Ok. Time to get real. In thinking about opening up and sharing my ideas on goals, I decided I wanted to begin a monthly series on my own personal goals, starting at the beginning of each month, and share my trials, successes, and failures. Unfortunately, I’ve got to begin with a failure. My thought process in posting this today, September 2 was, “What kind of person writes a blog post about setting goals at the start of every month on the second day of the month? Molly, you have no business posting about a time-sensitive project a day late, and you should get it together and wait until October to start a series about monthly goals.”
I could have stopped there. A couple of years ago, I would have stopped there. I would have said, alright, I’ll wait until next month, and that gives me 4 whole more weeks to get it right and post the perfect entry! Then I would have put it off until September 29th or 30th rolled around, realize I didn’t accomplish anything, and never get around to reaching any of my goals because of a number on the calendar. Aaanndd, I would feel like total crap as a result.
Roadblocks and setbacks
At almost 34 years old (September is my birthday month!), I think we all do this a bit… we build roadblocks keeping us from being as successful as we wish we were because we find reasons – not even excuses, but actual valid reasons – why we need to wait for step 1 or 2 or whatever to happen before we can get started on step 3. That kind of thinking does have merit, to a point. I should have planned ahead and had this post ready for publication on September 1. I can still make my own goals, but internally this time. I won’t write it down or bring it up, nobody will know I wanted to post about setting monthly goals on the start of the month, and I can get to it later.
But that is not how goals get accomplished. That’s how a person starts beating themselves up because of one or two setbacks, which turns the dream of accomplishing something into one whole entire setback. If you can’t bounce back from these roadblocks by learning from them so you can plan better for the outcome you want in the next go round, you wind up quitting. So a day later than what I originally felt like would have been perfect, I am readjusting my own expectations and giving myself a little room for error while still holding myself accountable for putting my thoughts out there.
Share your goals!
I want to write about my own goals because I’ve read countless times that writing your goals down and sharing them with others will help you keep yourself on track. I do want to keep myself on track, but I also would love to find others out there who are interested in pushing their lives forward and crafting a route to get themselves to the endpoint they desire. That’s all a goal is: an endpoint, a destination. It doesn’t have to be grand in size, just something to look forward to, to work toward. I’ve had daily goals as simple as composing a thorough Costco list. As quickly as hitting setbacks and choosing to give up will cause you to cut yourself down and feel awful, crossing off an accomplished goal, no matter the size, can spur an inner desire to continue on a path toward achievement.
I encourage simple goals to start. You must begin with step 1. However, if you miss step 1, as I did yesterday, that doesn’t mean you scratch the mark completely; it means you revisit and revise until you get realize the right starting place for you. For me, the starting line is September 2, 2017.
Start with a feeling
I begin goal-setting by thinking about how I feel now and how I want to feel later. Look at the pain points in your life and start from there.
For example, I’ve taken to blogging thus far as a hobby I do in my spare time. I spend less hours working at it than I did in my part time high school job at 24 Hour Fitness. But every time I have a new follower on Instagram or a new person I’ve never met before clicking on my links, I know it could be something more.
As another completely different example, an issue I face daily is dinner. I LOVE to cook. Sharing meals with my family and friends is one of my favorite things in the world. But I feel like I’m in a rut lately, and by the time 6pm rolls around, I’m scraping together a meal of what’s left in the fridge, or running to the grocery store to pick up whatever’s on sale.
Last example: my husband and I both work as real estate agents, meaning we both work from home a good portion of the time. As I write this, I’m sitting in a very comfortable, but equally very impractical-for-work chair in my living room with the laptop literally atop my lap, knowing full well we have a whole entire unused room upstairs waiting to be turned into a home office.
All of these “problems” can be resolved, and I know that. Whenever I think about how easy it would be to put in the work, change my habits, and end up changing my life, my gut reaction is to become frustrated with myself for not having the willpower or the determination to have already fixed what’s not working. But my secondary reaction is to take inventory of what I am in control of and what I can work to become in control of, and put it all together to get to where I want to be. I know that 6 months from now, I want to feel like an accomplished blogger. I want to feel like I don’t have to stress about feeding my family every night because I’ve created the habit of meal planning. I want to feel like I have a place to work in my own home that’s structured and organized, and designed the way I want it to look.
Create achievable goals
Each of these ideas seem achievable today because they are 6 months out. Right now, I can dream of having all of these things under control and how great I’m going to feel when they are under my belt. That is all abstract until a plan is in place. I need to get a little more specific.
To begin, I’m going to be a little easy on myself because I know myself enough to see how easy I can be deterred by a setback. I live for lists – crossing off completed items feels absolutely amazing to me. Rather than write those three things down to be accomplished arbitrarily at a later date, I need the structure of breaking up tasks to create an action plan.
- Create a blog I’m proud of.
- Become a meal-planning master.
- Work with my husband to finish our home office.
- Spend one hour working on the blog (writing or taking photos) every single day.
- Publish a new blog post every week.
- Create a weekly meal plan with the family’s input every Saturday night.
- Draft a weekly grocery list to accompany said meal plan every Saturday night.
- Clear out all the stuff we’ve been storing in the office room and put it where it actually goes.
- Build our desks.
- Build and install the glass dry erase board on the office wall.
- Post a goal update on the blog at the end of the month.
Don’t beat yourself up
Here’s the tough part, and it’s coming from real and present experience: do not let setbacks set you back. Mistakes are a learning experience, always. As a mom, when I see my kids make a mistake, I make them say what they messed up out loud. It’s not a shaming technique, it’s an opportunity for self improvement. It’s because if you can’t see what you’re doing wrong, if you can’t say it out loud or write it down or otherwise consciously identify it, you will let the mistake get the best of you. You’ll let that mistake define and allow your bad choices.
There will always be setbacks or mistakes. I had one today, and I had to make a choice. I had to take a look at what I did wrong and decide to either wait it out and write that perfectly timed post at the start of next month (and risk maybe never getting around to it), or use that knowledge to change step 1 so I could keep moving forward instead of waiting out 29 more days.
Your goals are yours. They are an opportunity for you to improve your own situation and change your life in a way that is meaningful to you. Think about the big ideas you have for your life, then break those ideas apart into specific action plans to be achieved over smaller periods getting you to where you want to go.
Do you have an inner dialogue that is maybe a little negative, distracting you from doing what you want? I know I do. I have to shut that bitch up every day. Give your goals a voice by making sure your inner words of encouragement are louder than the ones detracting you. Tell yourself, “You can do this!” every single day, and mean it. Sound hokey? I know. But it works.
What kind of goals do you have for yourself? What’s your best tip on keeping track of your progress and staying on task? I would love to hear what you’re working on – comment below or message me with your thoughts!