I'm the type of person who is always reevaluating how I do things for maximum efficiency.
So the other day, during my mid-year goal review I was reading my past goals and I literally laughed out loud when I reading through my 2020 goals.
It rained curveballs in 2020, but if I learned anything- besides the fact that even my introverted ass needs a lot more human social interactions than I ever thought possible- it was to make my goals attainable and to keep going forward- even with the tiniest of steps.
2020 was the year where small steps counted as huge steps.
2020 was the year that we congratulated ourselves for getting out of our pajamas and honestly, we deserved it!
For me, it was also the year when I finally got to take significant time off work, have more connection with myself, my family, my wellbeing, and my new husband.
I thought access to all that stuff I longed for would come in the shape of a lucrative new business opportunity that somehow miraculously also allowed me to work way less and make way more.😂
Instead, it came in the form of a global pandemic, political unrest, and a civil rights movement.
But you know what- I did end up getting exactly what I asked for and I'm thankful for that either way.
Anyways, I'm here and were half way through a whole new year that has come with some hard lessons already built-in.
When trying to picture what my life will look like and what I would like to keep reach for in 2021, something tells me that I need to keep it simple. You know, just in case things continue to be rollercoaster-y.
So when setting intentions for the rest of this year I can't help but keep certain lessons in mind.
You see, I've been burned one too many times by doing the way too much, way too fast approach to working on goals.
Then there is the planning stuff too rigidly and then getting upper-cutted by reality one too many times. I have also been a lifelong victim of this cycle: my own inability to say no -->then get overwhelmed--> shut down.
Not this year, baby!
This year I'm tossing my unrealistic expectations of productivity, the inability to prioritize my wellbeing, and most of all I'm saying sayonara to biting off more than I can chew.
The idea is to keep a sustainable, even enjoyable pace and move towards my dreams.
Keeping in mind to stay flexible and course-correct when needed when the unexpected stuff comes along because it will. It will be breaking down those big goals into smaller more digestible ones, VS all the rest of the new year/new me BS strategies.
I want to keep my daily goals as attainable as they get. In these crazy times, my highest daily aspirations have been as simple as changing out of my PJs, going for a walk and making dinner instead of ordering food. On the days when I do all 3, I feel like I've conquered the world- no joke! Looking back,at my pre-pandemic pace, I can't help but wonder what on earth possessed me to go so hard? And what for, really?
This in no way means to stop thinking big or to set limits for what is possible for you. This is just taking smaller steps that are accessible to you right now, in order to move towards the big dreams.
This past years you may have felt as though you have been pushed beyond your abilities to cope, so can we please stop it with the hustle culture and the productivity pressure?
If you’re anything like me and refuse to take part in “resolution culture”, yet at the same time might be feeling a bit stuck on where to go from here and how to get to your dreams and start somewhere given the current landscape, keep reading.
I Started with my Mental Wellbeing
Nothing feels more self-defeating than lacking the emotional bandwidth to even begin to think about your goals.
Overwhelm has been the theme, so why add more stress and overwhelm by pressuring yourself to achieve stuff when you're not in the right mental space?
Just Don't. You truly, truly don't have to. You are doing the best you possibly can, and it is enough.
Understand that at times you may be in a place where you can't even fathom getting through the day, much less keep a clear picture of what you want to achieve and the goals that will get you there.
For instance, being a health care professional in the front lines of a pandemic may not be the right time to make radical shifts like starting Crossfit or going fully plant-based. Or maybe it is, what do I know? The point is that the path to wellbeing looks different for everyone, but what is the same is that when our wellbeing falters, we can't think as clearly and it feels as if the proverbial windshield of our minds is full of mud and we can't see ahead.
So if you have trouble with figuring out where you want to go from here- that lack of clarity may be a sign that your wellbeing-mental, physical or spiritual- may need some attention and extra care.
I want you to understand that having the clarity, bandwidth, and drive to think about goals and what you want out of life comes with rest. And I don't mean just getting a good night's sleep, I mean really shifting out of fight or flight, where the mind and body give you permission to focus on other things other than surviving.
So if you are here and what you need most is spirit renewing rest and recalibration, a time to be and not do, or professional assistance in getting back to yourself please let yourself off the hook and give yourself the pause, the time, and the space to explore that.
How you heal and the form it takes is very personal and can look completely different for everyone, it cannot be timed. Maybe it's CrossFit and veganism, maybe it's therapy and medical assistance, I don't know, and neither does anyone who is not in your skin. For me, healing my wellbeing looked like dropping PAing, blogging, and teaching yoga for a long while, therapy, western and eastern medicine, and being bored for a long time before I was able to feel any desire to focus on anything but what was right in front of me. I needed that respite desperately, and letting myself off the hook to perform was the best thing I ever did for myself.
Fully and unapologetically focus on your mental+ physical wellbeing. The clarity will come to you over time with genuine rest, and when you're ready to project a bit farther into the future, start here.
If you would like to hear more about my experience with burnout and my decision to take a long hiatus, I did a 2 part podcast as a guest on the Burnt Out to Lit Up Podcast where I go more in-depth into this experience. Listen to it here.
I Smartened up my Goals
Once you have the mental wealth and would like to set and achieve some goals, consider making them S.M.A.R.T
If you’ve never heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals, the way you think of goals is about to change for the better! The word SMART in Smart goals is an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
A study conducted by Dr. Gail Matthews, a psychology professor at the Dominican University in California, found that people are 42 percent more likely to achieve their goals when they write them down.
Now imagine how much more accuracy you will have in hitting those goals if you are also writing down a clear and attainable plan on how you’re going to get there.
Smart Goals are like a roadmap to your dreams.
The following is a snippet of my process for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.
I move towards bigger goals for the year by breaking em' down into bite-sized, daily, and easily implementable tasks. The size of the goal doesn't really matter, you can make any goal smart. Years ago I created some templates that I find super useful in this process. There is really no wrong or right way of doing it, just fill em' out in any way that is useful to you.
Review accomplishments the past year and drop anything that no longer resonates. Keep what does. This can be in any area of your life, not just work or academics, it can be in relationships, well-being, family, pets, and anything else you consider to be an accomplishment of value to you personally, even if others might not think so.
2. Take your main goals for the year and make them SMART.
DOWNLOAD MY FREE TEMPLATES HERE
3. Limit your focus. Start with 1 goal at a time, then add more once you feel like you can handle the next one. Avoid overfilling your plate, because it may backfire. Above all else, keep it simple & doable!
4.Schedule sustainable blocks of time for the next month to work on them. Repeat.
Now that you have an idea of how to layout a plan, it's time to automate. Incorporate tasks into your day to day that will baby step you towards your goal until it becomes a habit. I love the trigger, action, reward method as described by James Clear from one of my favorite productivity hack books- Atomic Habits.
For example, if your goal is to save more money and you're wanting to cook more meals at home, perhaps leave your air fryer on top of your kitchen counter as a trigger so that you remember to make a meal that day. Then when you plan the meal, reward yourself with your morning coffee. When you actually make your meal you may choose to transfer $15 into a savings account or something like that.
Eventually, the trigger stimuli will just elicit the thought/ feeling of getting the reward, just as Pavlov's dog salivated at the sound of a bell because he got used to getting a treat with the bell. The action will be automatic after 66 days.
Can you tell that I struggle with sticking to cooking at home daily and I actually require 2 rewards to get it done? 😂🤦♀️
Motivation is pretty much guaranteed to fail at some point. If I waited to be motivated to do something necessary but that I hate doing the dishes would never get done. It has helped me to get it out of my head that motivation is needed to do anything. It certainly helps, but it is not required. Discipline must take over when motivation fails.
Discipline > Motivation
Expect to Mess up and Keep going
In a perfect world, we would all wake up every day with tons of energy, no surprise roadblocks, and tick every single thing about our to-do list. But that's not real life, especially not in these times.
Messing up is expected and honestly who cares! Life happens. Skip the guilt and just exert that energy to getting back on track.
Skipped a workout? Who cares, Skip the extra punishment pushups and do it at the same time tomorrow. You are one workout away from getting back on track.
Ordered food instead of making it at home a few times during a hard week? Instead of spending the weekend stressing yourself out in a meal prep frenzy to make up for it, rest. You're only 1 meal away from getting back on track. Pick it up Monday.
If Pavlov's dog taught us anything- is that positive reinforcement works like a drug. You may use this to your advantage. It helps to keep the big picture in the forefront of your mind as you inch yourself towards your big goals.
On the days (who are we kidding-weeks and months) when I feel unmotivated to make food at home, I like to visualize how rich I'm going to be after I pay off my student loans and how much freedom, travel, investing and animal saving I'm going to do once that day comes.
Then making food at home takes on a new meaning. That will usually get me to STFU and fire up that air fryer.
Stop it with the Comparing
Just like healing, everyone's goals are personal. Everyone's journey will look different and this includes the timing.
Please consider that social media is not a realistic barometer of personal success. It can be an illusory entrapment. Imagine if there was some kind of rating system that gave a number from 1-10 with every picture posted that measured how close that person was between where they are and where they wish they were. I think it would make us all sad.
Life is hard at times, but that doesn't mean it will always be like that, even if it feels like it's taking forever.
Even when the situation isn't ideal:
We can put our wellbeing first and be in a better place mentally.
We can be co-creators of our experiences.
We can stay malleable in our approach towards our biggest goals.
We can take breaks on the journey.
We can start over again and again.
We can do the hard things.
We can have incredible compassion towards ourselves & others.
We can keep connecting to joy in simple ways.
We can take the smallest steps and still get there.
We can have enough, do enough, and be enough all day every day, no matter what the world tells us.
Most of all,
Even if the situation isn't ideal,
We can start super small and start today.
Ask yourself , What is one tiny step you can take today towards a big goal?
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