Hello Readers! I know that for many of you this month is one full of trying to accomplish your New Years Resolution, whatever that may be. And while I commend you for your efforts, I want to spend today talking about something very similar: yearly goal setting. For me, I don’t set a New Years Resolution because I have so many different things I want to accomplish in the year that setting only one goal and focusing all of my energy on that one goal in the past has always led to failure or struggles with my self esteem when my resolution doesn’t go as planned. So, instead, I focus on several goals and allocate time each week all year to achieving my goals. If I only focused on one of them, then this blog wouldn’t exist as it was a mid-year goal I set last May.
Anyway, before we get into my advice for creating goals, I want to warn you against expecting perfection or wishing for perfection. As much as even I wish my life was perfect, it isn’t possible. And, it would be a boring life anyway. So, I highly recommend striving for the best, but don’t beat yourself up when it doesn’t always work out. Oh, and have patience, which I struggle with every day. I have given up on goals before when I didn’t see immediate results, but I have always regretted the wasted opportunities afterward. This is why I highly recommend having several goals going at once as it will help keep you motivated as you go. So, let’s jump into my tips and advice on setting goals.
1. Know what you wish to accomplish.
This seems very rudimentary, but even I have been known to lose track of the goal behind my own schedule. So, this is important to your overall success and to accomplishing a very smooth routine every day. And this changes all the time. In 2015, I was very focused on my new marriage and on my pregnancy as well as spending the first part of the year taking some extra classes for a teaching license. Last January, I was focusing on my weight goals and trying to keep it together while attempting to recover from losing my father (albeit sometimes unsuccessfully). This year I’m focusing on about ten different projects, from a complete overhaul of our home (who knew that such tiny people could have so much stuff!) to a few weight loss and workout systems, not to mention honing in my own routine as I grow and learn about my world. While it seems crazy, having so many projects keeps me busy and happy as I feel more accomplished and more productive. And I feel like it sets a good example for our son Sean. It’s based on the old saying that idle hands are never a good thing.
I recommend taking an afternoon off from being a mom in order to get your goals on paper. Leave your spouse/significant other in charge for the afternoon and go to your favorite coffee shop or cafe. Take whatever you think you’ll need: bullet journal, planner, notebook, pens, laptop, etc. And then brainstorm on your goals for the year. I will advise that you have at least one goal for each of these areas of your life: Family/Parenting, Household, Finances, Self (mental/spiritual), Self (physical), and Career. Even Stay at Home Moms like me should set at least one goal in the career section. Maybe you want to go back to school to get a certification for a new field, or maybe you want to elevate your weekly routine to make it more productive for you. Whatever the case may be, we all have room for improvement in these areas of our lives. So, take some time to brainstorm your goals, and then break it down by individual goals for each month. Maybe in January you want to focus on getting back into your old routine. But in February, you want to start a new workout regime and work on cleaning out your closet, as well as doing something special for Valentine’s Day, go back to church, save money, etc. Start figuring out your monthly goals and put them on paper. And then, when you get home, put those monthly goals somewhere visible or somewhere that you can easily find and see regularly in order to stick to them.
2. Take time to plan and prioritize.
This is key to your success. Take time every month to plan and prepare for your goals. Take an afternoon off to visit that favorite haunt and go over your goals again. Make sure you’re still on track and adjust as you need. Every month. No matter how crazy it gets or how busy you get, especially during the holidays, take time to prepare yourself for the coming month and to stay on top of your goals. You will thank yourself when you see your progress. If nothing else, you can at least enjoy the sanity break for an afternoon.
On top of this, take an hour each week to look over your week and prepare or plan for anything coming up. I also recommend using this time to plan your menu, your groceries, when you’ll work on your goals, and what have you. I like to do this on Saturdays when our son Sean is down for his nap. That way I can start my Sundays on track and ready to hit the ground running. While I understand that Saturdays may be busy, I still recommend finding time to work on your weekly schedule before the week begins, or to rethink your week from Sunday-Saturday to Monday-Sunday in order to be ready to rock it come Monday morning. This is crucial to your success each week, and it helps prevent the missed appointments or forgotten events that we always remember last minute.
Finally, take a few minutes each night before bed to regroup and prepare yourself for the next day. This can include preparing lunches for the next day. This can mean writing your to do list so you’re ready to go first thing in the morning. Whatever it may be, I recommend preparing your clothes for the next day, setting out the important things like mail to go out or permission slips for a field trip, etc.. Set your keys underneath these items (not on top, or you may forget them if you have something spring up that sets you back) or put them in your purse/backpack, etc. Set your alarm and set up your coffee for the next day. Do what you can to make your next day as smooth as possible. Doing these little things can really save a lot of hassle in the morning and it can lead to a more productive day overall.
3. Forgive yourself.
This is the most important piece of advice I can offer with regard to setting goals. You need to forgive yourself when it doesn’t go as planned. Just forgive and use that opportunity to figure out how to achieve your goals regardless. I failed to do this last year. I struggled with my weight loss and dieting regime and took it pretty hard when I failed to lose weight. It was depressing, and it did lead to a lot of self-hatred and self-loathing, not to mention a lot of bingeing on Netflix. And while I still have the same goals in mind, I needed to forgive myself for not achieving my goal and giving up when I did (after being fat shamed at the gym). And I needed time to rethink my strategy. While I’m not ready to rush with this goal, I have an idea in mind that will hopefully help me get closer to my goals that I’ve begun.
Still, forgive yourself and move on when things go wrong. Don’t write off your success like I did. Just get back on that horse and ride it to the end. I know how tough it can be to want to stick with it, especially with little ones at home. Even I have days in which I have so much planned and nothing gets done right because I have to spend the day with an obstinate child. Just last Wednesday I struggled with my plans flying out the window as I dealt with our sixteen month old son Sean getting into everything and making a mess. Just as I would finish picking up and putting away the toys he’d thrown across the living room I’d find he had already managed to pull down every book he could reach on our bookcases or that he’d pulled all of my Tupperware containers out of their cabinet and had strewn them across my kitchen floor. All this on a day when I was trying to prepare for my in-laws to watch him in our home while I went to a dentist appointment. Needless to say, I get it. Life is not forgiving for us moms, so we need to learn to forgive ourselves when it seems like everyone and everything is against us and our goals become unattainable. Just write off the bad day, even if it meant you polished off that pint of Hagen Daaz or that pound of See’s Chocolates in a sitting out of spite, and start the next day fresh. Sometimes, something as simple as a nap or an hour break can mean a world of difference.
So, that’s my basic advice in setting your goals for the year and achieving them. What have you found that works for you? I would love to hear some of your advice!
Until next time,