very rabid atheist so this probably pushes my buttons unduly but I cannot, cannot bear the entrenched, thoughtless entitlement to ”guiding” (particularly women) that these types have. They’re often well-meaning and kind generally, it’s just so patronising. I loathe being nannied.

    4. Everdene*

      “Overthrow the patriarchy” was on our wedding planning to do list. I’m a little sad that one never got crossed off (but I didn’t get given away, change my name or throw flowers/underwear at the guests so…baby steps?).

      1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

        Hrrm…now I’m thinking “underwear cannon” (like a t-shirt cannon) should go on my non-existent “wedding planning” list. Why just have the bride throw a garter when you can make sure 50 lucky guests get complimentary brand new wedding-logo boxer shorts?

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          It would be more fun and also more useful than any wedding favor I’ve ever received.

        2. Everdene*

          I wish I had done this. We had a wedding logo but didn’t think to put it on underwear! Or hire a cannon! (Some of) our guests would’ve loved it.

    5. AKchic*

      “I’m working on saying no to people on things that they have no business asking me about when they are overstepping their role in my life” and then look pointedly at him.

    6. Ellen*

      My brain is AFIRE with potential NOT WORK SAFE goals. Sleep with 100 different human people (let him wonder), stay out of jail for 100 days, report my boss for inappropriate overreaching- the possibilities are endless!

      1. Happy Pineapple*

        Oh wow, this brought back a memory from college! I took an incredibly interesting, progressive SexEd (not sure if that word gets passed the censors) class for a wellness requirement. One of my classmates shared that she had a world map and would mark off the nationality of every person she slept with, the goal being to get as many countries as possible.

        1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

          I had a college friend who was using one of those “purity tests” (100 or 500 questions about various things you have and haven’t done) as a checklist. She was excited the first time she rented a U-Haul so she could check off the one about “in a vehicle over such-and-such weight”.

          I assume these sorts of tests are still floating around the internet somewhere, so that would certainly be a possible way to set wildly-inappropriate work goals. “I’m currently only at 25% completion of the 500 Point Purity Checklist. My five year goal is to get that over 50%. To pursue that goal, this year I’m going to focus on the ‘location’ category, and I’ve identified the following list of opportunities for you to help with this by allowing me to access the listed work locations and vehicles on evenings and weekends.”)

          1. Tina*

            Surprisingly enough for someone who grew up deep in Christian fundamentalist ‘purity culture’, I had never heard of these. Just spent a happy hour googling.

            1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

              I encountered them as things groups of friends/acquaintances would take at both my very liberal high school and my very liberal college, so it may be that they’re more common further away from actual purity culture. It was something of a proxy for “who in the group is having sex already” without having to actually ask that during the time of time where that’s a question teens are wondering about. (People would mostly announce scores rather than exactly which questions they’d answered yes or no to.)

              I have no idea if this is still a thing now, as high school and college was quite a while back for me now. I’m old enough that many of my friends have children, so the “are you Doing It yet?” question has been thoroughly answered with socially-acceptable evidence (and is no longer interesting as a question regardless).

    7. TexasRose*

      “My goal this week is to clearly set boundaries between my personal and professional lives.”

  2. Precious Wentletrap*

    Malicious compliance time! Pick a theme and have every goal centered around it, e.g. goats:
    *breed goats
    *sacrifice goats
    *tan goat hide
    *make and learn to play anatolian goatskin pipes
    *eat more goat meat/milk
    *goat yoga

    And so forth

    1. Chaotic Neutral*

      Making goat cheese
      reviving fainting goats
      learning to bleat like a goat
      knitting with goat’s hair

        1. Zelda*

          Also mohair. Add in various techniques that showcase the fibers (lace, sweaters, shaped hats), and you have an extensive number of permutations available.

    2. Kaitlyn*

      I found out a couple years ago that you can make caramels out of goat milk, so let’s add that to the list.

        1. GoatGal*

          It takes me 4+ hours to make 2 pints of cajeta. It is soooo worth it.

          Wait…there is a problem with talking about goats at work????

      1. Marny*

        I bought a jar of salted goat milk caramel sauce and it was amazing so yes, definitely focus on this goal.

      2. LKW*

        Yes – a relative used goat butter in all her baked goods as her husband was allergic to cow and sheep’s milk, totally delicious stuff too.

    3. Belle of the Midwest*

      Become a clown at the next goat rodeo in town (or at your office–with this guy in charge it’s just a matter of time)

    4. Philosophia*

      And then bring your gaida to the office and practice on your lunch hour!
      (All together now) GET THE BOSS’ GOAT.

    1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

      What if your personal goals included “becoming more aware of the disproportionate emotional and domestic labor that women do”? Explore a new topic once a week. In excruciating detail. First week: “here are the 27 things I had to do to plan the last family vacation. I’m going to working on shifting these 9 tasks to my partner/brother/whoever next time.”

      1. ten-four*

        oh my god, please do this (assuming you don’t opt for one of the malicious compliance tactics in the thread off the first comment, many of which are hilarious)

  3. CatCat*

    Ha! Early in my career I worked at a place that had this kind of boundary overstepping and pushing back would not have gotten a good reaction. I did the bland route. So, SO bland. I said I wanted to improve my processes for doing laundry. And then I gave laundry updates. It eventually all petered out on its own and I credit some of that to my topic being so banal.

    1. It's Perks, Sir*

      You know, my life would actually improve if I updated my laundry processes…

      I mean, I’m probably not going to, but this will be my go-to if anyone above me ever gets super interested in my personal goals.

    2. Amber Rose*

      Wow. I was trying really hard to think up something more banal than that and I can’t. :D
      The best I could come up with was making soup. I bet you could learn about a new kind of soup every week.

      1. MistOrMister*

        I’ve started canning and I bet I could bore the socks off of anyone discussing canning processes. “Well, sure the jars SEALED, but they’ve got white stuff that has to be washed off so I must have hard water. My goal for the month is to research ways to negate this. Next months goal is coming up with better storage spaces for the empty jars….”heh

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          I for real would love to have a weekly on-the-clock meeting in which we discussed soup and canning. If we can add “baking” to that list, you’re pretty much describing my dream job.

          1. OlympiasEpiriot*

            I can contribute and absolutely foolproof bread recipe. It is lovely. It is reliable. I could add that to my goals.

              1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                It is this one from the New York Times food section November, 2006. I personally prefer it with 1-3/4 teaspoons of salt. In the comments on the website there’s some weights (which are more reliable to use for baking). I always use a bread flour — the higher gluten/protein content is important. There’s Pillsbury and King Arthur both widely available in bread flours, I think. Note *instant* yeast. I buy a pound bag of SAF yeast and keep it in a sealed, airtight container in the fridge. Lots of good recipes using it. If you don’t see it at your store, it can be ordered from the King Arthur online store.

                https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/11376-no-knead-bread

                Variations I have done that worked:
                1) Add 1/4 cup flax seeds that have been pulsed briefly in a spice grinder, use whole flax seeds as the “dusting” on the bottom towel during the last rise. when tipped in, those end up mostly on top.
                2) Substitute 1 cup of rye flour for one of the cups of bread flour.
                3) Make the flours half white bread flour, half whole wheat.

                I plan on trying out some oat flour with some rolled oats that I’ve soaked a bit in water…that’ll be a bit trickier because I don’t want to throw off the water ratio.

                1. OlympiasEpiriot*

                  PS: I make it in a cast iron chicken frying pan — that comes with a tight, heavy lid and is about 4.5 inches deep. Have had it for years, gets used more for baking than fried chicken, but works great when I use it for its intended purpose.

        2. DrTheLiz*

          I know it’s off-topic, but… did you know that lemon juice (or white vinegar) is extremely effective at getting rid of hard water stains? Giving jars a “lemon rinse” with ~1 tbsp/liter diluted lemon juice will likely help with the crusty white bits without ruining the flavour.

          1. JohnSnowsPumpHandle*

            Thanks!!! That is actually soup-er helpful.
            Sorry for the pun. Couldn’t help myself.

          2. Boop*

            But what do you do about the hard water residue around the tops of your plant pots? Drives me crazy.

        3. Curmudgeon in California*

          I do both water bath and pressure canning. A personal goal in this area would be to “Make and pressure can one batch of soup/chili/spaghetti sauce each month”. Banal as hell, but very yummy.

          BTW, hard water means adding a small amount of vinegar to the water. If you do this, don’t let the water stand after cooling in your canner with the racks in – it will pit an aluminum pressure canner.

        4. EmbracesTrees*

          “Next months goal is coming up with better storage spaces for the empty jars….”

          PLEASE share when you figure this one out. I swear they breed and multiply behind closed cabinet doors. =)

          1. Curmudgeon in California*

            I second this. I have a roommate that complains about too much crap in the kitchen.

      2. whingedrinking*

        I recently have been experimenting with ways to make ice so that it comes out perfectly clear. I’d be happy to share my findings with anyone who needs a really boring topic.

    3. Artemesia*

      But how did you get your sock’s whiter than white? The potential for laundry as a fake goal is magnificent. I still remember those TV ads in the 50s and 60s that could make anyone feel inferior forever about their ‘housewifely skills’ and hence their value as a human being.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        Matching socks! That should be good for several meetings worth at least. Did you know that my husband has dozens of pairs of black socks, all of them almost-but-not-quite identical? It’s nearly impossible to match them all, and then of course there’s the ones that get lost in the dryer, amirite? So I’ve started this process of safety pinning them all together before they go in the washer, and that works but it makes the laundry take that much longer, so now I’m looking for a new process, and I’m considering these six options…

            1. Matilda Jefferies*

              Ha, yes! That was intended as a hypothetical answer for the OP, with the goal of boring their boss to death with “personal development” stories.

        1. Bee*

          Hah, they actually make little plastic rings for this exact purpose!! My dad used them for his almost-matching black socks when I was a kid. (I mean, he may still, but I don’t witness the laundry anymore.)

          1. Timothy (TRiG)*

            I bought some online, and only after they arrived did I realize that they’re tax-free, as they’re mostly intended for blind people.

          2. KRM*

            My mom sewed different letters in different colors on my dad’s socks so she could match them easier.

        2. BeckySuz*

          I’ve been safety pinning socks for years. It’s my favorite laundry hack. Getting my husband and kids to do it is another feat altogether. Then of course they complain they have no socks….well…yeah. I’ll be over here in the corner with my matching socks on looking smug if you need me

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            Here’s an option that may work for your kids. I have a lingerie bag that I hang on the wall next to the hamper. When I take off my socks, i ball them up and put them in the bag. On wash day, I just unball them, leave them int he bag, zip it up and throw the whole thing int he washer and dryer. BOOM, all the socks stay together. You don’t even really need to ball them when you put them in the bag, that’s mostly a habit I just developed over time, but it does keep the rogue sock from making a Mission Impossible escape to run off and elope with a bobby pin before it gets to the washer.

            1. BeckySuz*

              Maybe I’ll try that. It’s really more laziness on my boys part than anything. Which makes me super ragey. I have tins of safety pins in all the rooms, but they continue to toss them on the floor. My daughter is good about rolling them together before she puts them in her laundry basket but my 3 boys and husband toss them wherever they take them off. My solution to that has been gathering enormous baskets of socks together and making THEM match them up. Then I throw away everything without a mate.

          1. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            This is my solution too. I have 7 pairs of blue Wigwam hiking socks and 7 pairs of purple Wigwam hiking socks, and I do laundry weekly on sock-color-changing day. Every 3 or 4 years, when they start to get holes in them, I pick two new colors and buy 14 more pairs of Wigwam hiking socks and replace them all at once, usually during the Fred Meyer Sock Sale when they’re cheaper. (The survivors from the previous cohort of socks then become my “backup” socks.)

          2. Iris Eyes*

            Yes to this. Both male sock wearers have a designated brand and cut of sock we do not deviate from the plan. #1 tip for new moms, all identical socks you don’t need to waste your time matching socks just to have something “cute.” Let the rest of the outfit be cute.

            1. Glitsy Gus*

              My sister went with the “babies look adorable in mismatched socks” option, which also works very well.

              1. Jaydee*

                My son went for the “I can express my personality and look adorable at the same time with mismatched socks” option as soon as he was old enough to pick his own socks. The only downside is the occasional weird tan lines when he would wear one tall sock and one short sock on a day he was outside a lot. But usually it would balance out over the course of a summer.

              2. Salymander*

                My daughter has not worn matching socks since she started dressing herself without any help when she was ~4 years old. She says matching socks are boring, and that artists wear mismatched socks as a sign of creativity. I don’t know if I buy that, but at least all the rogue socks get worn, as they are paired with different colors anyway. A few other moms have given me the side eye, and my MIL thinks I have low standards, but I don’t really care as long as I don’t have to deal with all the socks.

      2. LaSalleUGirl*

        I remember being subjected to endless commercials about ring-around-the-collar in the 1980s. Did our detergents just improve to the point where they ALL get out ring-around-the-collar now? Did people largely stop wearing the kinds of shirts that are prone to that malady? Did we as a society just decide that we don’t care about ring-around-the-collar anymore? Whither the ring-around-the-collar pearl-clutching?!

        1. Toads, Beetles, Bats*

          I’m going with: weird national consensus that all office spaces must be air conditioned to 65 degrees.

        2. DrTheLiz*

          I certainly still get it. I find that a spritz of stain remover on collar, cuff and underarm works wonders at keeping it away. I wonder if wearing shirts open-collared instead of with ties has decreased the rate of buildup, though?

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            I think this is actually it. My roommate has one of the rare jobs that still requires collars and ties everyday and he has to stain treat the collars and cuffs of his shirts or they get grungy. His “off hours” collared shirts that he wears open at the neck, though, never need the same TLC because there isn’t as much skin-to-fabric contact throughout the day. I think with the rise of “hoodies as office wear,” ring around the collar just isn’t the scourge it used to be.

      3. Bluebell*

        Sock statistics! Percentage matched, any lost, do any have holes in them, etc. So much potential for tedium!

        1. Amy Sly*

          I’ve been known, during periods of deep cleaning, to post on Facebook: “Heartless conservative gives ultimatum to widowed socks: find a mate or get out!”

          1. PhyllisB*

            One day when four of my grand-children lived with us, I decided to devote time to matching up socks. I ended up matching up THIRTY pairs of socks. Which left me with two burning questions: 1. How did they end up with so many socks? 2. Why did I just waste a day doing this? Actually three questions: 3. Why didn’t I just dump said socks on the kitchen table and tell their MOTHERS to do it? (I know dads can match socks, but there were no dads living there except my husband, and he was working out of town.)

        2. Meepmeep*

          For that matter, knitting socks is a wonderfully boring topic that one can drone on about for hours. Top down vs toe up, how to make the heel, how to make the toe, one sock at a time or two at a time, and so on and so forth.

          1. Media Monkey*

            top down, fish lips kiss heel, one at a time. obviously. we can argue about kitchener stitch if you like. i hate it but it is the best looking.

            1. Media Monkey*

              now can we talk about the coat i am sewing? i can’t decide whether to catch stitch down the seams on the inside.

              1. Mari4212*

                Is it going to be lined? How fray-prone is the fabric? How active are you going to be in the coat?

                In general, if it’s lined I don’t worry about the seams, because the lining acts as a protection against the seam ends being abraded. I also wouldn’t catch down the seams if the fabric is resistant to fraying.

                If the fabric of the coat seems at all likely to fray, it isn’t being lined, and you’re going to be moving around a lot in it, catching the seams down now will save having to redo the seams later…

          2. Salymander*

            Yes, I can drone on about knitting socks for hours. It could work!

            Though a patriarchal boss might get all misty eyed over the whole idea of it and start asking for handmade knitwear.

            Those inappropriate knitting demands are annoying. I deal with them by getting really excited about the knitting class I will soon be teaching, and the demander-of-my-knitting can just learn to make things themselves! So exciting!
            At university, I successfully scared off a whole dormful of dudes who were pestering me for knitwear. Only one even tried to learn, and he gave up very quickly (I tried to be extra boring).

    4. Welling*

      I agree that sometimes pushing back can do more harm than good. In that case, the bland route is the best option. He probably thinks this is going to be really beneficial to the OP, but once he sees that it isn’t, he might just drop it after a while.

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        I wonder. He got bored with my actual goals of paying down the house aggressively and making positive changes to it to save energy, make it solar, etc–all super valid and interesting to me. I’m sure he’ll soon get bored with the fact that I’m reading a book about mid-century landscaping. I’m not here for his coaching or entertainment purposes.

          1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

            It’s called “The Midcentury Modern Landscape”. As far as books go, it’s all right. I was hoping for more actionable goals, and this is more historical in nature. Still, I highly recommend it!

        1. WorkIsADarkComedy*

          So he complains about reruns or presses you for new goals?

          Try writing down a bunch of bland goals on separate pieces of paper, fold them up, and put them in a box marked “Placating Resources”. Then when it seems that boss is beginning to squirm during the eighth discussion of keeping pantry moths out of your flour, you can go to the well and pick up a new one.

        2. Glitsy Gus*

          It sounds more and more like he wants something kinda juicy that he can step in and give lots of advice and cheer leading on like “lose 15 lbs” or “run a marathon.” Or maybe he’s hoping for the Holy Grail of bringing you into the flock to meet your goal of finding “spiritual fulfillment.” Don’t give in! Just keep up with the boring to him but interesting to you home improvement and book reading goals.

        3. Trix*

          I mean, even that is a step too far, unless your work directly concerns home finance or improvements.
          As of course you know, unless it’s something that will directly contribute to your ability to do your job, it really and literally is none of his business!
          Ugh. I myself would probably go to “broken record” route – “Hm, I’m having a tough time thinking of something that would help my productivity in the office, other than (office thing and office thing).” “There is that convention I’d to attend re (office thing) that I’m sure would be insightful.” “Well, my spiritual practice is very personal, other than of course enabling me to be a better person in general, so I don’t feel I can set goals with it that specifically pertain to the office.”
          Literally the only “personal” thing I can think of – other than the professional improvement stuff Alison mentions – is perhaps contributing to or volunteering for a charity that works in or is allied with the area or domain your work operates in?

    5. Snoop*

      This is perfect ‘gray rock’ material. Stealing it and adding it to a no drama cheatsheet. But seriously, I love household hacks so feel free to share your findings. :)

      1. anony*

        This was my go to. I started listening to the Ask a Clean Person podcast, and a lot of my conversations were about laundry sanitizer at work for a while. It changed my life.

        1. fposte*

          One of my favorite life milestones is my 20 minute conversation about flavored Crisco. Once I started I just got curious to see how long I could keep it going.

            1. Amy Sly*

              Butter flavored. Gives you the buttery flavor you want in pie crust but with less moisture (and thus less potential for chewy gluten).

          1. Elitist Semicolon*

            I hope someday to cross paths with you IRL, preferably at a very boring work function with a mansplainer who needs taking down.

        2. M. Albertine*

          Heh. Jolie will do that to you! I will extol the virtues of the long soak any day – I started keeping a bucket of OxyClean water in the laundry room.

      2. Pay No Attention To The Man Behind The Curtain*

        Laundry hack for greasy stains (butter, lipstick, ring around the collar, etc.): Dawn dish detergent (the original). Tiny bit on the stain, rub it in and let it sit/soak for a few hours. Way cheaper than any of the stain products in the laundry aisle and I’ve never had a problem with it hurting the fabric.

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          Also the only non-specialized product I’ve found that gets bicycle grease out of clothing.

    6. LQ*

      Dishes for me. I talked about a new cast iron pan for about 6 months whenever anyone would ask overly personal questions I didn’t want to answer. Seasoning it. Reading about how to get it well seasoned soon. Cleaning it. Accidentally putting something very acid in it and did it ruin it. And on and on and on.

      1. Just J.*

        +1 Love cast iron. You could even get into how to identify antique cast iron skillets, the processes to restore them, their value to collectors, going rates on eBay, and on and on.

        1. AKchic*

          Collecting salt and pepper shakers.

          My grandma has a huge collection, and I want to go the novelty route after I take over her collection. I’ll get rid of her touristy stuff, save the antiques, but really, who wouldn’t want a thousand salt and pepper shakers?

          1. Richard Hershberger*

            I see y’all are coming around to my “narrow hobby interest” approach to things. I am currently reading the Sporting Life from the fall of 1891. Exciting events are brewing! Spoiler: the National League and the American Association are going to merge in about two months. But how do we get there? I could go on for hours…

        1. Richard Hershberger*

          One of its beauties is that it is nearly indestructible. I keep one that is seasoned properly, but another than I will cheerfully abuse. Just warm it over low heat, then scrub it out with brass wool. The purists blanche at this, but it works just fine.

            1. PhyllisB*

              I had one that belonged to my grandmother. Don’t know exactly how old it was when I got it, but I used it for at least 30 years. Until I dropped it on the floor and….it broke in two!! I nearly cried. Had to get a new one and res-season it. That’s been 13 years ago, and it’s almost as good as the old one now!! :-)

    7. LittleRedRiding...huh?*

      This is so much down my alley. Just imagine the possibilities!
      How to make the perfect crease?
      Iron your socks with or against the grain?
      Is pressing underpants still trending?

      I could go on for days, purely because this was exactly the topic I used, when my manager decided to meddle with my personal life.
      He gave up after our 5th one-2-one. Yay me?

    8. Annie Porter*

      Ah yes. Commence new diet (keto’s really popular). Talk nonstop about said diet and its benefits. Detail each new recipe you learn. Add anecdotes about improved bowel function. Start to lecture Dan about how diet would help HIS bowel movements. Share literature confirming the same. Ask about progress. Share more literature.

      Watch Dan’s goalsetting policy fade into eternal darkness.

      1. Zelda*

        This only works if Dan does not himself have any quasi-religious beliefs (pro or anti) about keto or other diets. With a boss that is going for the fad about “managers should involve themselves in their employees’ personal well-being,” I wouldn’t necessarily count on that. Getting into diet wars with a boss who thinks he knows better for your life than you do doesn’t sound like any fun.

        But if, by some miracle, he hasn’t already picked the One True Diet for Everyone, then the masterstroke in your plan is turning it around and managing *his* life right back at him. Brilliant.

      2. Coder von Frankenstein*

        That is a very dangerous road to go down. Dan seems like the kind of guy who might get on board with the diet and want to bond over it.

    9. Quill*

      Any tips on getting fewer “dryer moth” holes in women’s t-shirts?

      Or was it about remembering to actually take the laundry out of the dryer less than… three days after you did laundry?

      1. Dasein9*

        It will happen eventually because fibers wear out. But it can be delayed by matching laundry as much by texture as by color. Don’t wash coarse things like jeans with soft things like t-shirts.

        I dry everything on a rack instead of using the dryer; that helps too.

        1. Quill*

          Pretty sure I don’t have the floorspace to rack dry, but hmmm. The textures is one to think about, even though most of my jeans aren’t a color match to the shirts that have dryer mothage…

          1. Jules the 3rd*

            Consider a hanging clothesline?

            A friend of mine was in textiles in college, and did a study on wear n tear on clothes. The #1 thing, above type of detergent, heat of water, etc for fiber wear, was a mechanical clothes dryer. And it wasn’t the heat (though low does less damage than high), it was the friction. Something like 95% of fiber damage was due to dryer friction. I have hang-dry space in my office now due to that.

          2. Mockingjay*

            Hang them in your closet, with the door open. Push back the dry clothes so there’s space for air to circulate between the damp items.

            1. Editor*

              I have one of these folding racks, but the upper arms are offset so I can hang long stuff on top and shorter things on the lower arms (I can’t tell from the photo if this one is the same). It folds up and I prop it in the front corner of the closet when not in use.

              https://www.amazon.com/Household-Essentials-5012-1-Portable-Clothes/dp/B004Z91A88/ref=pd_sbs_201_1/142-4679463-6894523?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B004Z91A88&pd_rd_r=198e1c2c-b170-4623-be3b-9a34700d470d&pd_rd_w=BXR9i&pd_rd_wg=GNl8B&pf_rd_p=bdd201df-734f-454e-883c-73b0d8ccd4c3&pf_rd_r=9MHTJ6313T82SFT09A8J&psc=1&refRID=9MHTJ6313T82SFT09A8J

              You could probably get away with a couple of weeks discussing hanging strategies, balancing the load, and air circulation patterns.

          3. Seven hobbits are highly effective, people*

            I used to put a folding drying rack in my bathtub when I had a small apartment. The “accordion-style” ones will usually fit there. I also got some tension rods to put up in interior doorways/the hallway and would put clothes on hangers and hang them up on those. It helps to do less laundry more often, but that’s not always practical. (I also highly recommend getting metal drying racks instead of the cheap wooden ones. Homegoods usually seems to have accordion-style metal racks, and Ikea usually has a range of larger drying rack options if you have space for them.)

            I hang dry pretty much everything but socks, underwear, and towels, and my clothes seem to last a long time this way.

      2. My Brain Is Exploding*

        I feel like it isn’t the dryer, but the high speed spinning of the high efficiency washer. For example, try dialing down from medium to low. Also shake out each piece before putting it in the dryer.

      3. All monkeys are French*

        I find it’s at least partly related to the quality of the t-shirt. I love me a soft, cheap cotton v-neck from a convenient chain store, but they fall apart and get holes so quickly, so I’m trying to find better quality ones, even if they cost more.

    10. AnonEMoose*

      I like to bake. And this year, I’ve decided to stretch my skills and perfect a particular dessert item. It requires fairly elaborate decoration and such. So I’m intending to practice varies pieces of it, then attempt the whole thing, several times until I get it right.

      If your boss really pushes this, maybe you could do something like this. Sufficiently bland, but maybe an example that could work.

      1. PhyllisB*

        AnonEMoose, spill!! What dessert are you trying to perfect? I love to bake, and love complicated recipes. I can also see this turning into a CONVERSATION. With OP’s luck she would discover Dan is a secret chef and would start setting goals about baking.

    11. She who uses powertools*

      I’d go down the home improvement route.
      (I’m a woman. ) “I own an old house. Do you know they don’t sell power tools made for women’s smaller hands? It’s positively dangerous using a high-powered drill when my hands don’t fit all the way around the handle, and don’t get me started on saws! If they do sell power tools for women, they’re pink and shoddily made, and that is dangerous in itself!”
      etc etc etc.

      1. LKW*

        Or you could go down the rabbit hole comparing drills, well the Mikta has benefits A& B while the Black and Decker has other benefits and the Stihl is just the best but it’s $X. So which should I get?

        1. alacrity*

          Personally I’m a big fan of Bosch. The 5-in-one 12v drill is basically all you need for most minor around-the-house things (though discovering they make drillbits for impact drivers also means my 12v impact driver–also Bosch–gets a lot of use. Milwaukee makes a great set). I have a 20v DeWalt hammer drill though, and it’s almost TOO powerful.

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              I wanted to be a Ryobi household for this reason but I have tiny dwarf hands and couldn’t comfortably hold the cordless drill (their weed whacker is a delight for me as A Small, though).

            2. BeckySuz*

              Yeeessss!!! I started building furniture as a hobby a couple years ago and I love me some ryobi tools. Husband got me a right angle power drill last Christmas for tight angles and it’s amazing.

          1. Trix*

            Yes! I was just coming here to yell about those Bosch drills! I’ve got small hands even for a woman of my height, had one for years, and it’s great.

      2. Shadowbelle*

        Yebbut my hands aren’t smaller, though I am a woman (and always have been, except when I was a girl). I have to buy gloves in men’s large.

        Totally agree on the PINK power tools? Oh good grief. My general experience is that anything marketed to women has an 87% chance of being rubbish. Or at least, an 87% chance of being more rubbishy than the equivalent product marketed to men.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          My (well-meaning) dad bought me a set of pink tools when I went to college. That was almost 15 years ago, and I’m still mad at him for it. Thankfully, he admits he should have just gotten me nicer, normal tools, and has given me several of his good tools as I needed them.

          When HIS dad gave my brother (who cares 0% about tools, etc.) his old metal tool chest, my dad gave it to me, because he knew I needed it. Begrudgingly, I must admit that some of the pink tools are still in there – they were sturdier than I expected.

          1. Shadowbelle*

            My dad got me a drill and set of bits one Christmas 20 years ago, because he asked what I wanted for Christmas, and that’s what I said.

            Mind you, he laughed a lot at the idea of giving a drill to “a girl” (who was in her forties at the time!), but he did woodworking in his spare time, so he never would have bought a POS tool, and I can’t imagine he would have bought a pink tool. Tools are serious, even when you’re buying “for a girl”! It was a good Hitachi drill and I’m still using it. The bit case broke this past weekend during my latest home maintenance woodworking project, but being my father’s daughter, naturally I mended it with duct tape and soldiered on.

            I didn’t get any of my father’s tools when he died, but he did live about 2,000 miles away, so that was only to be expected.

            1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

              Sigh, my dad bought me a cheap-ish drill when I moved halfway across the country, as I wouldn’t be able to drag him over every time I needed help with a project. I dropped it a few weeks ago and destroyed the battery casing…now I’m thinking it’s time for an upgrade!

          2. alacrity*

            I have heard stories of women deliberately getting pink tool sets, because their male partners would “borrow” their regular tool kits and never put anything back where they belong. For some reason they left the pink ones alone…

            1. Professional Merchandiser*

              Yep, that’s what I did when I did resets. The men wouldn’t bring their tools because our company issued tool boxes were bright yellow and they felt like that was too “girly.” (Eye Roll) After losing about my 4th hammer and 5th screwdriver, I went out and bought a set of hot pink tools. (I wasn’t using things like power tools so didn’t have to worry about them breaking.) Well, those guys couldn’t get those tools back to me quick enough!! And pretty soon they quit borrowing them all together. Win-win!!

            2. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

              This is actually brilliant, haha! Love all these pink tool stories!

          3. Amy Sly*

            My aunt was a pastor. She finally solved the problem of the church’s hand tools wandering off by dipping the handles in pink paint. None of the guys forgot which one was theirs!

            But yes … you want to make something appealing to women aesthetically? Make it in red or royal blue. We don’t all like pink or other pastels, and we especially don’t want “pink it and shrink it” crap.

        2. Curmudgeon in California*

          I hate pink tools. Drives me nuts. If it’s pink, it’s probably crap.

          The only place I’ll put pink tools is in my car, because they are always cheap because they’re most likely to get stolen. That and men are less likely to borrow and lose them.

        3. AKchic*

          Walmart was selling a few lavender-shaded ones a few years back. Not as many as the pink (or even pink CAMO), but still… lavender. It was a nice… change? But still… why can’t they just make things that fit my hand without calling attention to the whole “This Is For GUUUUURLS” thing? Yes, I have tiny hands. No, they will not break if I don’t get pink, lavender, or camo in one of those two shades.

      3. PhyllisB*

        If you are serious about the power tools question, there is a website that sells tools sized for women. I found it when my granddaughter was taking welding. I can’t remember the name of it now; but if you’re interested I can try to find it. They have the stereotypical pink, but they also have plenty that are just like men’s just sized smaller. Or you could just google women’s tools or some such like I did.

        1. Half April Ludgate, Half Leslie Knope*

          There’s a company out there that makes FLORAL tool sets. Are they pretty? Yes. Would I ever, ever, EVER buy one? A thousand times no.

      4. alacrity*

        If you have a recommendation for a circular saw that works well for women’s hands, I’d love to have it. I have an old Dewalt 18v cordless and it’s difficult to use. Not to mention heavy and nearing the end of its battery life.

        1. Snarkaeologist*

          It’s not a complete replacement, but I end up using my dremel saw max for anything it can possibly cut. It’s less efficient but light and has a fairly comfortable grip.

      5. Snarkaeologist*

        I recently ripped up all the carpet on my stairs and am sanding so I can stain – but I can only do a few stairs at a time before I get serious hand cramps from the grip on the power sander. It’s super frustrating.

        On the bright side, OP: a project like this would give you so many hours of bland material to talk about with your boss. Pros and cons of different pliers and pry bars vs specialized carpet tack removers will get you through at least two meetings just to start. And complaining about shortcuts taken by the people who lived/in worked on the house before you is a endless source of material.

    12. LKW*

      This is fantastic. I’d be tempted to list all of the house cleaning supplies I bought and my calculation for how much work I had to do to afford said items. Dyson vacuum = x hours of salary. Then include rating new equipment and then communications with manufacturers. “Letter to P&G re: Tide extra powerful laundry detergent pods” You could do the same for any product that was important to you, the hunt for the perfect lipstick – well you have to do it every season so each quarter would be a new hunt.

      Or you can pick up a new hobby and go into excruciating detail on said hobby and come with show and tell. I mean, I can go down into the spiral on my hobbies.

    13. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

      You could get a couple of meetings where you focus on optimizing and potential uses for dryer lint.

      1. Quill*

        Restuffing an old bean bag chair.

        … yes, that’s what I’m actually doing with my dryer lint after I learned that the filler is usually styrofoam in those things.

        Which wouldn’t be a bad idea if it was *recycled* styrofoam, god knows the stuff has no other use once it’s too battered for packing peanuts, but…

        1. Elitist Semicolon*

          I am fascinated! Is it a small beanbag or do you do a lot of laundry? Or is this a long-term project?

      2. BookishMiss*

        I used to make paper with dryer lint, so that could be a whole project. Making/sourcing the equipment, ratios of lint to water, what plants press best into paper for decorative purposes…

    14. bluephone*

      I collect/use fountain pens and have Opinions about pen material, nib material, filling methods, contemporary brands, MONTBLANC, ink manufacturers, why flex nibs are overrated, etc etc etc
      Nothing kills a meeting faster, trust me :-)

    15. Paulina*

      I was once approached by people who wanted to know what they could pray for, for me. I allowed them to pray for my tomatoes (since I annually grow tomatoes). It’s also a common personal-ish conversation each summer at work. It’s not so bland as laundry, though (at least they’d better not be).

      1. Dog Foster*

        I’m rather excited about my new workplace as I mentioned saving seeds and now there are plans for a seed exchange!

    16. Collywood*

      My laundry processes could probably actually use some work. I feel like there is a step I’m missing after putting the clothes to dry.

  4. Elemeno P.*

    “This month I remodeled the basement, and it’s made the ritual sacrifices feel SO much cheerier.”

  5. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

    Wow, yeah, that’s inappropriate as hell.

    Are you the only person who reports to Dan? And if not, are you the only person he’s pulling this with? (If he has more reports than just you, I am willing to bet he’s asking similar things of the others, too.) This is the kind of thing it might be worth talking over as a group. As someone Dan rates highly in work-related areas, you’ve got a lot of political capital to push back on this, more than mediocre performers would.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      All of his direct reports are women, all are high ranking, and he does this with everyone.

      1. Heidi*

        So as company owner, how is he finding the time to do this with everyone? Most people I know who own their own businesses are working overtime just to keep everything from falling off a cliff.

      2. Derjungerludendorff*

        So much “NOPE”.
        If you want to push back, collective action is probably a good plan.

      3. SarahKay*

        In that case, have you (all) considered: My personal goal for 2020 is to ensure as many men as possible are as fully educated as possible on all things menstrual?
        I mean, you’ve got so much material there – cups vs tampons vs towels, all rated for comfort, ease of change, environmental impact. Why tax on menstrual items is unreasonable. Why ads show blue liquid instead of red stuff with clots or stringy bits.
        Not to mention you can talk about what else you’re doing to promote awareness – does he think these fliers you’ve created for distribution outside supermarkets are useful? What about this Facebook posting?
        Yes, this assumes that Dan fits the stereotype of men-not-wanting-to-talk-about-these-things, but I think it’s a stereotype for a reason. In my experience even men that are pretty serious about equality don’t want to know details about the blood flow, and start to look uncomfortable.

        1. LKW*

          Was just thinking this myself. A new venture to reduce misinformation and promote health and wellness to anyone with or without a uterus.

        2. Belle of the Midwest*

          oh yes, and why stop there? “in researching for my weekly goal of educating you on this topic, I discovered that there are many men who simply do not understand this process. Did you know that a few years ago, a duly elected Congressman thought women had ‘control” just like he did with his bladder? If you believe that, too, well, I have just educated you. If you already knew that was a load of codswallop, then I would like to offer you a challenge opportunity to educate a fellow patriarch and report back to me how you explained it and if the patriarch was sufficiently enlightened. Shall we set a check-in time for you, of, say, Friday at noon? Excellent.”

      4. theletter*

        TBH, I’ve noticed that managers that do this manage this way because they don’t really have enough knowledge of what everyone does and how they work to effectively manage a corporate group.

      5. Smithy*

        OP – I assume that you really do know your boss best and that what he’s looking for is something more person and direct (i.e. I have a goal of running a marathon and here’s my workout calendar to get there).

        But where I work, those kinds of conversations really have been more tied to work/life balance. Actual examples have included “on average, I want to leave the office by 5:30pm 3 days a week” or ” based on my family’s needs – I want to work remotely for a week once a month as opposed to a more tradition WFH weekly schedule”.

        In the second example – it did involve sharing a bit of exactly why and going into details – but more pragmatically (i.e. what time zone would you be in? what would your hours be? any connectivity concerns?). But for the goal of leaving the office by 5:30, 3 days a week – that was just put in the context of better work/life balance.

        While I deeply understand how this can feel intrusive, in my workplace it really hasn’t felt like it.

        1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

          What you’re saying is what my husband is also saying to some degree. He says bosses want to know people have hobbies outside of work so they know you’re not just working (and prone to potential burn out). The issue is, having to report my personal stuff to my boss just takes the personal out of it and marries it to the workplace, which just makes it feel like more “work” I have to be accountable for.

          1. Smithy*

            Totally get that – and to be fair, when I told my boss that I was looking to leave the office at 5:30 three times a week on average – it wasn’t uploaded into Workday and then discussed quarterly.

            I would just posit that if you had a goal of “more work-life balance” and then included specific achievements like “leaving the office before X 3 days a week”, “leaving the laptop at home two weekends a month”, or “turning off work email notifications on my phone from Saturday night to Sunday night” – this gives you all the SMART style goals that technically are more associated to work – but rather when you’re not working. It may also be that I work at a place with a reputation for terrible work-life balance, and saying you have a goal of taking vacation time and not checking work email once would be a huge achievement.

            If personally this still feels like too much – I get it. But if your boss is relatively decent in other areas – this should allow you to tick the SMART goals boxes without sharing what you’re doing in your personal time.

          2. Paulina*

            It sounds like your boss has put “be supportive of their personal goals” into his management framework, which has morphed it into “hold them accountable for progress towards personal goals.” Which is a big Nope.

  6. It's Perks, Sir*

    And since Dan wants to support you so much, another option is making up something bland (hahaha, or not bland! Please report back on your boss’s response to your newfound facility with dark magic!) and then ask for extra paid time off to support those goals. Or more money to purchase essentials, like a pricey gym membership or a monthly supply of goat’s blood. Whatever you need! If Dan wants to support you, see how committed he is to doing so!

    1. Seeking Second Childhood*

      Serious: I like Alison’s idea of compromising on a work-related “personal” goal. If I were put in OP’s shoes, I’d suggest improving my presentations&public skills, with the immediate first goal of joining & attending Toastmaster’s. (I got hooked when they my office tried to form a chapter, but that effort collapsed under the weight of conflicting schedules.) And yes ….ask for the company to cover the membership fee.
      Humorous: “Dabbling in the dark arts” might mean going into HR because as Alison once pointed out “black magic is one of many occupational hazards…” so it’s good to start “reading up on counter-spells, potions, and hexes.”

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        I’ve been thinking I’d just say I’m watching two hours of career-enhancing webinars per week across marketing, SEO, content, and sales and leave it at that.

        1. 2 Cents*

          I’m an SEO and lemme tell you the minutiae you can report on in agonizing detail going forward. “Well, when I changed all the website page titles to start with gerunds, you can see our click through rate skyrocketed, except for our contact us page, so then I decided to run an a/b test on gerunds versus infinites in page titles and the results have been interesting…”

          1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

            Ha ha ha!! I’ve bored people to tears telling them about plural versus singular terms in search engines and how far down the funnel it means they are. To me, that’s the interesting stuff. That said, he’ll probably say it’s not personal enough.

        2. PhyllisB*

          That’s no fun!! Oh, that’s right; you don’t WANT it to be fun. You just want it to stop!!

    2. AKchic*

      “I’m going to need a stipend of $400 a month for ritual supplies to ensure that my copier works appropriately, but that all marketing deals continue to be beneficial for us. I refuse to go out of pocket for lamb’s blood to ensure the Henderson deal is successful.”

      1. One of the Spreadsheet Horde*

        “And can we consider a permanent space for the rituals for the office? The Spencer campaign is going to require a ton of candles and I’d prefer to not set off the fire alarms.”

        1. AKchic*

          “And we might want to get an extra fire extinguisher just as a precaution with all of those extra candles. Ounce of prevention and all that, right?”

    3. pamela voorhees*

      “Oh, my goal? I’d like for the detective to stop asking questions about the mysterious first death of my husband. He keeps poking around the garden, asking what I did to get my roses to bloom so red. Have you heard the legends about how roses bloom red with blood, Daniel? My roses are my pride and joy… I’d do anything for them, Daniel, but my, it’s so inconvenient when people ask too many questions, Daniel… oh, and yes, I’ll have the XYZ reports to you by the end of the day.”

      1. pamela voorhees*

        I meant to say “death of my first husband” but it accidentally became so much better with the implication that he’s died multiple times. I stand by what I said for maximum spook factor.

        1. AKchic*

          He had a minor recovery, but after that setback, we learned how to keep him properly dead and buried.

  7. Golden Oldie*

    I think my personal goals for this assignment would be to maintain my status quo in every area. Done.

    1. Amber Rose*

      I jokingly said last week that my New Year’s resolution was to keep doing exactly the same things as last year, and that I’d already made three bad financial decisions and stayed up too late every night, so I’m right on track.

      1. Quill*

        So far I’ve burnt more food items in 2020 than I did in 2019.

        (I think my oven thermometer may need attention…)

    2. fposte*

      Though now I want to make my personal goal slippage. “I met too many goals last year, so this year my goal is to attain less and fall short more.”

    3. PhyllisB*

      My personal goal right now is to not get thrown out of the public library I am reading this on. I’m dying, y’all.

  8. Sharkie*

    I vote for dabbling in the dark arts. But this is a gross overstep. You are under no obligation to share your goals if you don’t want to. It would be one thing if you were in a health-focused industry.
    Alison has good scripts here.

    1. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

      Even if they were in a health-focused industry it would be inappropriate. The ONLY time anyone’s personal choices should be questioned are if those choices are affecting the person’s ability to do their job. Otherwise it falls into the none of anyone’s business category.

      1. Sharkie*

        I don’t know why the sentence cut off. It should say “would be one thing if you were in a health-focused industry but it would still be gross”

  9. cheese please*

    UGH. Dan sounds a bit too much. Perhaps you can establish a boundary saying “I have plenty of personal goals I am working on outside of work. My husband and friends are great are supporting me with those areas. I think it’s best for me if in these meetings we focus on X and Y. I will let you know if any stress at work is interfering with my personal goals and we can work on making sure I have balance in my life.” Focus on his desire to support you and emphasize that the best support you can have for personal goals is good work life balance, and support at work so that your off-work time is less stressful.

    You could also say your personal goal is to help establish better boundaries with people and be mindful of what you share with others. Maybe he’ll get the hint.

    1. Llama Face!*

      “You could also say your personal goal is to help establish better boundaries with people and be mindful of what you share with others. Maybe he’ll get the hint.”
      I was about to reply this but I see you beat me to it! :)

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        I want to say, “I’m practicing the art of saying “no”. So No, you don’t get to know what my personal, private goals are. Whew, that was hard!”

  10. Amber Rose*

    After all, black magic IS an occupational hazard.

    But seriously, I think you could even say that you’re addressing personal health goals with your doctor and want to leave it with them. Maybe stating that you at least have those goals (whether you do or not) will help placate your weird, boundary invading boss.

    Otherwise, if you wanna go the bland route, look up one of those daily/weekly health goal calendar things and tell him you’re trying to get all the way through one of them. The one I found has things like “week one: drink water every day” and “week two: take five minutes to breathe every morning” and stuff like that.

    1. SarahKay*

      Personally I’m aiming for a full twelve hours of breathing every morning, but maybe I’m an overachiever? ;)

        1. SarahKay*

          Hmm, excellent point! Clearly, I’ve been looking at it all wrong, and that should be my personal goal for 2020 – reduce time spent breathing :D

      1. Gail Davidson-Durst*

        XD. I like 24 hours of breathing a day but I’m weird like that. Others may have to work up to that goal.

    2. PVR*

      If I wanted to be nice I’d say, “I so appreciate that you want to be involved and support my goals outside of work, but honestly, right now, I’m pretty content with my life the way it is and I have a great support system in place with my husband and friends so truthfully, I’m not sure what I have to share with you right now. I don’t want to undermine these conversations by making something up like better laundry management/raising goats/reading 5 min per day so instead I’d really like to focus on the following professional goals which I really do have, and which really, if you think about will only make me a better person in my personal life as well.” But in reality, I’d probably totally just make up something low stakes.

  11. The Smile on a Dog*

    Choose a musical instrument you’ve never played before, say you’re taking lessons (but don’t), then bring in the instrument for weekly audio updates on how much “better” you’re getting.

    I recommend bagpipes.

    1. Miss Mouse*

      I like this suggestion. Perhaps after bagpipes lessons peter out, you could take up the xylophone. Be sure to “share” those too.

      1. SheLooksFamiliar*

        Try to get someone to take up playing the banjo, and also the recorder. I think that’ll round out the Worst Office Band Ever.

        1. Mama Bear*

          You could be a band of the loudest, most obnoxious instruments known the world over.

          As an aside, I do like bagpipes, in moderation. When someone is playing music I don’t like, I put in something like The Rogues at full volume. If this happens in traffic, usually the offender rolls up their windows first because bagpipes cut through *everything*.

          1. Havarti*

            Someone once pointed out to me that bagpipes are more of an outdoor instrument. I currently have some songs by The Sidh on rotation in my commute music list and they are fun to blast, not gonna lie.

            1. LKW*

              Several years ago I’d be sitting in my office in New York City and I’d hear bagpipes. Eventually I figured out that a guy would go up to a public space, on the top of a smaller building (about 5-6 stories) across the street and play all of his favorites.

              Bagpipes cut through everything.

              1. whingedrinking*

                I remember reading somewhere that pretty much every herding culture in the world has at some point used some variation on the bagpipes. The reasoning is that herders both have the means to make them and the need, since they spend a lot of time away from other people and need to communicate at long distances. Also, some of them pretty much can’t be played in an enclosed space that’s too small or the echoes can deafen you.

                1. Alexandra Lynch*

                  They were also used, for that ability to cut through noise, to issue commands in battle.

            2. Auntie Social*

              Konmari. You can go into great yet impersonal detail about each drawer in the house. Closet debate—ironing vs. steaming. House all tidied? Share with him the agony of tidying up the tool bench—which method will you use? I am on tenterhooks—which I see my workbench doesn’t actually have.

              1. Alexandra Lynch*

                If I get into what I’m thinking of getting into, I’ll need tenterhooks. I already need a lazy kate. It would be cool, but I need another hobby that takes up a lot of space like a hole in the head.

          2. Pipe Organ Guy*

            The trompettes-en-chamade at Christ Cathedral in Garden Grove (formerly known as the Crystal Cathedral). No organist playing in recital there has ever been able to resist overusing the deafening things.

        2. Liane*

          Hey, don’t disrespect recorders! (That’s my instrument .)

          Now if you really want to torment people, the best instrument is a practice chanter for learning and practicing bagpipes–what it lacks in volume, it more than makes up in horribleness. It sounds like some screeching, dying mammal. And that’s when played by a very good piper. When played by a newb…oh I can’t bear to describe it.

          1. Meh*

            Dear lord. I just looked it up on a YouTube tutorial, and you’re right. Even when it’s played “well” it sounds awful. Haha.

          2. anonymous 5*

            totally OT but I saw a video of a masterclass by Albrecht Mayer (the principal oboist in the Berlin Phil) in which he gave–on his gorgeous oboe–a terrifyingly good impersonation of playing a chanter. He also accidentally referred to a chanter as being “bagpipes without the pipe” and, after catching himself, also gave his impersonation of what bagpipes without the pipes would sound like.

            I am now giggling uncontrollably and want to watch that video again.

            1. Elitist Semicolon*

              Oboe could also work as a weaponized instrument of played terribly. Especially if the reed is split.

          3. TardyTardis*

            Clarinet by a newbie can reach high notes hearable only by Vulcans. But, on the other hand, no ear wax!

        3. MeTwoToo*

          I’m envisioning several people playing loudly, out of tune, and not even the same tempo. Maybe concentrating hard on the sheet music even though everyone has a different song and no one can read sheet music.

          1. Glitsy Gus*

            I’m now picturing the scene in The Music Man where all the town children try play the song they have spent the last month “visualizing” but not in any way practicing at the big recital.

        4. BeckySuz*

          Oh yes. I can attest to the recorder being the single worst sound in the world. Definitely start having weekly concerts during your meetings with Dan OP

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        lol! “And this is Boston, Hooked on a Feeling….which isn’t to be confused with Kansas and Carry On my Wayward Son. Because that was last week. Next week I’ll be regaling you with Panic at the Disco’s I write sins not tragedies… which will sound nothing like Boston.”

    2. Perilous*

      I am intrigued by your ideas and would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

      Fiendishly delightful!

    3. Bluebell*

      I had a boss who had a Kalimba in their office. There were jokes about playing it, but no one ever did.

    4. Lynn*

      Good idea. Personally, nothing cuts through other noise quite like someone squeaking their way through the first time playing a reeded instrument (clarinet, sax, etc). That may just be because I remember some of the clankers I managed when I was learning back in elementary school-it still resonates, and this is decades after when, one would think anyway, the memories have softened.

      On the other hand, you could take up drumming. A practice pad would let you drum away all day until he gets so annoyed he quits asking you about it.

      1. Meepmeep*

        Oh yeah. The first couple of months of learning to play the clarinet for me were so horrible that I’m surprised the neighbors didn’t call the SPCA on me. I sounded like I was murdering a duck.

        1. Lynn*

          It was good that we lived out in a more rural area. And I am pretty sure I scared both the pets and the farm animals. My mom still winces if I bring it up. And it has been well over 40 years.

    5. Pipe Organ Guy*

      Trying to think of crazy, off-the-wall things in response to the bad boundaries:
      Arrange Wagner’s Ring (the whole thing) for clavichord.
      Build a pipe organ out of paper. (I saw something on YouTube once about just that.)
      Research recipes to make formerly-rejected vegetables palatable and/or undetectable.
      Invent a new absurdist religion.

    6. Can't Sit Still*

      Don’t forget the vuvuzela! It’s inexpensive and portable, the best bang for your buck! Triangle would be good, too.

    7. Yavie*

      I’m disappointed in the lack of didgeridoos in these comments! One of my good friends (and former roommates) plays the didgeridoo, and like the bagpipes it’s a lovely, haunting instrument that is very definitely meant to be played *outdoors*, and also amazingly awful when played badly.

      1. Matilda Jefferies*

        I once saw a subway busker playing the didgeridoo – about 50 feet away from another subway busker, playing an entirely different song on a set of steel drums. Combined with the already noisy environment of a busy subway station, the result was…memorable.

    8. Belle of the Midwest*

      If you really want to stretch this out though, start with a kazoo. Work your way up to a recorder, or if you can play basic piano, a melodica. Maybe the Melodica Men can inspire you (look them up on Youtube)

  12. Fabulous*

    Personal goal: Challenge overstepping bosses and busybodies to realize their boundary-crossing ways.

  13. theelephantintheroom*

    Insert gif of Morticia Addams saying, “I just wish I had more time to seek out the dark forces and join their hellish crusade.”

  14. Anonariffic*

    Definitely voting for taking up swinging and keeping an accountability spreadsheet that tracks all your new partners and ranks them by their performance. Dan is all about personal improvement!

    1. Michelle*

      OP could also include something about working her way through all the adult toys available at local adult store. He wants personal goals…

    2. Madtown Maven*

      Or swinging, as in on swings. Set goals to visit all public parks within a 10-mile radius, swing, and report on the quality of the swinging.

      1. Michelle*

        That would great if he misunderstood the first time she said swinging and then gets all confused when she reports the quality of the swinging.

        P.S. I’m laughing so hard at these suggestions (and trying to stifle it) that a few people have come over to make sure I’m ok.

      2. Jennifer Thneed*

        You joke, but I did this once, as a summer project. A local weekly had published a list of amenities at all public parks in the county, and I made it a point to visit each one as I was in its neighborhood, and try out the swings. (I like swings.)

  15. The Original K.*

    I read the title of this and said “Nope!” out loud. This blurring between the personal and professional irks me. Why can’t we just do our jobs, improve professionally, and go home?

      1. The Original K.*

        I’m all for a happy hour or holiday party or potluck or whatever – we’re not robots and some fun at work is cool. But this isn’t fun! This is just a giant overreach.

        1. Glitsy Gus*

          Yeah, I may even be OK really innocuous ones that are more about ensuring work life balance, like reading more books or leaving work on time to take a class, something like that, but that it the maximum. I can’t even get on board with the “Office wide step challenge!” nonsense my office has tried (via our health insurance, probably to get some kind of rate reduction). Stay out of my personal business, Boss Man!

  16. former favorite*

    you could tell him you’ve asked your religious deity of choice why he thinks this is appropriate but so far no dice, so you’ll keep praying on it?

    1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      ooh, how about random number generation of deities? With lots of totally fictional ones thrown in – D&D type gods?

      “and I rolled .. a 37! On the chart, that means it’s time to ask Cthulhu for help with understanding and global insanity. Fthagn!”

    2. I Wrote This in the Bathroom*

      “My deity spoke to me about this. My deity wants you to be removed, Dan. So sorry, but deity says it’s needed for the workplace to be peaceful.”

  17. Ruth (UK)*

    You shouldn’t -have- to play along but personally, I often choose the path of least resistance in these types of cases and in your situation, I would most likely just come up bland goals of things I know I’m going to achieve/do anyway.

    If you can in some way tie it into being linked to work in some way and less about your personal life, that might help. Like going for a walk at lunchtime, or trying to eat a healthy lunch each day at work (you don’t need to define what you class as ‘healthy’).

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      I’m thinking this is what I’ll likely do. He’s honestly a REALLY nice guy with some REALLY misguided ideas. And I don’t sense he’s used to getting pushback. And I push back a lot (on important work issues where I can see we can imporve). I just don’t want to “pushback” myself out of a job on something like this where he thinks he’s like male Oprah.

      1. AKchic*

        unless he’s handing out new cars, he’s definitely not a male Oprah. He’s just a busybody who thinks he has a right to know everything and hasn’t actually been taught/told that no, he doesn’t have that right, and that he’s actually being a paternalistic horse’s rear end.

      2. Cloudy with sunny breaks*

        If he’s doing this with everyone maybe each person can pick a different bland topic then rotate the topics through the group. Set up a pool on how long it takes him to notice the pattern and how long until he gives up on this. My suggestion: dental hygiene. Best type of toothbrushes, dental floss and mouthwash – vital to ones routine or cash grab – discuss.

      3. BlindChina*

        Good Attitude! just ride it out and roll your eyes. Assuming of coarse, that this is the only out of wack thing at work.

      4. vlookup*

        You could consider making your goals things that would improve work-life balance: leaving the office earlier, or not checking your email on the weekends, or taking more breaks during the day. If he’s so invested in your personal development, maybe you need more time outside the office to work out/spend with family/cook healthy meals/whatever?

      5. BerkeleyFarm*

        I am presuming he is white and I know he is an evangelical male who owns his own company … so no, he’s absolutely not used to getting anything resembling pushback as one of God’s anointed (seriously, this is how they culturally think, and anything less than DO WHAT I WANT is considered pushback). So this sounds like a good compromise that isn’t TOO personal and will keep him relatively happy.

        As an ex evangelical (currently still a Christian) I am giggling at the alternate religious suggestions but for the love of all that is holy, don’t do any of those, it will flip him out and there will be retribution.

  18. Nekussa*

    “My personal goal is to be better about keeping boundaries between my work life and my private life.”

    1. Wonderer*

      Actually, I really think you should suggest this one. Take a couple of weeks worth of making generic statements about how you’re “maximizing the value of your hours in the office”, or “making sure to take time out for yourself in the evenings” with a couple of concrete examples.
      Then, after about a month you can say “Hey, I just realized that one of the best ways to keep boundaries between work and home is to only focus on work objectives when I’m at work. How about we stop this now?”

      1. Parenthetically*

        I absolutely agree — someone like this guy, who probably really wants the best for OP, is going to be ALL OVER a goal like “prioritizing a healthy work-life balance.” It’s your perfect Trojan horse, OP!!

  19. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    If the company owner has enough time to do weekly one-on-ones with workplace goals AND personal goals, with all of his direct reports, what the heck does he actually **do**?

  20. Teapot Unionist*

    I would love some advice on how to help volunteers and employees make sure they are putting wellness high on their lists of priorities. My work centers on a field that is highly stressful, underpaid, poorly respected and has very high stakes attached to it–but I am not actually their boss, I assist with advocacy and support. In my personal time, I am the chair of a local political party. Both roles require a lot of blood, sweat and tears from folks in order to enact any real changes with extremely high stakes if we don’t succeed. There is a lot of burnout and mental and physical unwellness in both. How can I set a tone that taking care of ourselves is not only allowed, but should be our highest priority? Obviously, nosy questions and wellness goals is not the answer, but neither is sitting by silently, or just speaking about it with empty platitudes.

    1. Hornswoggler*

      I think this is a really good point, and maybe it would make a good topic for one of those ‘what do readers think?’ questions that Alison does from time to time.

    2. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      Do the things in within your control as a manager (or as the employer). Make sure your sick time policies don’t penalize people for using sick leave. Promote telework and flexible schedules where there isn’t a negative business impact. Explore optional group discounts for fitness/wellness classes and allow employees to opt in. Most importantly, Model a healthy work-life balance — if you aren’t working insane hours and encourage employees to adopt a reasonable schedule, they are more likely to.

      1. WantonSeedStitch*

        This, exactly. Do what you can to ensure that work allows for and supports self-care, rather than trying to encourage people to take care of themselves. Trying to urge people to take time to relax and do yoga won’t help if they are penalized for taking vacation days or sick days. When it comes to keeping a proper work/life balance, the onus should NOT be on the employees, but on the employer, to make it possible.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          THIS. In fact, the exhortations to “eat healthy” or “do yoga” or especially any sort of wellness program that puts pressure on people is *worse* than nothing if your PTO etc. aren’t great – it’s one more thing to stress over, and it’s patronizing, tone-deaf,
          hypocritical, and often downright offensive.

          1. Quill*

            Not to mention often exactly counter to medical science in the quest for one-size-fits-all wellness.

            There’s a reason doctors get licensed and don’t give out medical advice sight unseen. There is no solution that works for every body.

    3. Another Millenial*

      I don’t know if you do newsletters or anything, but my company’s ADP website has a Company News section in which there are tips for balancing work and personal, tips for avoiding the “holiday slumps,” etc etc. I usually find myself scrolling past it though.

      The thing is, if people don’t have PTO, if they don’t have support from their bosses for taking time off, then there’s not a lot you can do. I’ve been in jobs where I was penalized for using my PTO, and I’ve had jobs where my boss will literally send me home if she thinks I’m unwell. Wellness priority is often set and communicated by the employee’s manager.

    4. A Teacher*

      Don’t expect your employees to respond to any questions. What I do on my off time is my decision and not something I want to share with my coworkers unless I feel like sharing it.

    5. Dandelion*

      If it is valuable to the company ethically it should be valuable to the company monetarily. Promote telework. Give more flex time and sick days. Advocate for health plans with better mental health support and/or telemedicine that has mental health support. Support instead of question when employees take sick days. Pay a living wage. Most of it involves stepping aside and letting the adult employee make their own decisions around their health care, and involves promoting leaders who model the work/life balance you want to see employees emulate.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, totally agree. Make it happen via what work does, not by probing into people’s personal habits.

    6. Alex*

      I think the answer is as an employer, the best thing you can do is create a work environment that doesn’t require people to burn themselves out.

      Check in on workloads and hire accordingly. Manage out poor performers. Have plans in place for coverage for sick days and vacation days so that you don’t need people to be “on” during that time. Treat people like humans with lives.

      You can’t both have an environment that requires blood, sweat, and tears, and then put it on employees to push back on that by “putting their own well being first.” You’ll be viewed as hypocritical or unrealistic at best.

      1. Sunflower Sea Star*

        Right?
        GIVE US YOUR ALL, WORK LONG HOURS OF BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS
        But take care of yourself so you can
        GIVE US YOUR ALL, WORK LONG HOURS OF BLOOD SWEAT AND TEARS
        Just do that self care on your own time, K?

        Questions like this are SO hypocritical.

        1. EH*

          Yep. Folks have had decent suggestions above, but really the way to help people stay healthy and happy is to not demand they burn themselves out.

    7. Observer*

      The question you need to answer first is what would you change if you WERE these people’s boss? What would you do to reduce the amount of o”blood, sweat and tears”, improve conditions and pay, and enable people to take good care of themselves. Unless you have a clear vision of what should be done, anything you SAY to “set a tone” is going to set a very different tone than the one you say you want to set.

      Clearly and openly advocate for the things on your list that you have the ability to advocate for. And make sure that people know about YOUR self care. Don’t tell them about all the blood, sweat and tears that you are putting in. But do let them know that you are taking care of yourself and advocate for their ability to do the same.

      Do be careful – you need to be sensitive about how you do this. Telling people who don’t get PTO that it’s FINE to take off time to take care of themselves is not going to go over very well. Talking about a trip to Europe to people who are making minimum wage is going to come off at best as tone deaf. Etc.

    8. Ruby*

      AAM has a column for this too, search “8 ways to promote employee wellness that would actually work”

    9. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

      On the political side, remind them that you’re in this for the long haul, and that it’s better for everyone if they give a third of what they can for the entire year, or maybe decade, than if they give 110% for two months and burn out.

      And then start telling volunteers “thanks, you did a great job last month, take a break for three weeks so you’ll have some energy in March. We don’t want your family to start thinking of the party as the reason they never see you.”

    10. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      Be aware of differences. Let people modify their daily tasks, within reason of course so stuff gets DONE, but – like, if someone is a fidgeter, let them knit during meetings instead of “sitting still”. Make sure people can actually TAKE their lunch, their breaks, etc – that there’s not such an assumption of /being there/ that taking ten minutes to go for a walk is somehow /weird/. Don’t get weird about people who listen by staring off to the side.

      Some places are better about that than others, and of course, it matters that the work gets done. But those little breaks and the allowances that people are /people/ can go a LONG way.

  21. ThisColumnMakesMeGratefulForMyBoss*

    Learn this mantra and repeat as necessary…”Just because someone means well/has good intentions does NOT mean what they are saying/doing/asking is appropriate or okay”.

    I do not support making up something bland to report to Dan. This will lead to more questions and you having to remember white lies to stay true to what you’re reporting. He is crossing boundaries and needs to be stopped. I think Option number 1 is the only way to go – repeat as many times as needed.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      I agree. I really hate to lie, and especially when I oppose what he’s asking. Two wrongs and all that.

      1. Glitsy Gus*

        Yeah, if you do go the bland route, make it something you are actually doing (even though the suggestions from the others are really fun), basically what you already are telling him about the home improvement, etc.

        I do think you can open the door with what someone else suggested of having these bland goals lead into “I really think the best goal for me right now is to really set better boundaries between my work and home lives. I’ve noticed lately that having these goals be part of our check-ins has really blurred that line for me and it is not all that great for my headspace. So, I do think it’s best that we modify this goal to be that I make sure I’m really switching gears when I’m here and leaving my home life at home.” Something like that still gives a goal, but the goal is to maintain the boundary. It also sounds slightly more in the spirit of the request rather than, ‘I don’t wanna do this.’

  22. AppleStan*

    I think alison’s suggestions are quite strong, and I’d start with those.

    If you feel like “playing along” with Dan (and by feel like, I mean, you think it’s best for your continued employment) I strongly suggest that you go the laundry routine! That one is golden, and I will be stealing it.

    I don’t know how seriously you take this or not, but I’d steer away from the “swinger” lifestyle – I’d be too terrified that Dan is into that sort of thing and will ask to join you or recommend you to his club!!!! :-)

  23. User 483*

    How about you have your goal be something about sharing less of your personal life with people outside your immediate family?

    1. Auntie Social*

      My MIL blabbed anything that was at all personal. I limited topics to the dogs and buying drapes.

  24. Lynca*

    I’d be very concerned if a boss wanted to have an accountability tracking spreadsheet on anything in my personal life. I’d push back hard because of my own situation. I have ADHD and it can be a struggle to progress on any personal goals I have. It’s hard enough to fail at a goal on your own- but to have the boss find out? And to want to weigh in with support you don’t want? That’s just way too much.

    1. Bostonian*

      The spirituality part is particularly concerning! Keeping tabs on how many times your employee goes to church on Sunday/Saturday sounds like an HR nightmare waiting to happen!

  25. Not my monkeys, not my circus*

    Your personal goal should be “I am trying to establish healthier boundaries between my personal and professional life”.

  26. Detective Amy Santiago*

    Damn it, Alison. I had my one on one two hours ago and my supervisor asked me what my goals were for 2020. I wish I’d read this before then.

  27. EmKay*

    CATS. Cats, cats, cats. Make everything about cats, even the work stuff. Really lean into the Crazy Cat Lady persona.

    Mondays: support group for Mittens, who has separation anxiety vis-à-vis the humans of the house
    Tuesdays: support group for Miss Kitty, who has separation anxiety vis-à-vis Mittens, so Monday evenings are very difficult
    Wednesdays: raw keto macro diet for felines
    Thursdays: play date with Socks (and his mom Stacy)
    etc etc

    1. Threeve*

      My goal is to learn a new cat fact every day. Today’s cat fact: did you know only about 50% of cats have any kind of reaction to catnip? I will have seven new cat facts to share at our meeting next week.

    2. Three owls in a trench coat*

      May I recommend keeping a copy of “Crafting with cat hair,” an entirely real book, on hand to back up said Crazy Cat Lady goals?

        1. Sunflower Sea Star*

          Oh it is! Several years ago I found a library copy of it, along with a ziplock baggie of brushed cat hair, under my 11 yo’s bed! Contemplated throwing out the cat hair bag, ultimately decided to leave it, thinking if this was what my kid was hiding from me, I am okay with it.
          Nothing ever came of it other than a small library fine, though.

        2. SarahKay*

          I just looked it up on Amazon. It’s a real thing, and it has many, many cute pictures of cats. I love cats but sadly I’m allergic to them, so sadly this book would never be useful to me…. and I’m still tempted to buy it.

    3. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      YES. Due to some, uh, unfortunate events while we had holiday guests, I am learning how to DIY a sanitary trim on my cat.

      He can have ALL the details on that.

      1. EmKay*

        Great idea – let’s integrate it! OP can tell boss all about the struggle to find a movie theatre that accepts cats, because Mittens and Miss Kitty deserve to experience it on the big screen.

    4. Pipe Organ Guy*

      I keep offering organ lessons to one of our cats, because she just loves to sit on the bench with me while I practice, but she hasn’t taken me up on the offer.

  28. Another Millenial*

    I can’t help but notice that all these suggested goals, aside from spirituality, focus on your BODY. Has this guy made any other comments or subtle suggestions about yours or anybody else’s body? Because this is gross, and borders on misogyny.

    1. Daniel*

      Could be! But I don’t know if I would pin it on this guy in particular; I took it more as a result of society’s focus on weight and appearance.

      Aggh, people.

      1. Allypopx*

        And the fact that “goals” (especially this time of year) tend to focus in that area, specifically if he’s a sort of crunchy mind-body balance type or a fitness nut, either of which seem plausible from the letter.

    2. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

      I think this is an important question. Is this just the “new year, new you” narrative, or is Dan overly concerned with your weight/body/appearance to the point that you need to modify Alison’s script to explicitly say that you don’t want to talk about your personal life or your body at work.

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, that stood out to me too. It feels a lot like the “women’s* bodies exist for the benefit of society and therefore we all get to have input or monitor how they’re maintained” mindset.

      *acknowledging that OP doesn’t specifically state they are female, but the mention of a husband means it’s more likely than not.

    4. Mockingjay*

      I wonder if Dan has adopted some sort of positive wellness focus for himself for the new year and he’s really enthusiastic about it and wants to share.

      Not that enthusiasm excuses boundary crossing, because forcing subordinates to participate in your life-changing experience is going to result in the opposite outcome Dan hopes for…

    5. Quill*

      Given how much the mandatory new Year’s resolution tends to focus on body aesthetics in the guise of wellness, and how disproportionately that focuses on women… I’d say it’s societal misogyny rather than just Dan.

    6. Oranges*

      Seeing that the OP posted that her boss is in a staunchly patriarchal religion and all his underlings are female. This isn’t the stretch that it would be otherwise.

    7. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      I’m very overweight, so I wonder if this might be a misguided effort to push me to lose weight. Heaven forbid I just won’t be cute or passive enough for the team.

      1. The Fat Friend*

        Oof. Yeah, that context changes my read. I’d bet that’s exactly what he’s trying to do. Ugh.

        Gross, Dan, gross.

      2. SongbirdT*

        I, too, am a rotund woman and if a boss asked me for fitness / health / diet goals, they’d be something along these lines:

        Fitness – Fittin’ ‘is whole burrito in my mouth Achievement: 20%
        Health – Watching at least 4 hours of television / movies per day for mental health
        Diet – Continue to sample new cheeses to find out which ones settle best with my digestive system.

      3. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Okay, that makes it so much more gross :/

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this.

      4. Don't Send Your Kids to Hudson University*

        That makes this whole thing A LOT more icky, and I’m so sorry you’re in this position.

        If you’re going to opt into Alison’s more direct approach, I would think about ways you might say explicitly “I’m not comfortable talking about my body at work.” You shouldn’t have to, but if Dan is truly well-meaning, hearing that feedback might snap him back to reality.

        It sounds like your boss is trying to push you into choices he thinks are better for you, and in your shoes I would be completely outraged.

        Good Luck!

      5. Another Millenial*

        Do you have HR? I noticed you mentioned that ALL his direct reports are female. This also indicates bias.

      6. Third or Nothing!*

        UGH. OK I don’t know if you happen to be into exercise or not, but honestly it is deeply satisfying to subvert expectations of what larger peeps can do in the fitness realm. Personally if I were in this situation I’d be really tempted to write “increase deadlift by at least 5 lbs per month” and “PR next half marathon.” Bet he’d be really thrown off by the deadlift goal (I am a very short woman and have a pretty high BMI so I don’t look fit). Extra bonus is that I could go into excruciating detail about all the things that can go into weightlifting once you get beyond the basics. MWAHAHAHAHAHA

        Ties in nicely with “smash the patriarchy” I think. ;)

      7. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        do you have a “feminine” hobby that can be subverted for the task?

        to use myself, I knit. A lot, obsessively, etc. I could wax lyrical for HOURS about the mental health benefits of knitting, talk about all kinds of ways in which it can help someone, and basically be the most obnoxious evangelizer ever, with yarn as my religion. (and have .. sorry!)

        but it falls into the category of “safely femme” and no one looks twice.

        Heck, you could even discuss the history of “femme work” and spying – there’s all kinds of interesting stuff there! Discuss how your spirituality calls you to subvert feminine roles with social justice ……

        and more seriously, good luck just getting through this. UGH.

        1. learnedthehardway*

          Another knitter here – the whole science of fibre, spinning, and dyeing can get really, really detailed and complicated…. and that’s even before the knitting starts. If I were in the OP’s shoes, I would absolutely be talking about my personal growth / development in terms of what I’m learning about my hobby.

      8. Matilda Jefferies*

        In that case, I would go straight to dismantling the patriarchy. Ugh.

        But seriously, from reading your comments on this thread, I think you have a really good handle on it. You know it’s inappropriate, and you seem pretty clear on where you’re going to draw the line between going along with it and pushing back. Plus, you have a sense of humour about it, and you now have a whole pile of fantasy responses to keep yourself amused. I think you’ll be fine!

      9. emmelemm*

        Everything about this just gets worse and worse. No, boss, you don’t get to police what I eat or what I do, NO MATTER WHAT.

      10. Curmudgeon in California*

        Ugh. Just ugh!

        I took a “wellness” class in college. I’ve been fat since puberty. As part of the class, each of us had to do a “wellness goal” thing for a month. The instructor was really pushing me to to do a diet. I refused. My month-long project was keeping a daily journal with moods. They were unhappy, I didn’t give a ****.

        Start a blog, or a paper journal, use it to keep track of your house/financial/home decor projects. (A friend of mine blogs her home improvement projects on Facebook.)

  29. Sabina*

    Convert to Zen Buddhism and tell Mr. Nosey your personal spiritual goal is to achieve perfect goalessnes.

  30. Daniel*

    Noooo, don’t give this guy my name!

    I’m a fan of just being as bland as possible, but I don’t know if the boss would be willing to back off if the OP pushed back. I kinda think he would, and that would be the best way to go if so, but I’m not in a position to say for sure.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      Aw, sorry! My goal this week will be doing the apology tour to all cool people named Daniel.

      1. Elitist Semicolon*

        Oh! Oh! You could combine the apology tour with the blandness approach and set as your goal learning more about prominent people named “Daniel.” Then set the result to a catchy tune, à la The Kids in the Hall and “These Are the Daves I Know.”

  31. Later Dan*

    Dan wants to help you. How nice for Dan, the concern troll in training. Honestly, I want to tell you to leave this job, because I don’t see this ending well.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      I’m looking for other work, but then I tell myself that this is very a good remote role…save for the weird stuff… I am doing my best to ignore the orange-red flags and to stay true to who I am as a professional and as a person (while not losing my job).

      1. Jules the 3rd*

        I’m glad you’re aware of the flags. This guy is giving me the heebee jeebies big time.

      2. Later Dan*

        I think as long as your eyes are open and you can avoid getting sucked in to the drama that will inevitably happen, you’ll do fine. I wish you lots of luck and an even better remote role in the future sans weirdos.

  32. Allypopx*

    I had a boss who A) would have absolutely done this if he had thought of it and B) would have loved all of the not-bland suggestions and it would have made him 10x more obnoxious about this so…proceed with caution.

  33. Hey Karma, Over Here*

    I think you can make an attempt to have an open conversation with Dan. Ask him what his plan is.
    Something like, “Dan, I want to get on the same page with you about this. If you can explain to me what your goal is for coaching me, I will better be able to think of things to work on. Are you looking at me to move up in the department or company? Are you looking at me to learn a new skill set for an area the company is moving into?
    If he can’t/won’t explain, or let’s it out that this is his personal goal, then you need to think about your position.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      I pushed back and he said he’d like to be able to support his team by sending them to training and whatnot. I can get my own training, so…

      1. Hey Karma, Over Here*

        Good on you! Call him on it. Find some week long training, or some online thing and ask him to foot the bill!

      2. AKchic*

        What kind of professional training is available to you that focuses on your body and spirit?

        I’ve been reading your comments, and I think that maybe your boss isn’t as good a guy as you want to believe. He’s good at projecting the Nice Guy image, but ultimately, he’s not one. He may not realize he’s doing it, because it can be subtle and insidious, but he has really blurred the lines between what is and isn’t appropriate under his purview.
        You’re already concerned about continually pushing back, but if you have to push back so often, maybe it’s because he’s so used to being the Nice Guy and running roughshod over everyone else that he really does need that reality check. If there is anyone in upper management that can give him that reality check, it’s more than time for that person (or those people) to do so.

      3. CanCan*

        Well, if that’s objective, then set the goal of learning a new skill – musical instrument, pottery, chess, a sport, etc. and ask that he pay for lessons.

    1. Decima Dewey*

      “My goal is to write a roman a clef about a dysfunctional workplace. With names changed, of course. What is your middle name anyway?”

      “My goal is to discover/create a new element. Do we have any plutonium lying around?”

      “I want to play every oratorio Handel ever wrote on the kazoo.”

  34. Miss Mouse*

    I once had a grandboss that was forced to meet with us, and she was presented with a set series of questions she had to ask, one of which was about your personal life. Neither of us wanted to make chit-chat with each other, so I answered her “What are you reading right now?” with a truthful “”David Hockney’s Secret Knowledge: Rediscovering the Lost Techniques of the Old Masters’, and when I finish it, I’m reading a book on the history of concrete!” She never asked me that question again.

    1. ECHM*

      My favorite of the “101 Ways to Say No”: “I’ve picked up a book called ‘Glue in Many Lands,’ and I can’t put it down!”

    2. Oh No She Di'int*

      Ugh. As a manager of people, I am always surprised and shocked when bosses want to know about their employees’ personal lives. I am of the “I. Do. Not. Want. To. Know.” school of thought.

    3. Notinstafamous*

      Um, was it an interesting book on the history of concrete? Do you remember the title? Because that sounds fascinating to me. I love obsessive one-topic nonfiction books.

      1. Miss Mouse*

        It wasn’t too fascinating, if I recall. The title is “Concrete: History and Account” by Per Jahren. But if you want an AMAZING one-topic nonfiction book, read “Cod” by Mark Kurlansky. He’s also written books on salt, paper, and oysters, but I think his book on cod is superlative. I was once at a dinner party where every single person around the table was discussing it.

      2. Phoenix from the ashes*

        It’s a rather pricey book, but Volcanoes by Francis and Oppenheimer is amazing!

    4. FoxyDog*

      At various times when asked what I was reading, the truthful answers have been:

      – (nonfiction) book about a guy who got shipwrecked on an island and eaten by cannibals

      – book about bears attacking people in Yellowstone National Park

      – Stiff: The Curious Lives Of Human Cadavers

      My coworkers don’t ask what I’m reading anymore.

    5. PhyllisB*

      I actually read a book on how time zones were implemented. It wasn’t as boring as it sounds; but when I was reading in public and got asked what I was reading, I got a lot of strange looks and NO follow-up questions!!

  35. Jellybean*

    Dan is the kind of manager that would ask an interviewee “What kind of animal would you be, and why?” or add a few extra meetings each week to “foster teamwork”. In other words, Dan needs to read askamanger.org!

    1. Triple-M*

      OMW. Back in the days of yore (I was 23), I had a third-round interview with the division’s head of IT (it was for a software development job) and the local head of HR for a multinational company.

      I got asked the “What kind of animal would you be, and why?” question; apparently “I would be a progammersaurus” is not the correct answer.

  36. agnes*

    This is so out of line, but so typical of active business owners who think they are in control of every part of their employees’ lives. I wish they would learn that all we want is for them to pay us fairly, not work us to death, and address workplace issues quickly and fairly so the workplace doesn’t become a toxic environment. Some thank yous for a job well done wouldn’t hurt either.

    1. Oh No She Di'int*

      I agree, although if I were to describe it, I’d perhaps frame it maybe just a bit differently based on the business owners I’ve known: Sometimes it’s not that they “think they are in control of every part of their employees’ lives,” but rather that they don’t realize there is a radical disconnect between how they are viewing the workplace and how their employees view it.

      Often the business is their baby, their legacy, their life. That’s not meant in a judgy way. Everyone strives to have some sort of legacy or passion project. For them, it’s their business. Therefore for them there’s a very personal connection to the business and everything in it. They sometimes cannot see that not everyone has that same personal connection. Employees are generally looking for the things you mention. So obviously, there’s little desire to get so personal on most employees’ part.

      I agree with the conflict you’re pointing out. I just think that sometimes it’s not all motivated out of a nefarious desire to “control”.

      The firing squad may now open fire.

      1. Amy Sly*

        Yeah, I find myself applying Hanlon’s razor to a lot of these bad bosses. Now, as noted above, just because someone means well doesn’t mean that they’re not inappropriate and shouldn’t get shut down, but yeah … my experience has been that there are a lot more awkward/ socially inept folks than deliberate jerks and domineering tin gods. Of course, the only real difference in how you deal with them is how you whack them with a clue-by-four.

  37. Amethystmoon*

    To me, it’s inappropriate and might lead to discrimination, even unconsciously, against people who don’t always meet their goals, or who don’t want to diet because dieting makes them depressed and anxious, or simply don’t want to disclose private medical information to their manager. People shouldn’t have to disclose that kind of stuff. I understand that you have to probably put it in for the work health insurance, but you shouldn’t have to tell your boss things like how much weight you want to lose. What if someone is just trying to accept themselves for the way they are and don’t want to change anything? Are they not allowed to do that?

    1. employers and health*

      +1. dan himself sounds likely well-meaning, but agree on the misguidedness of the attempt here. i’ve seen what you’re talking about happen before- well-meaning hr/managers trying to bring in a health program but not really being prepared to be inclusive (including no penalties for optout).

  38. AdAgencyChick*

    Step 1: Collect underpants
    Step 2: ?????
    Step 3: Profit!

    Seriously….whyyyyyyyyyyyy are bosses?! Good luck, OP!

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Possibilities:
      * Study the history of underwear.
      * Learn to sew underwear
      * Collect exotic underwear
      * Learn how to repurpose/upcycle used underwear
      * Learn about the Japanese obsession with used girl’s underwear (vending machines?!?!?)

      The whole thing is just pants…

  39. lilsheba*

    “* Or you could go with not bland at all! You’re dabbling in the dark arts, or having more sex with your husband — or not with your husband — or working to dismantle the patriarchy.”

    THIS!!! I would so do this!! He would deserve it.

    1. Merci Dee*

      “I’m dabbling in the Dark Arts. I’m hoping to get in touch with Death Eaters International to set up a local chapter so that we can start work to bring down MACUSA.”

      Heh. I’m expecting a few agents from the Department of Magical Enforcement to show up at my desk momentarily to ask me some questions . . . .

  40. I hate the off-season.*

    I’d be blunt, but that’s my style. Maybe my goal should be to try to be less blunt with people who annoy me. I have little filter. Unfortunately, I have a new boss (she’s been here all of 10 days). She likes to share. A lot. She is a “feelings” person. I am not. Especially not at work. She invited me to a “girls’ night out” at her house on a Saturday. She actually closed the door to invite me b/c she didn’t want the men to hear about it. I declined. I was going to be out of town in any event, so it was easy. The whole concept of a special time with the boss that did not include the entire office completely rubs me the wrong way. I’ve already told her my goal is to retire in early 2022 when I’m eligible (our first meeting), so my “personal” goal at this point, if she asks, would be managing my retirement accounts so I can actually meet my retirement goal.

    1. Faith*

      Good on you for avoiding that–not to mention, excluding all the men in the office is also not a great look for a new boss. If it comes up again, you could point that out as perhaps another way to get out of it if you don’t have a schedule conflict like you did this time.

  41. Quill*

    My goal is to decrease the number of times overreach like this makes me unhinge my jaw and scream every month, Dan.

  42. Jessica Fletcher*

    I wonder if he feels like he can’t manage you because you’re such a high performer, so he’s grasping at straws trying to find something. What a weird suggestion!

  43. East of Nowhere South of Lost*

    I would start explaining in detail the mechanics of running a table-top RPG game, including spellcasting rules and the weirdest character class bonus points.

    1. Quill*

      “My current goal is to have my anthropomorphic preying mantis player character free the temple from demons and eat their heads, but the DM’s been busy, so we’ve had shorter play sessions.”

    2. Curmudgeon in California*

      “I want to learn and playtest a new RPG system this year. Should I go with the Hero System or Gurps??”

      Cue eyes glazing over. If not, you may get a new gaming group member.

      1. Quill*

        *Shudders at the mere mention of GURPS, though it’s not the system’s fault the only game I ever played in it went off the rails instantly due to me being the only girl and the DM’s pick of dudes to play with resulted in the phrase “roll for venereal disease”*

        1. Curmudgeon in California*

          Oooof! “Roll for VD” is not something I would want to hear unless I was playing with friends who all have a raunchy sense of humor….

  44. Paper Jam*

    “My honest personal lifestyle goal is to be better at drawing boundaries between my work life and personal life, which will overall improve my focus at work, as well as my presence and mental health at home. I really appreciate your offer to support my personal goals – the best thing for that would be to stick to work topics during our meeting so I can better draw that boundary. Thanks for understanding!”

    I think if it were me, I’d actually do that…..

  45. SomebodyElse*

    I do love some of these suggestions, but to offer a piece of advice to the OP.

    This is one of those classic places where you can establish your boundaries on very firm footing.

    “Dan, I know you mean well, but I prefer to maintain a firm line of separation between my personal and professional life. I understand that they will cross at times, but this isn’t going to be one of them. I’d like to focus on my professional development goals during this time”

    Then just don’t entertain any more discussion about it. This is one of those things that normal people won’t push on. It’s likely to be uncomfortable, but that’s ok. This is a great time to establish things you will or won’t do in you professional life and it really does get easier.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      He is very religious and is pretty set in his ways, so I have a feeling that if any of his reports (all female) steps out of line, they could be ousted. I probably need to start looking for another role, but I’ve liked working from home, so I try not to make too many waves. I’m just incredibly annoyed that he doesn’t see this as overstepping.

      1. Oranges*

        Well, it IS annoying that he’s trying to… become your boss in your personal life. I’m gonna go out on a very short limb and say that his philosophy/religion says that women need constant guidance from males. Ugh.

        1. Zelda*

          But OP mentions a husband– the religions that say that generally also say the *husband* has authority over a wife’s life, not that she should be obeying any random man who happens along. So by his own lights, Dan is encroaching here.

          Rallying Dan’s other reports to work together to Make This Stop would be great. But if OP isn’t up for the big stand for principles, but rather wants the “get through this mess quietly and with employment intact” option, which is understandable, making Husband the shield is an option. “My husband said I can’t talk to other men about my personal life” *should* be instantly comprehensible to Dan. (Then OP must make sure Husband is never in a position to deny having said that.)

          1. Jackalope*

            Husband wouldn’t even need to be in a position to have to lie about it. He could totally say that to OP (with of course his fingers crossed, or making the comment that this only applies to Dan, or what have you, and both of them knowing he doesn’t actually care) and then the OP can truthfully say her husband told her this. And I’m sure that her husband would back her up on this on the fly anyway since he knows OP’s feelings about Dan’s request.

      2. Mockingjay*

        You could always throw his religious stance back at him: “Dan, this is really nice of you to want to mentor me on personal goals, but that’s my husband’s role.” *said sweetly simpering.

      3. Observer*

        I think you probably should start looking. The good thing is that you do have a job so you’re not desperate for just anything and can look for a job that gives you work from home ability.

  46. SaffyTaffy*

    Is it my confirmation bias, or does it seem like, across lots of advice columns, women write in saying “this is a problem with a 3rd party, but my husband says I should just do it”?

    1. Allypopx*

      I think there’s a general trend of women being told they’re making too big a deal out of things, historically.

      “Being hysterical” and such.

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        My husband claims managers these days are trying to also be life coaches. I told him if I needed a life coach, I’d hire one, not report to one.

        1. CanCan*

          Choose a generic-sounding goal, like “get my life organized”, with step one being to hire a life coach. Report that you have hired a life coach, and that his advice is that the next steps should be confidential. On next reports, say: “Follow plan for week 1 (2, etc.) in plan recommended by life coach.”

        2. Belle of the Midwest*

          I know of managers being taught pieces of coaching theory to help their staff move ahead on PROFESSIONAL or PERFORMANCE goals, but it is an absolute violation of the International Coach Federation’s Code of Ethics to try to force a coaching relationship on someone who is down the corporate ladder from you.

    2. Amy Sly*

      Eh, bear in mind that women are on the whole a lot more likely to write to advice columnists. (I don’t have the time to survey the archives here, but that’s certainly been my impression for every advice column I’ve come across that was not specifically related to a male-dominated hobby, e.g. tech support or fishing.) To that, add that griping to one’s spouse about work drama is more of a female behavior than a male, not to mention that men are acculturated to deal with things that make them uncomfortable in the moment instead of stewing on the issue afterwards. All that makes for a pattern in which a woman is more likely to not act until she’s consulted others, while the men she complains to react on an unspoken axiom that if it was really so bad, she would have pushed back in the moment.

      Frankly, I tend to think the guys might have a point about preferring immediate feedback. As anyone who’s used operant conditioning will tell you, punishing bad behavior at the moment it happens is more effective than waiting. Granted, in a work setting pushing up a power differential, sometimes you just can’t respond professionally in the moment.

  47. WellRed*

    The sad part is not that Dan is doing this, it’s that this is not the first letter we’ve had about this sort of thing.

  48. OP with Snoopy Boss*

    Thank you, Alison! Than you AAM fam!

    I have been SO annoyed with this situation, so it means a lot to me to see I haven’t been totally off-base. In the scheme of things, when my boss’ most important tenet is to have a VERY successful website that I’m busy helming, asking all of his reports (all female employees) to come at him with our personal goals feels a bit debasing.

    I’ve been tempted to say that “I’m trying to swear less, but it isn’t “f&^#$%ng working,” but I’ll likely go with the more vanilla goal of doing three crossword puzzles a week to unwind. I’ll regale how much I struggled with the clue at three across until “goat sacrifice” fell into place.

    You all gave me the best chuckle this morning, and for this, I will smile every single time I have to report this week’s goals!

    1. Allypopx*

      Are your coworkers having similar frustrations to you? This might be a great “push back as a group” scenario, honestly.

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        My coworkers are all members of patriarchal religions, so… No. I’m getting pushback that it’s just me.

        1. Allypopx*

          Sounding more and more like the plot to a horror movie…

          “My husband and I would like to keep our personal life planning within the household” could work but ick.

      1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

        I was joking with my husband about this the other day. He thinks it’s brilliant. I do tend to swear a lot in my life. The other day I was playing a game and was like, “Well sh$%balls!… Sorry, grandma.”

      2. Curmudgeon in California*

        Actually, I have that as an unwritten goal at work.

        People really get bent out of shape here about an AFAB person swearing, but guys get away with it. Pisses me off, but unless I want to go 100% male, I have to put up with it.

    2. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      In my day life, I am actually a religious … leader? Elder? Whatever kind of title means “allowed to give people spiritual advice” that you want to use.

      As such, I hereby declare that as a random religious leader, you may if you wish say that you have been given a list of goals.

      Goals: Be Your Awesome Self. Rock it.

      there! use freely. :D

    3. Dr. Anonymous*

      You could also fall back on the patriarchy and say that your husband thinks it’s inappropriate for to to be talking to your boss about your body, if it’s that kind of workplace.

  49. Angwyshaunce*

    Make your personal improvement plan to be a fierce advocate for personal privacy. Then, in order to comply, you would have to not comply.

  50. Shadowbelle*

    “Dan wants personal improvement goals along the lines of health, diet, spirituality, or fitness.”

    Can we not say to Dan, “I am practically perfect in every way, and if I strove to improve, it would make my teammates look bad”?

    I’d ask Dan how he plans to support my personal improvement goals. Is he going to give me more time off to follow my bliss? More money so I can afford a personal trainer? What?

    As for malicious compliance, I kinda like the line from the bumper sticker: “Sorry I missed church. I was too busy practicing witchcraft and becoming a lesbian.”

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      LOL! That bumper sticker is everything. I need to wear that on a T-shirt to my next video call.

      1. Shadowbelle*

        You can get it from Northern Sun. They also have things like “Ask your doctor if medical advice from a television commercial is right for you.”

      2. Boo Radley*

        All the snarky responses sound fun, but it may just be better to ask for clarification.
        “Dan, I’m having trouble coming up with personal and spiritual goals appropriate for us to talk about at the office, can you help me make sense of what you’re looking for here?”
        He’ll probably say something vague, or give examples. In response you can let him know how you’ve got it covered, your particular discomfort in that domain, or how the topic is inappropriate for work.
        The problem you’re going to run into with Allison’s response or with malicious compliance is he believes this over-reach *is* being a good manager. You can’t just refuse to comply or be obstructive, because he wouldn’t be doing this if he didn’t believe it to be Especially Important. Like any other “important” change initiative, pushback has the hazard of being met with either re-doubled effort or marking you particularly as difficult. If you force him to articulate out loud why he in particular needs to know about these private parts of your life, it will become obvious how over-broad his inquiry is. Generous explanations: maybe he wants you to feel comfortable bringing ‘your whole self to work.’ Maybe he believes ensuring his direct reports have concrete goals in their personal lives will make sure that work’s concrete deliverables won’t overwhelm them. Maybe he read an article on LinkedIn, or FastCompany or Inc. got excited, but didn’t really think it through. There are many reasons for him to be doing this besides just being “snoopy.” There is no question he is going about it in an ineffective and annoying way, but it will likely be more effective and permanent to address those underlying reasons.

        1. Shadowbelle*

          I agree Dan needs to be pinned down on what he is expecting. Also on how he expects to “support” the OP. And what sort of personal details he expects the OP to share. And so forth.

  51. Essess*

    Let him know that demanding that you share info about your health/wellness/spirituality would be skirting along the laws against harassment/discrimination for religion/disability and it would be safer for the company to avoid any involvement of those topics in the workplace.

    1. Shadowbelle*

      Actually, from a purely practical perspective, my reactions were in this order:
      1. Ew, mind your own business!
      2. Um, EEOC, not legal much?
      3. Dan got no qualifications.

    2. Jules the 3rd*

      I wish OP could say this, but I suspect, from her comments, that ‘hey, this might not be legal because it touches on protected characteristics like religion’ would be seen as a threat and she’d get fired.

      Bland is best…

      1. Shadowbelle*

        Firing the OP for such a reason would of course be illegal, but that probably wouldn’t stop Dan from firing her.

  52. Heidi*

    I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that Dan does not have any training to counsel people on “health, diet, spirituality, or fitness.” Not that you need some sort of vast educational pedigree to give good advice, but if he’s going to make it a formal work requirement where he’s supposed to coach you on these highly-individualized and complex subjects, he should probably have some sort of qualification other than his belief that he can do these things.

    If pushing back directly against this is not going to work for you, maybe we can use a tactic from the movie Clueless (a great authority on all things) where Dionne tells the PE teacher, “I have a note from my tennis instructor, and he would prefer it if I didn’t expose myself to any training that might derail his teachings.” You could mention that you’re working with a doctor, nutritionist, religious leader, or personal trainer (you know, professionals) on your personal wellness to remind Dan that he is not your only source of support for these issues.

    1. Oranges*

      Be sure to be gender neutral if the expert is female. Or even say they’re male even if they aren’t. Because by your comments, I don’t think he’ll respect it otherwise.

  53. designbot*

    While I feel I should clarify that I’m 100% on the ‘nope!’ train here, I am wondering where this is coming from. I’m thinking of how executives often work with life coaches who’ll get involved in things like, recommending they work out first thing in the morning to increase their energy level, improving their sleep habits so that they are more rested for the day, etc. Think of the ‘guru’ spoofed in Silicon Valley—that was a parody of something that really happens in some work environments.
    Is there a way of putting up the boundary while acknowledging that Dan’s interest in coaching you in this area might be a part of him recognizing that you have executive potential?

  54. UKDancer*

    I think if you don’t want to challenge this openly, find something so dull that he won’t want to hear about it. I’d opt for the really boring things around my hobbies (which contribute to my broader wellbeing) rather than anything. Double points if it’s something very technical like embroidery or building an internal combustion engine from scratch.

    I’d give him daily updates on the different technique clips I’ve watched on youtube on how to improve my french knot technique. Once I’d exhausted this I’d move onto an explanation of my process for evaluating the benefits of different types of embroidery thread and show him my spreadsheet explaining this.

    I have found that boring people until they go away can be a most effective way of quelling this sort of interference.

    1. Curmudgeon in California*

      Oregami: “Today I folded a frog. I am researching different formats of cranes.”

  55. Granny K*

    I had a boss back in the day who thought it was good for one of my ‘work’ goals to be losing weight and getting healthier. This is the same boss who asked me out (so I had to pretend I misunderstood him and act like he wanted me to plan an offsite for the team.)

    Yeah, total lack of boundaries that guy.

  56. cmcinnyc*

    I once had a boss who was very into what she called holistic goal setting, and this reminds me of her. She wanted to bring her whole self into everything she did, blah blah blah. I framed my refusal as needing work to be a “safe space” where I could focus and let any personal problems go. I could tell she really, really wanted to ask but she was professional enough not to, and went with “I’m glad this can be a safe space for you.” Would this work with Dan? No idea. Offering it FWIW.

    1. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

      This.
      I am not constitutionally set up for “whole self” stuff. My brain is all about compartmentalizing. Bringing personal goals into work will negatively affect *both* of them.

    2. ADHSquirrelWhat*

      It’s also really not getting what “whole self” is /about/ –

      Usually it’s about things like /not leaving your ethics at the office door/ type stuff. NOT a case of having no boundaries.

      It’s really frustrating trying to discuss actual whole-self concepts and dealing with people that think that means butting into people’s personal lives! (this rant is at your former boss, not you!)

      1. cmcinnyc*

        I know. My thoughts when she was talking were always like, “My whole self wants to leave the room.” or “My whole self prefers to be treated like an independent adult.” On one level I really got where she was trying to go with this stuff but really, I just wanted *her* to go there, alone, by her own whole self.

  57. bbdubs83*

    I was asked for something similar once upon a time, but on a corporate level. I set my personal goal as “Maintain appropriate boundaries within the workplace, to help ensure an appropriate work/life balance,” and left it at that for several years.

  58. NotAnotherManager!*

    I have to admit, the idea of having any desire to get enmeshed in my folks’ personal lives is completely baffling to me. We have enough to do just making sure everyone is fully trained, has the resources they need, and doesn’t start burning the candle at both ends at work and related to work projects/tasks. I just do not have the time or emotional energy to manage people’s personal affairs as well.

  59. A Jane*

    How about a vanilla-ish goal of saying you’ll read AAM every day to become more aware of how to handle work conflict?! Either wait some time to suggest this goal or do it straight away so he has a chance to see this post and the responses!!

    Good luck whatever you decide. It’s hard when you had a boss that’s great at some things and sucky at others.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      Thanks! I agree if all work managers read this site, maybe the workforce would be a slightly less-weird place.

  60. booboo*

    This reminds me so much of a mandatory class I had to take at work that was led by our CEO. It’s purpose was to encourage us to identify our personal values and learn more about ourselves so that we could then practice daily in all aspects of our life. It sounds like your boss wants to mentor and help you reach your desired outcomes. My experience was weird… your’s sounds even more weird since it’s 1-1… but my takeaway was that you only share as much as you want.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      YES. I sense he wants to one-on-one mentor me to make me better, but it feels so gross. I can’t help but think he’ll take his wins as church wins or regale his coaching to his ‘all-male think power group’.

  61. Natalia*

    That is not appropriate and it’s definitely overstepping professional boundaries. That said, my work does have a health fair that is sponsored by our health insurance provider. But, its not mandatory and our bosses and managers don’t find out everyone’s results. They also offer free lab work which is nice! But again, employees are not required to take part and my boss would never find out the results of my lab work.

  62. Optimus Prima Donna*

    A colleague of mine actually bought an alpaca and used it (breeding it and raising the offspring) as her personal fulfillment goal. It started out as a joke to give this ridiculous consultant our company hired something that kept them satisfied albeit puzzled and wound up becoming interesting.

    Try something…maybe set a goal of one new major experience a quarter and then hit a new restaurant, learn wiffleball, go to a gun range…

    I’m not condoning your bosses actions at all. Just saying that you can put time and effort into fobbing him off or do something for yourself. If you do the former, you expend time and energy and get nothing in return. If you do the latter, you might benefit and at the end of the day, better that you win.

    1. OP with Snoopy Boss*

      Agreed! I am picking something that benefits me in some form or fashion. Plus, the petty person in me wants this to be MY win and not his. He has no control over my interest in landscaping. He could claim some win over coaching me to exercise 3 times per week. I just hate that I even have to think about this.

      1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        landscaping is physical work! AND you can get in some “closer to nature” stuff while you’re at it.

        He wants to mentor you on stuff that’s .. interesting /to him/???? that just takes gross to a whole new level.

  63. Part-time Poet*

    Tell him that you are training to become a professional crowd estimator as a side hustle. Go into to great (made-up) details about how you decide to count which people in different quadrants of the event, how you add and multiply the masses and if the color of their clothes help you count and your excitement about counting all the people in the next 4th of July parade! Or other events, real or made up.

  64. Melissa*

    Malicious compliance ideas:

    1. Dicuss your collection of dental floss. Go into great detail about waxed vs. unwaxed, flavored vs. unflavored, tape vs. rope, brand differences, etc.
    2. Tell him you are going to memorize all the dialog in the movie “The Princess Bride” so you can inject quotes into your everyday life.
    3. Tell him you are taking up earwax sculpting and need donations. Discuss the Empire State Building you plan to build.
    4. Tell him you are going to take up learning to shoot rifles, including sniper rifles.
    5. Your goal is to watch every episode of (any long-running series) and compare the quality of the lighting and framing shots in each one. Plus how well the Foley effects are dubbed in.
    6. Wax enthusiastic about the career of Tim Stack, and how he is THE most underrated actor ever.
    7. Discuss your collection of silverware stolen from various restaurants. You’re going to make a spreadsheet organizing them by location stolen from/type of silverware/how dirty they are/real or fake silver plating/etc.

    And last but not least, tell him you are considering dabbling in Avon selling. Would he like to be your first customer? :)

    1. Jules the 3rd*

      Wait, doesn’t everyone already have Princess Bride memorized? Or is that just people of a certain age?

      Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line!

      1. Heidi*

        Only “of a certain age”?? INCONCEIVABLE!

        I also find a surprising number of opportunities to say, “Why didn’t you list that among our assets in the first place?” in my daily life.

      2. Melissa*

        Well, between my husband and I we do.

        My family does not appreciate its greatness. They don’t understand why we have four different copies of the movie plus the book in physical and ebook form. :)

    2. Akcipitrokulo*

      You know I could actually do a couple of those as I memorised & performed Tam O’Shanter, so could say I want to improve, give him all 224 lines each week and ask for feedback on my style, discuss the various constraints of environment on demonstrating Meg’s panicked escape from Nannie’s clutches and exactly how much (if any) clothing should be discarded.

      Then start to discuss the different voices and first/second/third person used…

      I also know a LOT about M*A*S*H ;)

      1. scarlet Magnolias*

        I myself can recite Atalanta in Calydon by Swinburne and will happily do so at the drop of a hat.

  65. Random Thought*

    *adds “Dismantle the Patriarchy” to annual goals list*

    Embarrassed I hadn’t included it sooner…

  66. WineNot*

    Your boss must think that because people LOVE to talk about themselves constantly, they must also love sharing their personal goals with their bosses……..!

    It seems weird to try to force the conversation because often these things come up organically through conversations with your colleagues. Weird to have a specific part of your one-on-one dedicated to talking about personal goals. I would just avoid it as much as possible.

  67. Mannheim Steamroller*

    “My goal is to figure out the actual business purpose of these meetings.”

    “My goal is to get back to work on the Llama Mama Rama account. The client is upset that these meetings are interfering with my responsiveness.”

  68. Akcipitrokulo*

    My (yearly) personal development chat wasn’t part of any assessment or performance review. It was “how do you see yourself developing and how can we work towars that” but with focus on “in the work environment” and a hint of “on what would you like us to spend the training budget for you this year?”

    Dicussing personal development in terms of “I’m interested in X area of business but think I need to learn Y software package or have Z course…” would then have a chat about how that would benefit business and usually result in being sent on at least one of learning opportunities I’d highlighted.

    Another company I know gives its employees up to £1000 to spend on any learning, related to work or not, so that non-work chat is reasonable. “Any personal development aims?” “Well, I’ve taken a fancy to learning how to rock-climb and there’s a weekend course…” “OK, we’ll fund that!”

    What he is doing is weird and creepy.

  69. Lyys*

    I had an interview at an indie bookstore that I was really excited about. The application was just an email talking about why you like books and whatever experience you might have. I had been an inventory manager at a different indie book chain (not an oxymoron) and felt like this was another great opportunity. The manager replied and invited me to interview but didn’t sign the reply. I figured it was a typo, no biggie. Turns out she quoted my original email in the middle of her reply but not in a fashion that looked like it. And her recommendation on the display was a paleo diet book which, okay, I can deal with this, I was raised by an orthorexic. Interview goes great but then she gives me an assignment (!) to go sign up to volunteer at the local food co-op and tells me she keeps a spreadsheet for all employees with personal/off work goals! For a minimum wage job!

    I declined and she was SHOCKED. I could have fudged the off work stuff, I could have dealt with the woo woo diet pushing but truthfully, it was the nonstandard use of email that pushed me over the edge. Thanks be to Leia I found that to be extra irritating because otherwise I would have ended up quitting in a blaze of glory because for $8/hour you don’t get to tell me what to do when you aren’t paying me and I almost fell for it.

  70. OlympiasEpiriot*

    AAAAAARRRRRRGGGGGGGHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I came here looking for anyone replying thusly, did not see it and so I feel duty bound to add my personal initial response.

    AAAAAAAAARRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGHHHHHHMMMMMNNNNNNUUUUUGGGGGGG!!!!!!!!!!!!

    *insert Muppet Beaker gif here*

    1. Betsy S*

      Love all the responses above.

      My gut reaction is to pick something that would help you get your next job. Taking a course, earning a cert, whatever would be useful. That would give me a certain amount of personal satisfaction, taking the overstepping and turning it to my advantage.

      (And maybe I’m less polite, but if it were me, and I say this as a very overweight person , I’d be unable to resist calling him out on the weight thing, saying that I want to keep health issues between myself and my doctor, and religion issues between myself and my Higher Power. And personally I always AM saying I want to carve out more space to read books, and I struggle mightily to force myself to watch training videos, so I would try to use one of those myself. )

  71. Retail not Retail*

    If you’re hourly, will you be paid for doing any of this?

    “Dan I worked out 5 hours this week so I’ll be leaving early Friday kthanx bye!”

  72. Mx*

    Could a mental well being goal be increasing healthy boundaries between personal life and work ?
    Explore in depth!

  73. nonegiven*

    It sounds like you need to make up some goals that will make both the boss and your husband uncomfortable.

  74. asser*

    just make up something ridiculous like you’ve converted to theistic satanism and you’re trying out different methods for ethically sacrificing goats

  75. Curmudgeon in California*

    My workplace has us put a “personal development” goal in our annual review BUT it is in regards to our professional skills, just not necessarily our current duties. No boundary violations there.

    Workplace “wellness” programs, OTOH…. no.

    This sounds like he’s trying to be a wellness coach, and that’s so not in his wheelhouse. If you can’t shut him down, go bland or malicious compliance.

  76. Apocalypse How*

    I’m Jewish, so if a non-Jewish boss pressured me into working on “spiritual” goals with him that would probably lead to me contacting a lawyer in short order. I could still make it difficult for him. “My spiritual goal is to read one page of the Talmud every day. It’s so nice of you to make a commitment to help me with this for 7.5 years. I am having a hard time understanding the part in Tractate Brachot 6a where it talks about how we are surrounded by tens of thousands of invisible demons . . .”

    1. Sacred Ground*

      Yeah, I’m kind of surprised we got this far into the thread without more discussion of potential religious discrimination here. OP has already said in comments that she thinks he’d fire anyone who pushed back on his spiritual advising. Seems to me this is a legit fear of retaliation if she doesn’t participate in his chosen religious activity. If she pushes back and he fires her as she predicts would happen, she’s got a slam-dunk case. I hope she’s documenting this.

    2. Jackalope*

      I mean, that would be totally inappropriate from a boss, but if I actually knew you in real life this sounds like a lot of fun!

  77. AKchic*

    I kept thinking about this one all morning.

    So many ways to maliciously comply with this boss. I think it might be time to pull a Ron Weasley.
    “I’ve decided that for my spiritual growth, I’m going to individually meet with each deity one-on-one each week, unless they’d be willing to do a group meeting in person.” There are over 5000 deities around the world. If you can get him to pay for your travel to Greece to talk to Aphrodite and Hera for your anniversary (or Hestia to discuss how inviting your home is after your remodeling) then see where it goes, eh?

  78. Nervous Nellie*

    Forgive me if this has already been addressed, but OP, are you really sharing your home payment paydown info with your boss? My goodness – it is so not his business! He has better not use it against you at raise time, saying you don’t need a raise since your mortgage is paid off/balance dropping, etc. I would immediate boundaries around that very private information.

    And seconded many times over that his expectation that your goals should be body-centric is beyond inappropriate.

    And seconded to go the bland route in self-defense and bore him to death with minutiae instead of playing his creepy game. Your home reno goals can be broken down into a million little goals, like finding the perfect lug wrench, and determining the composition of the aging tiles in the laundry room….good luck, and give us an update when you can!

    1. Nervous Nellie*

      ‘he HAD better not’

      “I would PLACE immediate boundaries”

      corrections – doing too many things at once! :)

  79. boo bot*

    Step 1: Invent a multi-level marketing scheme and/or religion.
    Step 2. Recruit, recruit, recruit.

    “I’ve found so much personal fulfillment since becoming a Brand Ambassador for Whole New You, the 29-step path to personal fulfillment. Our “Boss Man” nutritional supplement would be perfect for your needs, but I can also offer you our Ambassador’s Starter Kit for a discounted price of only $2,900 if you sign up before the end of the month…”

    Potential downside: he might join up. But, there are risks to everything in life!

  80. OP with Snoopy Boss*

    Afternoon Update:

    Thanks for your help, Alison and everyone! You are legit the BEST!

    I had my meeting with my boss today and told him what I’d be tackling as my personal goals: “Take 2 hours each week of added career enhancement learning (webinar, reading, coursework) across marketing, SEO, or content.”

    At the end of the meeting, I confirmed he’s fine with these goals. He says he’s good with it and wants me to share what I’m learning (which I do, anyway). I’m just thankful he won’t be poking into my personal life!

    Thanks so much for giving me so much to think about today! While I really would have liked to misbehave, I kept to goals rooted in career enrichment.

  81. Rebecca*

    Oh, I’d be SO tempted to name “standing up to male entitlement in professional spaces” as my “personal goal,” delivered with a bland smile…

  82. Viks*

    I think this boss is crazy. However, are these topics always outside of the work environment? Is there an exception for someone working at a gym or religious organization? I feel that is the only way these topics are close to okay.

  83. Harper the Other One*

    Thank you, footnote, for reminding me exactly why this blog is so much more fun than most!

  84. Liz Miller*

    I’ve loved all these comments!

    If you want go practical and bland, set a goal of bringing lunch x days a week or carpooling or going for a walk twice a day to clear the cobwebs out. Personal, but not too personal.

    A super boring topic I could go on all day about is phone apps. AnyList! (Share your shopping list with your family so everyone can add to it or see it at the store). Curb! (If you’re in NYC. Order up a real NYC cab as though it were an Uber). You get the idea.

  85. Susana*

    Oh, I LOVE Alison’s asterisk suggestions! The whole “goal” thing is getting really annoying. It’s as if the only other option is to be lazy and unfocused. I was on the cross trainer at the gym, and an employee approached me to offer me a “free” training session. I said I didn’t think I was interested. He persisted, and said we should sit down and talk about what my goals are. I said, “I don’t have any.” He was appalled. I mean, just stunned. As if I could not just *like* the physical and mental release of exercise – I had to have a goal! Lose 10 pounds! Get cut! Develop lady-like muscles that are appealing but not threatening to men!
    So it’s January, and people always ask what your New Year’s Resolution is. I always say, “to have more fun.” And I think that’s a good goal to tell intrusive boss.

  86. Keymaster of Gozer*

    One of my former managers from 2 firms back actually put “weight loss” and “attempt to be healthier” on my review as objectives. I remember clearly being in tears for hours after because he was serious.

    (Whether I’ve got a high BMI due to disabilities and medications has NO impact on my ability to do my job)

    In the end I left that firm, as even HR agreed that those were ‘acceptable goals’. It frankly boggles my mind how many managers think this kind of personal privacy invasion is totally ok for work!

  87. Big Biscuit*

    Am I the only one who gets a little depressed reading these stories? What the hell is wrong with some supervisors? Is it driven by excessive prescription drug use???? What boss in their right mind would think it’s ok to set up personal goals for an employee within the work environment? I have been in a supervisory role for 30 years, a thought like these has never even crossed my mind. It’s challenging enough coming together on work goals, who has the time and energy for such other nonsense?

    1. Keymaster of Gozer*

      It’s been my experience that bosses like this *cause* excessive prescription use in others.

      (I’m assuming you mean abuse of meds, not taking a lot of medications!)

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