A Few Goal-Setting Tips to Start the Year Off Right
This past year, my friend Anna and I started a group called “Focus Group.” The idea was to get a group of women together once a month to talk about our vision for the year, our specific goals, and our progress on them: basically a goal-setting accountability group. I honestly don’t think Pace & Pattern would have happened without the encouragement and feedback I got from this lovely group of ladies.
This group hasn’t been just about career goals, or getting fit, or going on dates (although all of those have been part of it). Really, it hasn’t been about what we have or haven’t accomplished at all. It’s been more about taking time once a month to get cozy, drink tea/wine/cider, eat some treats, and talk about what’s happening in our lives from a proactive point of view. It’s not about feeling guilty about what didn’t happen as much as about celebrating what did happen and pushing one another to keep going even when we get discouraged.
Being in Focus Group has taught me a few revolutionary helps for my goal-setting.
Set WAY fewer goals.
When the group first started, we were pumped and ready to jump in. January arrived and there was so much excitement and energy that almost everyone in the group had at least five goals they wanted to accomplish that first month (I think I had 7). Then February rolled around, and everyone went around the circle and shared the word they would use to summarize how they were feeling.
The word “discouraged” came up multiple times.
By far the hardest lesson to learn was to let go of the idea that I can fix everything I don’t like about my life all at once. I only have the ability (and the other women did too) to purposefully reorient my life around a couple of changes at once. I learned to just focus on a very limited set of goals for a few months.
Anna had the idea to start each meeting with each of us writing down two “wins” from the month on small pieces of paper, sharing them with the group, and tossing them in a “win tin.” Celebrating the good things that have happened first is a great way to remember that good is happening: our work can lead to change. It also pulls your attention away from guilt and feeling blah about all the things you didn’t do perfectly, so you can move on.
Extra note: at our last meeting of 2016, we pulled all our written-down wins from the tin and read them out loud. It was amazing to see those tangible reminders of what we actually managed to accomplish in the year!
It’s about the process.
I mean it when I say Focus Group hasn’t been about what we have or haven’t accomplished. Things don’t always go as planned: knee injuries happen; babies are colicky; maybe it turns out that you just aren’t a morning person, and that’s okay. The process of pulling back and thinking about my life from a proactive standpoint has in itself helped me see more actual change, as well as helping me stay patient when I’m slogging through the day-to-day.