Photo by Markus Winkler on Unsplash
The holidays are my favorite time of the year. Not just because of the festivities, the presents, the special times with loved ones. I also enjoy the holidays because it’s the opportunity to start a new year. Fresh beginnings, hopes for the future, a chance to hit reset. Collectively throughout the world, people’s hearts are light with hope their dreams will come true in the new year. It’s such a good feeling, and in the midst of a continued pandemic, people are looking for good feelings, and positive ways forward. Which is why today I want to talk about how to set goals.
Feelings and thoughts of positivity have a lot more to do with goal setting than they have been given credit for. It’s part of setting yourself up for good emotional health. I’ve been through some ups and downs, trying to find what would be fulfilling. If I had paid more attention to how some of these things made me FEEL, I may have saved some time, some effort, some heartache. All of my experiences, and they have been VERY diverse, have led me to where I am now. I’ve made some wrong turns, though I’ve figured out where I am meant to be. And that’s a great thing, because it means I’m now paying attention to how things make me FEEL.
And I’ve never crushed my goals harder.
You and I both know that the realization of our dreams take work. And sometimes, it’s even hard to know where to start with that work. In order to get where one wants to go, a road map is necessary. So how do we obtain that road map? That’s where acknowledging your feelings during the process of goal setting comes in.
My goal setting work involves more reflection on feelings than one might think. Timelines are great, though life is dynamic. Situations change, and your goals must evolve to reflect those situations, and how they make you feel.
How to Set Goals
How Do You Want to Feel?
Take a long view approach. Just because we achieve a goal doesn’t mean it’s going to make us happy. What would feeling “happy” look like to you? Does it mean eliminating certain activities, or people, out of your life? Does it mean more time engaging in certain activities, or more time to rest? Really spend some time thinking about this, because this will drive the goals you set for yourself. How did you spend your time this past year? How did those things make you feel? Do you yearn for a slower paced life, or do you wish you had more going on?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you may know I was a former model. As a little girl, I loved reading fashion magazines and learning all the names of the models in the runways shows and editorial shoots. When modeling became a viable career opportunity for me, and allowed for travel all over the world, I thought that would make me happy. It didn’t.
Sure I wanted to travel, loved being in the fashion world, and the “idea” of being a model looked good on paper. But these things didn’t make me happy because they didn’t align with the essence of who I was as a person. I am very goal driven, and an introvert in many ways. Particularly in the ’90s and early 2000’s, the modeling industry was based on one thing and one thing only, the model’s look. Personality and work ethic often had nothing to do with one’s level of success.
Time went by. I grew and learned. Maybe I would have been more fulfilled as a magazine writer, or in a clothing brand’s marketing department, rather than be a model. I got married and had children. Being in Milan away from my daughter for weeks on end was one of the hardest things I ever did in my life. The life of a model is tough. You never know when you are going to have to be out of town, and heading to auditions can be a waste of time if you don’t book the job. So I quit modeling beyond my local Boston/NYC region, and started a style blog. I could travel on my own terms with my family, still be involved in the fashion world to some extent, and create my own schedule. I could work toward my own goals.
What Would Your Ideal Outcome Be?
Think about where you want to be in ten years. Not one, not five, a good solid ten years out. The choices you make now will have an influence on where you end up. But no pressure, these choices, and resulting outcomes, can always be changed. I’ve gone from model to health care consultant, back to model, to mom, to blogger. More on that to follow.
Most of us have experienced a change in college major, job, or career path, even in long-term relationships or marriages. And if you haven’t it’s likely you will. So spend some time thinking about where you want to end up, though know as you learn and experience, things can change.
Tinker with Time
Most of us have thought, if only I had more time for “x”, I could make it happen. Many times, a shortage of time is seemingly the biggest obstacle in realizing our goals. One way of getting around this is to group your daily activities into categories or write down how you spend your time. Then you can take a look at which activities are not serving you in the achievement of your goals or happiness. Reduce, eliminate, or outsource tasks that take away from what matters. Whether your goal is to write a book or spend more time with your kids, there must be even 30 minutes you can eliminate from one task, or several combined tasks, to allocate to the activity that matters more to you. This takes me the next point.
Create a Balance with Subtle Tweaks
There are some days I wish I could just simply focus on work nonstop for a week. That can’t happen for me though because I’m a married mother with a family that depends on me. And I know from my experience as a model how sad I feel when I’m away from my family for even a short while. Balance is key. No matter how passionate you are about your goals, if you don’t find the time to address all the necessary areas in your life, something important will suffer. That could even be your health.
I’m a huge bookworm, and if I don’t have the chance to read everyday, I get cranky. I’ve realized that in order to devote time to my family and business, I won’t have as much time to read. I’ve accepted it. My priority is first being a wife and mother, then follows my business as a full-time blogger and content creator. The mental and physical health of our family is also of great importance. I have found a couple of ways to sneak in a little reading each day though. In our house “quiet time” could also be considered “mommy wants to read time”.
My husband and I think it’s healthy for our young daughters to have a little downtime each day to sit quietly in their rooms, either reading themselves, or engaging in another quiet activity. As most moms are probably saying at this point, and I can relate, there are many days when there is no way that is going to happen! So on those chaotic days, I turn off the TV about 15 minutes earlier than usual to hop into bed and read before my exhaustion puts me out for the night. Reading is a mental escape for me. As a content creator, after being on social media for hours each day, I need that escape for my health.
How could you tweak a few minutes each day, here and there, to find time for the things that keep you happy and healthy?
Enjoy the Journey
Life can be hard sometimes, let’s not sugarcoat it. Each of us has unique situations that create stress in our lives. Maybe now more than ever. Be sure to schedule time to decompress each week. A healthy body and mind will get you much further in achieving your goals than burning the midnight oil and having a breakdown. As someone who has come close to burnout herself, I’ll share a story with you.
In my mid-20’s I decided to stop modeling, which ended up being a six year break, in order to pursue a Bachelor of Science in Health Care Management. The health care field has always intrigued me, as does business. Putting some thought into a stable and long term career path, I decided to attend California State University Long Beach’s Health Care Administration program, which is one of the top ten in the country. At the same time, I decided to complete a volunteer clinical internship program at a nearby hospital so I could get an understanding of how the hospital environment worked. It was important to learn the different roles of hospital staff. When a job opening at the health care consulting company that ran the internship program came up, I applied for the job and got it.
Now I was working a 50 hour a week job and going to university full-time. Thankfully I had already finished the internship. I completed a four year degree, with a minor in Human Resources, in three and a half years WHILE working a 50 hour a week job. There were many evenings I called my parents in Canada, crying to them, doubting if I could continue. I was a full-fledged resident of burnout city. I missed out on many of the typical college experiences. I just couldn’t spare the time.
Positivity, Not Perfection
Why did I feel the need to work so hard, to finish four and a half years of college in three and a half years, with a 3.9GPA no less? Maybe it was the type A in me, maybe it was the feeling of being “behind” because I started college later in life. A lot of it was because I was eager to begin the next phase of career building. Looking back, I wish I had taken the time to enjoy those years a little more. I don’t regret my achievements. I’m proud of what a hard working, disciplined person I am. Though a life regret I do have is that I wish I had taken more time to enjoy the college experience. And taken better care of my health during that time.
Be positive about what you accomplish each day, no matter how small. Busy mama? Celebrate the fact that you were there for your children, what an accomplishment! I mean that, truly, think of what a beautiful thing that is. Maybe you got one load of laundry done during the day. Icing on the cake!
Check in with Yourself
How are the activities you are engaging in helping you to get closer to your goals? Did you learn something new that caused you to take a different approach, or helped you to become more productive? Did you decide to alter your goals? Maybe you realized certain aspects in the pursuit of your goals were making you unhappy, or causing a major imbalance in your life? Don’t wait until the next new year rolls around to reassess your efforts. Set one day aside a month to think about your routines, both in your work and daily life. How you can improve them to be more efficient, or more pleasurable? If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’re more likely to stick with it, and succeed in reaching your goals.
Do you see how feelings can be connected to goal setting? Do you have any extra advice on how to set goals? Let me know in a comment below!