Setting goals. It’s something we’ve all been familiar with, probably since kindergarten. Of course, when you’re younger the focus is on using the potty or not eating crayons (pretty important, I would say). Most of the time there’s a reward for completing your goals as a kid, either in the form of a gold star or a special treat. When we grow up those rewards become more internal and less of a focus for other people. As a teen, you may have set goals to finish high school and start college, or find a job after school. Transitioning away from the gold star method might be easier for some than others.
If it hasn’t become painfully clear to you through my other posts, I am a self-proclaimed overachiever and recovering perfectionist (yes, I believe that’s a thing). I have always loved the idea of setting goals and achieving them. For me, knowing that I accomplished something that I had set out to do is very satisfying.
Growing up through high school and college, however, I struggled with the concept of setting achievable and realistic goals. It often left me feeling discouraged or like I was not doing enough, when in reality I was just not looking at the whole picture and really understanding the limitations of what I could and could not do in a stated period of time.
I struggled with goal-setting even when I was working in public accounting. Like most big organizations, much of our performance reviews included how we did in accomplishing the goals we set out to do during the year. Wanting to be one of the best in my class, I would usually set pretty high expectations for myself. While I would meet some of those expectations, there were others I would fall short on…mainly because I got really tired really quickly of the constant struggle between personal life and professional life (aka, not having a personal life during busy season).
When I made the jump out of public accounting and into the world of stay-at-home motherhood, it was a freeing and terrifying feeling. You can read more about my experience HERE. Trying to adjust to staying at home and running a business at the same time, many of my to-do lists were pages long and (not shockingly) rarely were fulfilled. It was a frustrating and humbling time, but eventually I started to realize and appreciate my gifts as well as my limitations. Once I jumped that hurdle, I became much more efficient and was happier, too.
The last couple of months of my pregnancy, and the first three months of little M’s life, I only had one goal: SURVIVE. Dramatic? Maybe. But it is very much true. I would still write out daily to-do lists but they mostly consisted of things like “Do Laundry. Wash Dishes. Take a shower.” Writing these things down not only helped me feel more sane, but also held me accountable. It has been hugely helpful.
Now that we have hit the three-month mark with M, I feel like I can **sort of** breathe again. Just a little bit. Enough that my goal-oriented brain has started going crazy. Once I started to daydream about what I could accomplish beyond the next day, my thought process started going something like this:
“Okay, what should be on our list today? Let’s focus on the house first.
Normal stuff: Dishes, Laundry, check.
Maybe you could vacuum. It’s a lot of work with the girls but we could do it.
And we should wash the floors too, you know how gross they are right now.
Oooh, if you’re washing the floors we should reorganize the downstairs!
Which reminds me, B has SO MANY toys right now. We should donate some of them.
But she’d get upset, so we’ll have to do that during her nap.
You have sessions to edit, though. That should happen during naptime.
Oh yeah, editing. You know it’d be great to get through all of them during naptime.
Yeah, you could probably do that!
Get the picture? My mind wanders and before i know it, twenty minutes has passed and I have a totally unachievable to-do list.
I have a hard time believing that I’m the only one who struggles with this problem.
So, I thought I would share a few tips that I’ve found about efficient and effective goal setting! Interestingly enough, when I searched “goal setting” on pinterest, there were an overwhelming amount of pins about the “SMART” method: Smart, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Bound.
Makes sense, right? While I agree with the above, I can only realistically remember three things at a time, so I would narrow it down to my favorite three:
Measurable: When coming up with your goals, make sure that they are measurable. That will help make them less ambiguous. For example, planning to do TWO loads of laundry versus just “do laundry” would be a measurable goal for me. Yes this might be simple, but I’m just making examples here so bear with me.
Attainable: This is a big one for me and might be a big one for you. Be realistic with yourself in what you can really, truly accomplish. While I would love to edit all the sessions on my plate right now, I also know there is no way I’m going to be able to do that with both girls around. Whatever goal you are trying to accomplish, do some soul searching and be real with yourself. You may have heard the term “stretch goal” (especially if you’re in the work force)…where it might be more difficult to achieve a certain goal but still possible. The key is that it is still possible. Yes, some other things might need to be sacrificed to make it happen but you can still do it.
Time Bound: Give yourself a time limit. For me, I make goals/to-do’s on a daily basis. Only recently did I come up with a list for goals for the month of November. Whatever your situation is, make sure you set a reasonable time frame for yourself to accomplish those goals.
A couple of other things I’ve learned over the years:
WRITE THEM DOWN. If your goals are not written down, they might be easily changed or forgotten. Write down your goals so you can stick to them.
Don’t forget to give yourself grace. It’s okay if your goals change or if you decide you need more time to complete them. At the end of the day, your goals are for YOU. Do what you need to to make yourself happy.
What are your thoughts? Do you have any tips for setting goals? We’d love to hear them! Feel free to leave us a comment below!