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New Methods for Goal Setting

Sunday, January 22, 2017
As my first post of the year I chose to focus on writing about expecting our first baby. The topic is a bit odd for a first post, of the year and of a new blog, but I had my reasons for doing it.

First, that’s what is continually on my mind these days. From researching registry items to reconfiguring our bedroom to finding personal ways to bond with Bunny I am constantly thinking about baby stuff!!! Getting my thoughts out about bonding with our baby girl helped limit the pressure that first of the year goal setting can cause.

Second, I didn’t want to write a typical “goal setting” blog post. This was especially true for me as this year came around. We’ve all been there. With so much to look forward to and get ready for in 2017 to I didn’t want to let the year get away from me. Thanks to some inspiration, education, and imagination I was able to find some new strategies to get the year going on a strong foot.

Setting Goals Using Psychology

One of the most difficult steps in goal setting is deciding what it is we want to accomplish. Looking ahead a whole year and visualizing changes can be too idealistic sometimes. The obvious answer is to brainstorm. But how do you get it all organized?

While thinking about motivation I remembered Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs from an Educational Psychology course I took a few years ago. I snagged an image of the pyramid from Google and worked through each level of the pyramid throwing out changes I wanted to see (i.e. physiological = getting more rest). Then I made up quantifiable goals for those changes (i.e. 7+ hours of sleep 4 nights a week). Eventually I was able to bring everything I wanted to accomplish this year under two main themes and point myself in one clear direction. Using the topics in the pyramid gave my goal selecting structure and also showed how a lot of my goals were related.

Planning Things Out In The Life Binder

I am slightly anxiety prone. The way I like to describe it is having a pen full of escaping puppies that I am trying to wrangle back in. I start to lose my cool as problems become unsolvable in the immediate future, then it all becomes stuck. Very little allows me to consolidate and reconcile every experience and possible scenarios of living. So when I came across the Life Binder from Michelle of The Secret Owl Society my heart skipped a beat.

Michelle has developed this idea of a binder filled with calendars, trackers, etc. that keep different spheres of life in organized and convenient place. Actually, Michelle’s whole blog is based on being organized for organization’s sake and she has tons of printables and tips for living your day-to-day with a little more sanity, such as mindmapping your to do lists or her take on choosing yearly resolutions. Brilliant.

You can get a pre-made version of the Life Binder from Michelle’s shop on Etsy or browse her blog and shop for inspiration to create your own. That’s what I’m doing right now with my own Life Binder tailored to exactly what I need for this year. I can’t wait to put it into action. As far as sanity goes this is one of the best finds ever as it keeps a physical manifestation of my brain together in one place. I spend about 30 minutes a day rummaging through it and checking on all my special tasks. And I spend about twice as long telling Spencer how much I love my binder as I cradle it in my arms...

Tracking Goals With Apps

Okay, now you’ve chosen your goals and written them down. The next step is to keep up with all those to dos. I’m a HUGE supporter of using your phone to the fullest. My phone has everything on it (more than social media I promise!) so a natural move for me was to find apps that would remind me to stay on top of things.

Wunderlist has been a good friend since my freelance social media days. The app is a to do lister’s dream with options to name different lists, set repeatable due dates and reminders, add subtasks for big projects, and stick a widget on your homescreen. The only problem I have with this app is that if an item doesn’t have a due date you can only see it in the assigned list. Still I am flipping through this baby and checking off tasks like it's my job. The cheery *ding* makes me feel so accomplished!

Incentive (Google Play Store) is a recent find that is focused on goals and their rewards. Choosing rewards for your goals is a great way to encourage results while working through goals.  Incentive gives you options to create goals with due dates then assign tasks and rewards, all of which can be given point values. The best part is the statistics which shows numbers like how often you check off your tasks or how many points you gain on a daily basis. The only downside to this app is that it doesn’t have notifications for when you’ve accomplished a specific goal or earned a certain reward. Also for those of us who aren’t so good at math, the number breakdowns for dividing task points can get tricky. Overall the app checked off more boxes for me than others and I went with it.

For more on choosing rewards that actually mean something, check out this post by Shelby from Little Coffee Fox. It has helped me a ton in choosing meaningful rewards.

Staying Motivated By Words

A trend in annual planning is choosing a Word of the Year. May I just say this doesn’t work for everyone? I tried that last year and talk about a crash and burn… My word was Memories. Even if I try I can barely think of two things worth leaving in a journal for my posterity - and this blog is about treating daily life like the gold at the end of a rainbow. The idea just didn’t stick. Spencer and I didn’t go hardly anywhere interesting or do much of anything different, and we sure weren’t trying to change that. A single word just wasn’t enough. No, a whole string of words has the potential to be more moving.

Don’t stop at a word to define your year. Choose an entire quote to get you through the next twelve months. Start with a single word to get your research going by looking for quotes with a certain theme. Explore the words of a person you admire, drawing from their wisdom. Make up your own daily affirmation that emphasizes what you’re looking forward to accomplishing. Either way you find it, make sure the expression you choose will empower you to fulfill your hopes and dreams this year.
One of my two phrases for the year showed up in an unlikely place (the agenda that the school I work at hands out to the staff and students each year) but the words did truly imprint on me.

“The best thing about the future is that it comes one day at a time.” Abraham Lincoln

Goodness knows I need to remember that with everything I've got planned this year!! I sincerely hope that 2017 takes its time and that I will be ready for it all. And I wish you all the best as you look forward in 2017. May you accomplish your goals and become a better you!
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