Looking back at 2017, it was a hard year for a lot of people. For me, I really struggled through the first year of Trump’s “presidency” and all the legislation and terrifying changes and tweets coming out of the United States. It really had an impact on me in the first two quarters of the year, and I don’t think I was prepared for it nor did I really make the room to process it. I’ve grown up in a time and in a country with relatively few scandals, in comparison to what has been happening with the US government this year. And I think that was a really jarring experience. Especially watching it from far away. I’ve felt like I’m missing out and like I should be a part of the “good fight” for kindness and to uplift those who are trodden upon. I also feel like I’ve really gotten a new perspective on some of the problems our country is facing. It’s amazing how different your perspective can be and truly is when you live outside of something that you also are deeply intertwined with.
All that being said, I am looking forward to 2018. There are many, many changes afoot for me both professionally and personally. It will be my first full year as a married woman. And this year, I want to share some of the goals and priorities and the process that I went through to figure out what was important so that I could make choices that align with what I truly want in my life. This is that guide, and I hope that you find it useful!
Step 1: Make a List Of What Is Important
My husband’s father passed away in 2017. My grandmother is in her late 90’s, and so is my husband’s. Our mothers are not getting any younger. Our nephews are growing up. Our cousins are moving on to newer and bigger things in their lives that we’re not able to be a huge part of because we are so far away. We are also not getting any younger, and we’re at a point where we should be very concerned with laying down a healthy pathway for ourselves (physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, etc.).
Schedule an hour with yourself and really think about and write down a list of the 5-10 things that are the most important to you in your life or that you want to put a premium on in the next year to two years. In my example, I wrote out things like:
- Work & Career
- Financial Planning
- Home & Keeping a Home
The biggest marker for me was that I’ve had a huge shift in what is at the top. Family is number 1. That really spoke to me when I thought about what I wanted in 2018 and this list of what is important to me and what I want to place an importance on in 2018 has really helped me to make big decisions and guide me in my goal-setting.
Step 2: Create an Action Ideas List. What do you want to do in those areas to support how important they are?
Once you lay out what is truly important to you, it’s time to define what about those areas you want to do more of to support them. I spent an additional 30 minutes on the top 3 “areas of importance” and listed out what I wanted to do to be sure I’m spending time on what is important to me in 2018. Here is an example of what I listed on my “Action Ideas List:”
- Spend more time with family & friends
- Have more coffee dates that are scheduled that I respect and don’t flake out on
- Increase time spent with people who make me laugh and who I leave feeling “filled up”
- Hold “lady teas” or “lady salons” at my house where we catch up but where we also have themed conversations about the world and its issues
- More outreach to friends that I want to be in touch with
- Spend time with my husband creating content together
Work & Career
- Reset and re-orient what I am doing in my career to follow a path that aims towards my ultimate goal of being a mega-boss / CEO
- Be sure that what I’m spending time on is holistic enough to feed my mind
- Spend more time creating content and creating my own personal brand
- Support Sean’s career and his goals in growing his own brand
- Give my husband space and specific time on the calendar to “shoot the breeze” and come up with plans for execution
- Bi-weekly meetings with husband to talk finances
- Lay down a set of solid “rules” that we can agree upon for finances and spending
- Agree on 5 year and 10 year goals
- Commit to learning more and empowering ourselves to be a financially sound and fruitful family
There is a HIGH chance that I won’t get all of this done. And I am trying to be realistic about that. But, in a perfect world, these are the types of things that I want and can do to support the areas of my life that are important to me.
Step 3: Set Goals to Actually Do What’s On Your Action Ideas List
What’s a list of what’s important and a list of action items if you don’t actually execute them, right? Well, one of the areas that I know I struggle with is that if I don’t plan out a specific time and space for things that are important to me I will either:
- Blow it off
- Forget to do it and regret it later
- Do it half-assed before I give up and go watch Netflix or YouTube
Just like I said above, there is a high risk that I will fail and that I will not actually execute a lot of the things on this list, but I am actively setting some dates and areas of focus on my calendar to try to propel myself forward. What types of things have I actually set as goals?
Short-Term Goals: Spirituality Goals Are Just Every Day Goals for Me
For me, even though spirituality is lower down on my list of what’s important to me, it’s actually something that I like to focus on to make the rest of my life work more smoothly. Turns out, maybe I should have this higher on my “importance list.” Either way, below are a few of the ways that I keep my mind focused and positive.
- A Motivational Word: I tend to “get shit done” when I start my day out right. For me, that means watching 10 minutes of a motivational (sometimes totally hokey and off topic) video on YouTube. Or, it means listening to a podcast on the bus. [2 of my favorite podcasts for getting me going are: Optimal Living Daily & Biz Chix: Women Entrepreneurs] I also recently started trying out this app Motivate that features a motivational video every day and sends you a reminder. They’re a little too sports-focused for my taste, but they do the job to remind me!
- Journaling: This one is so cliche but is so true. Journaling helps me dump out everything from the day before, process it, and then decide if I want to do anything about it today. It’s a great way for me to just pause on things and remind myself that I do not have to react to everything immediately.
- Meditation: I get WICKED bad migraines. They can sometimes take me out for more than 24 hours. One of the things I can do if I feel one coming on is 15 minutes of deep meditation. I use the Headspace app. Standard!
Medium-Term Goals: Family Goals Tend to Take More Time
For things that take more time and more mental energy to actually get started on, I really have to take a bigger picture look for myself and schedule these types of things out. Here are some examples:
- Send a Video to Grandma 1x month: I will actively look for and schedule some time on my calendar to record a little video, send it to my uncle on Facebook Messenger, and just say “Hi! I love you. Here are a few things going on with me!” to my Grandma. It makes a huge difference in her day, doesn’t take me much time to do, and it’s timezone friendly! Bonus points if I can do an actual VOIP call!
- Send an Update to the “Cousins Chat” on Whatsapp: I will commit to sending a monthly small update and “what’s going on with you” message in the cousins’ chat that’s going on with my husband’s amazing and numerous cousins and sisters group chat on Whatsapp.
- Quarterly Tea with Friends: I will schedule a quarterly tea with girlfriends. This one is a new one for me, and some of the teas can be at my house, but some of them will need to be somewhere that is more child-friendly. Cause so so many of my friends now have kids who are aged 5 and under!
- Daily Instagram Photoshoot with Husband: On the days that I go into the office and get dressed up in “real people” clothes, my husband and I pop outside just before I leave for the bus and snap a few photos. This keeps me built up with content for my Instagram, results in some great photos, and it’s a fun thing that we like to do together. We are always looking for somewhere new in the ‘hood to snap some pictures, too. (Bonus – it gets very night owl husband out of bed before 8:30AM!)
Long-Term Goals: Work & Career Are Really Longer Stretches that Require Regular Check-ins
- Check-in with Myself: I set some time on the calendar quarterly to just check-in with myself on how I think I’m doing. I ask myself questions like:
- Am I enjoying this?
- Am I learning things?
- Who do I want to learn more from within the organization? Outside the organization?
- What other areas do I need to improve in or am I curious about?
- Reward Myself for Reaching Content Creation Goals: Creating content isn’t necessarily hard, it just takes time and focus to really get it done regularly. So, I find that if I reward myself for creating content that actually gets to completion, I am way more driven to actually complete it. I’ll lay out my reward system below!
Step 4: Reward Yourself.
One of the ways that I prevent myself from blowing off my to-dos and my goals is to set up a reward system for myself.
Because I know that in the area of my financial goals, I want to buy less material items when I’m feeling stressed or bored. And I want to use up the nice things that I’ve bought that I am often “saving for a special occasion” that just never freaking arrives! So, every time I do one of my goals on my list, I reward myself with a dollar amount that can go into my “fun fund.” And weekly, I check on my goal completion and put that amount of money aside into the “fun fund.”
I’m currently trying to track my goal and habit completion using this super nifty app that gamifies goal completion called Habitica. The small problem I’m finding with it is that it has its own way of calculating achievement and is a little harder to map it back into my own fun fund plan. I hope that I can figure out how to make it work for me! My plan is to set aside time every Sunday to check it and tally the dollar amount on what I have achieved. I don’t have to get it “perfect,” but I want something that I look forward to and not something annoying.
How much do I set aside to reward myself?
- $1 – Every time I write out a gratitude list, proud list, and compassion list
- $5 – For exercise / yoga
- $1 – Journaling session
- $1 – Meditation
- $25 – Every trip to visit a family member
- $5 – Every lady’s tea achieved
- $20 – Every blog post
- $2 – Every finance meeting with husband
- $1 – Every Instagram post
- $20 – Every sales or marketing book read and analyzed
If I know that I can buy SHOES guilt-free (haha) and I’m paying myself, I am way more likely to get the things done on my list that are of importance to me. This is how I am setting my goals for 2018 and how I am setting up a system to reward myself, and I hope that it works! We’ll see at the end of 2018 how I did.