Ep 53: Goal Setting + Creating Positive Change
It’s the time of year when many of us are taking time to think and reflect - both on the year that is ending and on the year about to begin. Today I want to walk you through the process that I use at the end of the year goal setting and dreaming big about the year ahead of me.
Like I mentioned last week, I have a great tool that has been so helpful in my life, and that is my Nourished Planner.
This episode is sponsored by Nourished Planner, and I encourage you to check them out at nutritionredefined.co/planner. I’m also excited to announce that Nourished Planner and I teamed up for a giveaway for today’s episode! I’m giving away the 8.5 x 10” size planner, the one that I use, to one podcast listener.
So here’s how to enter the giveaway: you go to iTunes and leave a review. If you have an iPhone, this will be easy for you. For those of you that don’t (like me - Android for life over here), the other option is to head over to the link in my Instagram profile that’s labeled “Leave a podcast review in iTunes” from your computer, create an account, and leave a review that way. It’s a little more complicated, but there it is.
The reason podcasters ask for reviews is because it helps the podcast grow, be shown to more people, and expand the possible reach. So leave a review in whatever way you want. I want to hear how this podcast has affected you, what you’ve learned, what you think - anything. Go to iTunes and leave a review.
Also, and this isn’t something I can track but it is something I would so appreciate it and you can think of it as your Christmas gift to me - tell a friend about the podcast. Word of mouth and personal recommendations are actually the BEST way to support the podcast, and I appreciate more than I can say when you do that. And I know you do - I get so many notes and messages from people who say they found the podcast through a friend’s recommendation, or someone saying they love the podcast and they tell everyone about it. So again, that’s not something I can require for the giveaway, but it is something I would greatly appreciate.
This giveaway ends Tue Jan 1st so I can announce the winner in my first episode of 2019 on Jan. 2nd. So go leave a review on iTunes, and I’ll choose a winner from the reviews left between Dec. 26th - Jan. 2nd.
If you’ve already left a review, thank you and I love you, but to enter this giveaway you’ll need to leave a new one. :) And also, you can of course just get a planner on your own by going to nutritionredefined.co/planner and using the code NUTRITIONREDEFINED (all caps) to get 15% off and $5 flat-rate shipping. Can’t wait to choose a winner next week, and thank you in advance!
So the time between Christmas and New Year is, for me, historically, a little depressing. In years past, I’ve spent much of that weird time of year moping a bit, feeling a little off, a little down. Sad that Christmas is over and feeling this weird gap before New Year - I used to feel like that was just a waste of a week and wanted to put Christmas and New Year on the same day to skip all that time.
But now, I have a different perspective, because I use that time more intentionally. Those days after Christmas and before New Year are, for me, a time of reflecting and planning. Celebrating what I’ve accomplished, and dreaming of what’s next for me. So I want to tell you how I do this, and then also give you some thoughts about creating positive change throughout the year.
Because heaven knows we don’t just set goals one time on Jan. 1 and then coast through the rest of the year - it takes continuous re-evaluation and checking in to see what’s working and brainstorming new and creative solutions to the problems that pop up throughout the year.
I love to take a big chunk of a day to myself to plan and set goals. Some of you may think instantly, “That’s impossible. I don’t have time for that.” But I challenge you to get creative. How could you create the space in your life to take a few-hour block to work toward your own best life? This isn’t selfish or wasted time - it’s a precious sacrifice of time that will pay huge dividends in the coming months. Maybe you could head to a coffee shop or a library for a few hours while a babysitter keeps the kids. Maybe you take some time at night when it’s quiet. Maybe you can only fit it in with other people (like your kids) around in the house but you do your best. Even if it’s just an hour - even if it’s sitting in the car on your way home from wherever you go for Christmas - take the time to plan.
I like to take at least 4 hours for this. Last year, I remember, it was throughout a slow Saturday afternoon. My kids were home, and they were watching a movie and playing with their toys. I was nearby - my office is basically in the middle of our home - but they were occupied and I was able to focus for several hours.
This year, I have a 5-hour chunk blocked off and have planned for them to be occupied and happy so I can focus. So that’s the first step, I guess, is to block off a chunk of time.
When I sit down, I first list out my biggest accomplishments of the closing year. I list everything I did that I’m proud of, that was awesome, that I feel good about. I might even look back at journal entries, pictures on my phone, Instagram posts, my calendar - wherever I keep a record of my life - to find those milestones and those important moments, and write them down. I love that in my Nourished Planner there are a few blank pages in each month to do this. I write this list at the close of my ending year planner. I take a little time to congratulate myself on a year well-lived to start, and that sets a really positive tone for my planning session.
Then, I choose a word for the year. My word for 2018 was LOVE. I think about what my word will be for weeks ahead of time and start to gather inspiration, but during this planning session is when I set it in stone. I even heard from someone that she gets her word engraved on a necklace each year, and I love that so much I think I might do it. I’ve been eyeing those Made by Mary necklaces for years, and I think that sounds like just the reason to go for it. :)
The word I choose embodies what I most want to feel, what I need, what my intention is for guiding my day-to-day decisions. With my year of LOVE, I would often ask myself when making a decision, “What feels most like love?”
For instance, if I was super grumpy and had planned to go to the gym and wasn’t feeling like it, I might ask myself, “What feels most like love?” Sometimes it might be opting out of my workout for the day and taking a hot bath or having the afternoon with my kids instead. Sometimes it might be deciding to go for a walk and enjoy the feeling of the sunshine on my skin. Sometimes it might be pushing myself to go do what I planned to do.
What I’ve learned is that love isn’t a black and white thing - it can change based on the circumstance. What might be loving in one situation (skipping the workout) might look different the next time when I decide love would be forcing myself to go and work the grumpiness out of my system. That was a great guide for me this year. I haven’t chosen my word for 2019 yet, but I’ll let you know next week what it is!
Once I’ve reflected on the closing year and chosen my word for the new year, I do a brain dump of everything I might want to accomplish this year. This is best done on a piece of scratch paper - I don’t do this in my planner because it’s a brainstorm. I write down anything I want. In years past I’ve had on my list “do a cartwheel” (I have yet to master that one because I’ve never put a plan in place to do it!), “write a novel” (I had a stuttering start this year that I plan to jumpstart again this next year), “become a certified yoga instructor” (again, this one has yet to happen), and “start a business” (check!). I might write down trips I’d love to take (for instance, Hawaii will be on my list for 2019), places I want to go, projects I want to work on - anything that may have been floating around in my head over the last little while as something I want to do.
Then I look at a year-at-a-glance calendar with all 12 months in front of me. My Nourished Planner has this right up front, but any year calendar will do. I look at things I’ve already committed to, things I know will happen (birthdays, family reunions, holidays, school breaks, business trips) and make sure I’m aware of the biggies. I put those dates in my planner AND my Google calendar.
With the knowledge of the big pillars of my year and my big list of dreams, I then start to narrow it down. What do I really want for this year? It’s a blank slate, and it’s so dang exciting! What sounds most fun and exciting to me? What would I want to look back on and think “2019 was the year of _____.” What feels manageable and yet challenging? What is realistic?
For instance, if I had the dream of opening a food truck, I would look a bit more closely at the feasibility of doing that in the immediate future. If I wanted to go to Hawaii, I might even look at airline tickets to get an idea of how much money I would need to earn and save to make that happen, and maybe even put some tentative dates, or at least pick a month, on my list. If I wanted to learn a new language or skill like hand-lettering, I might do some searching for a course or a list of materials or learn what I’d need to know to start. I do a little bit of narrowing down and pick a few things that sound fun. For instance, last year I had on my list “start a podcast, generate X$ of revenue through the year, and meditate regularly.”
I do set business goals as well, and those are, for the most part, more numbers-driven than my personal goals. As I look back at 2018, I’m very pleased with how I surpassed my goals, and I know that for 2019 I can plan to stretch myself a little further in the dream-big department. I’m capable of more than I think I am, and so are you. I look ahead at when I’ll be launching things - like opening the doors to my group coaching program, opening spots for 1:1 coaching, putting items in our online shop, things like that.
I get an idea of my big picture launch calendar, and then pencil in more specific strategy (like Instagram posts or emails to send) around that. I don’t always stick to this. As I look back at my launch plan and some of my goals for 2018, I just laugh, because it turned out almost NOTHING like I thought it would. Which is great, and that’s part of the process as well - learning to be comfortable with change and flexible to adapt to what does happen. I set income and revenue goals for my business, impact goals for how I want to make a difference in the world, and give my creativity a little time to wander.
This applies to life, as well - so I don’t want you to think that this planning session, or any goal-setting session, sets anything in stone for the entire year. I had no idea in January what this year would bring. We took a trip to Chile, which we didn’t know we would do. We didn’t know where we’d be living at this point, and we’re pleased to be able to still be here in San Antonio with my husband having left the Air Force and gotten a great new job that allows him to work from home (which is one of our life dreams come true). I didn’t know I would bring on a business partner and that my business would take that new direction with our group coaching membership. I didn’t know that I would do 2 in-person live workshops in CA and UT. I didn’t know how burned out I would get trying to do everything myself, and I didn’t know I would hire a small but mighty team of people to work for me. A lot of those are business-related, because that’s where I put almost all of my time and energy outside of my family, and I love it.
But my point is that you can’t foresee everything that will happen. You don’t know how you’re going to feel in a month or how your values might shift and change through the year. So this planning session is not to prevent those shifts, but to equip you and empower you to create what you want - what is most important to you - even knowing those shifts will happen. Even with the uncertainty of the future, this allows you to set your priorities, dream big, and make space in your life to do some of the things you’ve always wanted to do.
Now I don’t expect, and you probably shouldn’t either, for everything to be wrapped up nicely and ready to go in this one day. This time is more about dreaming and planning than working out all the kinks. You can definitely look ahead at things you foresee might be obstacles (like where you will buy that food truck, or who will babysit your kids when you go to Hawaii) but you don’t have to have all the details worked out in your planning session. The most important part of this is to create space to think big, to dream, to get excited about what you want to do. Not to book any plane tickets or sign any contracts.
You still have time to tweak, and you don’t have to be completely ready for every foreseeable issue by the time the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31st. Even, let’s say, that you’re listening to this episode NOT at the New Year. Maybe you were lucky enough to be traveling over the holiday season and you didn’t get time to plan your year before January, or even before March. It’s not too late! It’s never too late to start being more intentional with your life and your time.
Once that planning session is done, I’m ready to approach the year with positivity and excitement and thoughtful intention. But goal setting isn’t done. I continue to revisit this process regularly. In fact, I take a little bit of time (usually about an hour) at the end of every month (usually the last day or the last Sunday of the month) to check in. How are things going? How am I doing? What’s working? What’s not working?
One thing I love about the Nourished Planner is that each month has a theme with a one-page chunk of content about the topic and some action steps. There is a page each month with columns that say “What I can do more of” and “What I can do less of” and I absolutely LOVE that approach to positive change. It’s not “What I will never do again” or “what I will do every single day,” because often those types of commitments are easily broken. Things get in the way, and we are forced to choose adaptation to life’s circumstance over blind obedience to our original goal.
My goals usually don’t involve a daily or even weekly commitment, necessarily. I have tools in place already for my monthly and weekly goals, and I don’t worry too much about that in my yearly planning session. I don’t worry about “every single morning I’m going to get up at 5am and meditate.” Because I know that for me, right now, that’s not realistic. What’s more important to me is what happens more often than not, or what I choose most consistently.
I’m no longer interested in all or nothing, black and white, rigid goals. I’m more interested in setting goals that feel fun and flexible. Like “I want to take time every day to sit quietly.” I may want to get up at 5am to make that happen, and that’s fine, but for the inevitable days it won’t happen (because be honest, it won’t happen every day) then I still have all the flexibility in the world to fit in that meditation or quiet time later in the day and still feel successful.
While I’m on the topic of planning, let me say a few more things I love and use in the Nourished Planner. Each weekly spread (which I love) has spots for a daily meal plan, fitness tracker, appointments, and top 3 must-do list. Then there is plenty of blank white space for whatever. Because I use Google calendar to keep track of time-sensitive things like appointments and schedules, I use that blank space to jot down notes, brainstorm, ideas for things I want to do, quotes I hear from podcasts or books that I like, things my kids say, anything I want. I love having the room and the flexibility (there aren’t even lines to constrain me - it’s literally whatever I want!)
But I want to say a few things about meal planning and fitness tracking. Whether you join me and use the Nourished Planner or not, you may be looking to step up your meal planning or fitness efforts in 2019. Which is awesome! I think both of those things can be amazing self-care practices, and I love how my planner makes it easy to focus on.
BUT. I want to encourage you, with those goals and any other, not to get too caught in the all-or-nothing trap. To not allow planning tools to become obsessive. Like if you don’t get a workout in and you know the blank space in your planner’s fitness tracking space will be blank and you think that will make you look like a failure or feel guilty every time you see it...no.
Planners, goal setting, creating positive change - those things should not induce a shaming session, no matter what. Those are tools that serve YOU, not the other way around. You are not a slave to your planner or your calendar or your schedule or your goals. Those tools are yours to use when they are helpful and set aside if and when they are not.
There are weeks I don’t meal plan at all and I’m totally winging it and we’re eating random meals like bacon and smoothies. There are weeks when I rock it and plan and cook awesome meals. Either way, I’m good. (BTW, I’ll be talking about meal planning here on the podcast soon!)
There are weeks when I move my body every day and love it. There are weeks when it falls lower on my priority list for one reason or another, and I’m not able to move as often. Either way, I’m good. The point is to practice self-care - to take care of myself in the way I need to be taken care of in the moment. Not to stick to an arbitrary plan I made without regards to my current circumstances.
This isn’t making excuses for failure - this is being flexible and compassionate for myself and doing what matters most at the time. THAT is my highest priority and my biggest goal for myself - not making sure I follow through on every good intention I’ve ever had.
Now I want to share a few thoughts about setting goals in general, even throughout the year, and creating positive change in your life. This is a highly relevant topic all year long, so I hope this is helpful for you whenever you listen to this episode.
I believe that one important aspect of goal-setting is setting goals for success. If you want to create a change in your life, make it success-oriented. Here’s what I mean by that: Know yourself. Know your tendencies, your personality, and what you like. Take into account what you enjoy and your natural inclinations.
If you’ve set a goal every year for the past 5 years to run a marathon and you’ve never done it because you hate running, then don’t set that goal! If it doesn’t light you up and make you feel excited, don’t set it as a goal! Goals are about creating the life you want and becoming the person you want to be - not about forcing yourself to fit into some box you think would look like success.
Another tip about goals setting, along that line, is to make your goals meaningful to YOU. Don’t be persuaded by what you see on the internet that someone else is doing. Let your own values be your guide here. If you set a goal to radically alter your diet and only eat “healthy” foods but you actually hate vegetables and you haven’t cooked a meal at home in 3 years, that goal is not in line with your values and your preferences.
You don’t have to do something just because someone else thinks it’s the “right thing” to do or thinks that “everyone needs to do this in order to be happy.” You know what makes you happy. Those are the things you should be adding into your life - not what someone else tells you you must do.
Now, I want to issue you a challenge. Whether you set aside a planning day or not, listen up. I want to challenge you to make 2019 the year of no dieting. The year where you don’t set a goal to lose weight. The year where you throw out your scale.
I want to challenge you to throw out your scale, if you haven’t already, and to not allow it to have ANY part in your goal-setting process this year.
Set goals to help you grow, not goals that force you to shrink. Set goals around self-care instead of aesthetics. Set goals that help you FEEL amazing, not LOOK amazing. Set goals that may not have a hard line on them (like losing x number of pounds) but goals that are more meaningful and allow you to have a full life that you love (like nourishing your body in a way that helps you feel vibrant and energetic most of the time).
Weight loss goals are lame. Diets are lame. Let those things fall away. Don’t waste your energy there. Don’t spend your time on things that won’t bring lasting joy and peace.
Set goals and intentions that help you fall in love with your life, to see the bigger picture, to step outside yourself, to change the world in the way only you can.
I want to say how much I appreciate you being here and that I hope this podcast has impacted you in a positive way. I hope you take some time to plan your year, to dream big, to set goals that light you up, and to set some intentions for whatever positive change you want to create in your life for 2019.
Thank you so much for listening, have a fantastic New Year, and I’ll talk to you next week!