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When was the last time you thought about setting some personal goals, Mama?
If you’re like many of us, your goals for yourself have probably fallen by the wayside. We get wrapped up in the busy-ness of motherhood–the 3 a.m. feedings, the piles of laundry, and the constant clutter–and we forget to dream. (And that’s all a goal is, right? A dream that you take focused steps to actually accomplish.)
Even as the kids get older and life slows down a bit, we still fail to set lofty goals for ourselves. We’re out of practice with thinking bigger. Rather than actively working towards the life of our dreams, we continue to settle for what life hands us. We continue to run on automatic pilot.
It’s time to change all that.
So how do you get started creating the life of your dreams? How do you shift each of those goals that are burning inside you from a little wish deep in your heart to a living, breathing accomplishment? (Especially when you’ve got little ones clamoring for your energy and attention?)
Although I won’t lie to you and tell you it’s easy, the process is pretty straightforward. Here are 10 steps you can follow to achieve your personal goals.
RELATED: 50+ Time Saving Tips for Busy Moms
Goal Setting for Moms Step 1: Decide
A goal begins as a dream and becomes the reality you create for yourself. It’s as simple and beautiful as that.
It’s time to spend a few minutes brainstorming so you can dig those dreams back out of the place where you buried them. As you’re deciding on a goal, think first about what your deepest aspirations and highest passions are. What feels like it’s left undone since you brought kids into the picture?
Ideally, the new goals you’re about to work towards will bring your life back into balance. Therefore, you’ll want to brainstorm goals that focus on each of the different areas of your life. Consider including family, mental, physical, financial, spiritual, and social goals on your list of things to tackle.
How do you know that you’ve hit on a great goal as you brainstorm? The best goals make you feel energized when you think about them. They put a smile on your face and a fire in your belly.
Make sure your goals are SMART
Since the 1980s, productivity gurus have recommended we use the SMART goals framework when we’re setting goals. Although everybody agreed that SMART was a cool acronym, they haven’t always agreed on what the letters stand for.
The SMART acronym has stood for all sorts of characteristics of worthy goals over the years. Today, we’re using the words below to fill out our acronym. The best goals are:
- Specific: smart goals target a clearly defined area for improvement. What, exactly, do you want to do?
- Measurable: they have a clear way to determine when milestones have been reached and when the goal itself has been achieved.
- Attainable: smart goals are significant in their complexity, but not impossible to accomplish. They also focus on things you can control rather than things that rely on others.
- Realistic: smart goals fit into your current life, even if they stretch it a bit.
- Time-bound: your goal should have a target date when it will be achieved. You should also have a clear picture of what progress will look like in one month, six months, or one year.
Step 2: Write the Goal Down
Look over the list of things you’ve brainstormed, and pull out a few goals that really speak to you. Look critically at each goal you’re considering to make sure it passes the SMART test (see box above).
If it passes the test, it’s time to write your goal down. Write it out in positive language (I want to adopt a healthier diet) rather than negative (I want to stop eating so much junk).
You’ll be looking at this goal constantly until it’s accomplished. Consider making it beautiful and hanging it up somewhere special.
Goal Setting for Moms Step 3: Tell Someone
Now that you’ve chosen a goal and written it down, it’s time to share your goal with somebody else.
This step feels terrifying, because we risk failing in front of another person. There’s a safety in keeping our goals to ourselves. If I toss out my New Year’s Resolution on January 17th, at least no one but me knows that I quit. If I work my butt off to accomplish something important to me and then I fail, at least I don’t have to be embarrassed on top of my disappointment.
As hard as it is, though, I urge you to let yourself be vulnerable enough to make your goals public. Trust other people to hold you accountable and to be your cheering section. Don’t be afraid of connecting with others in the service of your personal growth.
Want some help setting your goals for 2020? Join the Selfish Moms Club for our January session. We’ll be walking through the process of goal-setting together and providing a supportive community to help each other on the path to achieving our goals. Click here to read more about the Club.
Step 4: Break It Into Steps
Ok, so you’ve chosen a goal, written it down, and told a friend to hold you accountable. Now it’s time to figure out the path you’ll take to accomplish it.
The path from your current reality to the achievement of your goals is made up of a collection of little tasks. If you don’t know what those little tasks are (or at least what some of those little tasks are) you haven’t converted your dream to a goal yet.
A goal requires action.
What are you going to DO to make this goal a reality? Come up with a list of tasks, or at least the very first task. Like your SMART goal, your tasks should have a deadline for when they will be completed and a way to measure when they are done. If you can’t quantify either of these things, your tasks are too vague and need to be broken down further.
Goal Setting for Moms Step 5: Identify Roadblocks
Any worthy goal will have some factors that make achieving it seem a little more difficult. Some of these are external, like a lack of money or time. Some of them are internal, like a lack of confidence or willpower.
Before you start, give some thought to some of the obstacles you might encounter along the path to achieving your goal. Consider how you will overcome those challenges.
Perhaps you know, for instance, that achieving your goal will require lots of focused, quiet time (which all us moms know can be really tricky to find with kids in the house). Identifying this obstacle in advance will help you make a plan for when you’ll find quiet time. Maybe you’ll need to wake up daily two hours before everyone else, exchange babysitting with a neighbor for a few hours a week, or enroll the kids in a drop-off playgroup or class.
Set up a plan for how you’ll overcome inevitable roadblocks now, while you are excited and hopeful. This will give you one less reason to quit when you’re tired of walking the path towards your goal.
Step 6: Visualize
This step can feel a little cheesy, but neuroscientists agree, it works wonders. Spend some time visualizing the way you will feel once you’ve accomplished your goal. This visualization helps your brain start to feel success. Don’t stop there, though. Picture yourself during every step of the way—working hard and overcoming obstacles.
You should practice this visualization not just at the beginning, but throughout the process of working on your goal. Why? It’s not only because of the psychological boost. Visualizing achieving your goals keeps those goals at the forefront of your mind and allows opportunities to meet those goals to be more obvious when they appear.
Goal Setting for Moms Step 7: Get Started
We’ve done a lot of prep work, but now is the time to act. You are not dealing in the realm of dreams anymore. You have a goal now. You know what you want to do and how you’re going to do it. There is no excuse for not getting it done.
Get to work on the first task associated with your goal TODAY to make your dream a reality. There is no reason to put things off until next week or next month. No matter how busy you are or how far off the goal may seem, you have it within you to take the first tiny step. Think about how awesome you will feel later when the first task is done.
Step 8: Keep Going
There is a lot of excitement at the start of any project. No matter how many roadblocks we visualize, we still mostly see the potential and the thrill involved. Goals get tougher as you live with them awhile, though. Maybe you’ve tried a few things that haven’t worked. Perhaps the goal requires more steps than you expected.
Now is the time to keep going. To view your challenges as learning experiences. Hopefully, the goal you’ve chosen is a worthy one that still has pull for you, even when you don’t really feel like working towards it.
In the moments that your commitment to your goal really starts to waver, go back to your ‘why’. Why did you want to accomplish this goal in the first place? Why will your life be better once you’ve accomplished this feat?
Goal Setting for Moms Step 9: Review
Your goals will require constant attention is order to move from dream to accomplishment. I like to read my written goals when I wake up in the morning to remind myself of the big picture as my day is getting started. At bedtime, I review the goals again, reflecting on what I’ve done that day to move them closer to completion.
When a goal is accomplished, I move it to my ‘accomplished goals’ list. Sometimes, it can feel like I’m always an unfinished work in progress with a long way to go towards being successful. Reviewing the list of all I’ve done already makes me feel much more positive.
As you’re working on your goal, you should also regularly review how things are going. Does this goal still align with your purpose? If not, can the goal be tweaked, or do you need to move onto an entirely new one?
Although you don’t want to quit working on a goal that still holds meaning for you just because the process gets hard, there’s little benefit to continuing to toil towards a goal that no longer serves you. You just need to be honest enough with yourself to know which is which.
Step 10: Celebrate and Reward
Working towards your goals shouldn’t just be about all work and no play. Make time in your journey to celebrate your accomplishments. Set stops along the way so that an impossibly large goal has smaller milestones to celebrate.
As I mentioned above, keep a list of your successes to help you build momentum and to give you a boost when you’re feeling low.
Following the steps above will give you a roadmap towards transforming those dreams that have been burning in your heart into a concrete list of accomplishments you can be proud of.
Mama, don’t waste one more day living a life that is running on automatic pilot. Get to work creating the life of your dreams.
You got this.
Want some help setting your goals for 2020? Join the Selfish Moms Club for our January session. We’ll be walking through the process of goal-setting together and providing a supportive community to help eachother on the path to achieving our goals. Click here to read more about the Club.