The Importance of Restructuring When Goals and the Real World Collide

when-goals-and-the-real-world-collideIt took less than two weeks into the month of January before I realized that my personal goals didn’t fit. They didn’t work with my day to day life and I wasn’t excited about them. The overall mission was still there, still igniting my motivation, and getting me pumped about the year ahead, but the daily grind was killing my smaller goals.

My initial reaction was disappointment. So much time was spent reflecting and crafting reasonable, exciting, and purposeful goals for myself – how was it that my daily, weekly, and monthly goals weren’t getting me closer to the finish line?

Okay – reality check: I know that it’s not realistic to expect progress in two weeks. But you should feel some sort of movement, right?

In late December, I started my reflection and planning process using the 2017 PowerSheets from Cultivate What Matters. You can read about that process, take a look into my brainstorming, and see my goals here.

Knowing what January had in store for Justin and I, goal setting seemed odd. How could I be planning for my year when I didn’t know what our life would look like post-transplant? I was anxious about setting myself up for failure, ultimately losing interest and not following through on this process for the next twelve months. I started small: on a day to day basis I wanted to walk 5,000 steps, track all of my eating in MyFitnessPal, clean at least one thing, reach out to one person, and track my gratitude for the day.

Working in an office, getting in 5,000 steps can be difficult, I found myself more annoyed with my hourly reminders (thanks, FitBit) than excited by them. I looked like a loon walking around a board room table as I facilitated meetings, and had the maintenance guy demanding I do laps around the cubicles in the office before I could use the restroom. I mean, it was fun, but jeez, it became the priority of my day. And still, I didn’t hit 5,000 ONCE.

Other than the incorporation of a higher step count into my day, the actual issue with my daily goals was TRACKING them. Going back at the end of the week didn’t work, how was I supposed to remember what I cleaned on Tuesday? My daily goals became something to add to my to-do list, and I already had enough things on that. My resentment began to build – not good. ::images of PowerSheets flying through the air::

In all of my reflection, planning, and goal setting, I missed a step. I didn’t plan for the restructure process – I just assumed I had gotten it right on the first try. Boy, was I wrong.

One evening when I was home on my own, I pulled out my PowerSheets and my favorite orange marker and went to town! I took notes, I made connections between my goals instead of looking at them individually, and added in another category for the year: CREATE.

In my haste to put all of my goals into neat packages (tied with a bow, of course), I forgot an important aspect of who I am – I like to create things. I like to write, doodle, color, develop images, take pictures, play with craft supplies, and try new things. My days should be filled with more than just a check list, it should include the things I love to do!

The once monochromatic goal pages of my PowerSheets booklet are now covered in orange notes and doodles inspiring me so much more than any black marker ever could. Even if it was a medium point flair pen.

lightbulb_tealA piece of advice, my little goal setter? Give yourself some grace and be satisfied with progress. Not everything is going to be perfect on the first try. Stop, reevaluate, build in realistic action steps, and always, always, always, remember to build in time to take care of yourself.

Turning Reflection into Everyday Goals

Shortly after I posted my last Five Stages of Reflection Series, I finished my work in the PowerSheets, identifying goals and a word for the year of 2017. I am not one to keep make new year resolutions, so I was still skeptical when thinking so broadly about the next 365 days. It’s easy to be motivated when you’re on a break from work and have the time to be thoughtful, intentional, and take care of yourself. Resolutions fall a part in the day to day of our lives. When the real world comes rolling in, it’s hard to maintain the energy that we once had on January 1st. But I pressed forward, determined to give my full effort to completing the PowerSheets.

As I went through my reflective notes and thought about the potential for the year ahead, I started to see pieces fall into place. The difference was, the pieces weren’t traditional goals about accomplishments and big ideas. My goals were about simplicity, my relationships with others, and finding happiness in everyday life. CONTENTMENT. I had spent so much time in 2016 feeling miserable and depressed that all I wanted out of my life was positive energy.

Once I started making all of the pieces fit, it became clear that I had found the path to my intentional year. Without hesitation, I selected my word of the year: CONTENT. Once I was committed to the word and the outlook for 2017, I started spreading the word on social media with both my personal community and my blogging community. The response was amazing. And, it turns out: I’m not the only one looking for contentment.

hygge-3In my efforts to share my new-found mission, another blogger commented on something I had posted: “Hygge! I’ve only discovered it recently.” – At first I thought she had misspelled hooray, maybe she commented on the wrong thread, or her phone autocorrected the word pineapple or something. When I took “hygge” to the Google machine I was pleasantly surprised to learn that it is actually a Danish word for finding contentment in everyday life. Amazing! Inspiration all the way from across the pond!

 

Determined to break CONTENTMENT (or HYGGE) down into tangible goals and tasks for the year, I started in on the details of what that looks like in the real world – in the thick of life. I broke down my goals into eight categories: Relationships, TCO Blog, Marriage, Faith, Self-Care, Health, Simplify, and Project: Transplant.The beauty of the PowerSheets? It took me through the same process that I would take my team through to develop goals, and I was none-the-wiser during the along the way. Bamboozled by the ease the process, I didn’t even realize this was the intention since the beginning. I’ve created meaningful, important, and attainable goals that have the ability to create lasting impact in my life. I’m not hustling hard for some crazy big goal; I’m just simply trying to live the most fulfilling life as myself. The epitome of Doing Me.

In an effort to maintain some accountability and to be completely transparent, I thought I would share January tending list with you!

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Each month your tending list is broken down into Monthly, Weekly, and Daily goals to help you make progress (not perfection) toward your overall mission. January is bound to be a personally challenging month for my family as we get closer to Justin’s transplant so I decided to keep it simple for the month – focusing on slow progress to get me in the habit of thinking about these things.

I’ve made some progress already on my daily goals, but much to my trying have yet to hit 5,000 steps a day. I live a relatively sedentary life, and even with incorporating intentional exercise I am still coming up short. While I am disappointed that I haven’t hit that daily goal yet, it was really eye-opening to see just how little I move throughout the day. My FitBit and I are going to be become BFFs over the next few weeks! Slow and steady – that’s how we’re going to win this race!

Goal setting is no stranger to early January, and whether you’re a resolution setter or not I want to hear about what your intentions are this year! Are you a goal setter? If not, why not? What is your vision for what 2017 will look like for you? Whether you are a repetitive goal setter or a new year pessimist I hope that your year brings you everything you need!

5 Stages of Reflection: PREP!

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The calm of the holiday season and the impending new year has inspired personal reflection over the last week. It’s been a constant as I’ve gone about my semi-regular routine, finishing up tasks in the office before break, shopping from my iPhone, wrapping gifts, cleaning out clutter, or just spending time on the couch by the light of the Christmas tree. I’ve even gone all the way back to 2014 in the blog and reread Adios 2014, HELLO 2015! a post I wrote at the end of 2014, thinking about moving away from a difficult year and into new opportunities.

I haven’t decided yet if knowing the challenges ahead of us, just on the other side of 2017, is helpful in setting my own personal expectations for the year or a burden. On one hand, I’d much rather know, it gives us time to prepare, but on the other there is so much unknown that comes with a bone marrow transplant that preparation is sometimes futile. It will come, in whatever form it comes, and we will have to be flexible as we make our way through the year. But, in true Emily fashion, a year of anticipated challenge will not stop me from pushing forward in becoming the individual I want to be.

Today is my last day in the office before our holiday break, I am lucky enough to have personal time off to be able to secure ten days to focus on myself, Justin, family, and what is to come in 2017. After today I will be putting myself through a reflection and goal setting process using Lara Casey’s PowerSheets, a gift I purchased for myself, after stalking their social media feeds for weeks.  PowerSheets are a guided goal setting process, designed and redesigned by the company Cultivate What Matters, to give people space to be reflective, intentional, and stay consistent throughout the year with their own personal goals.

The more that I think about WHAT I want to be in 2017, the more I reframe questions to myself about WHO I want to be. My ideal version of Emily, who is she and who is she to the people she interacts with? How can she be better to herself and those she loves?

I imagine preparing for 2017 will be an interesting and complex process, happening in FIVE different stages:

  1. Preparing for Reflection
  2. 2016 Reflection
  3. Identifying the Strengths & Challenges from 2016
  4. Determine Opportunities for Growth
  5. Develop Goals & Action Plans

2016 tested me in more ways than I could ever have imagined, in some cases I was proud of the person I presented to the world, and in others I saw opportunities for growth. It was an eye opening experience, and I am ready to take what 2016 was, reflect on it, and really think intentionally about what 2017 can be. I’ll be writing about it along the way, including taking you on a tour of the PowerSheets as I begin to dive into them.

Reflection and Goal Setting aren’t stagnant processes, but rather customizable for each individual. Tell me, how do you approach the new year and setting goals for yourself?

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Do YOU.

I am excited. Like, nerdy, giggling, clapping my hands at 5:30am excited!

I have been following some of my favorite blogs for years, longer than I have been writing myself. With the growth of social media my connection to those people has just grown exponentially. I look to them for inspiration, they keep me thinking big about TCO, and they push me to think outside of my comfort zone. But they also give me unrealistic expectations for who I want have to be in order to be engaging and create an online community as a blogger. For the last year I have been trying so desperately to fit into the mold my favorite bloggers have created, but here’s the thing:

I am not like them. And I have decided that’s okay.

I am not an accomplished photographer, or event planner, or creative entrepreneur. I don’t travel around the world and write about it on my MacBook Pro while taking perfectly curated photos of my life. However, if anyone wanted to remedy that MacBook Pro part, I wouldn’t be mad. I don’t walk around in my $50 leggings and shop at Target everyday. I don’t have kids or a perfectly girly workspace that I use.

I am me. I am a homebody, someone who enjoys my work in the nonprofit field, loves to be creative and write about my life. I am a wife, I married my best friend at the age of 25. I live in the same neighborhood I grew up in and enjoy spending my weekends on the couch binging on whatever Netflix show I am currently obsessed with. I can go days without getting out of my pajamas, and am comfortable with my flaws.

I am done perpetuating the idea that everything has to fit into a single mold to be beautiful or right, and I am most certainly done trying to make my life fit into a mold that doesn’t support who I am. Life is messy. Messy is beautiful. Messy is real. And that’s how I am moving forward – letting go of the 2016 version of myself, so desperately trying to make the wrong filter work for my life.

I am me, I am going to DO ME. I encourage each and every one of you to DO YOU! Do what makes you different, happy, and keeps you excited everyday as you move forward through your life. Be imperfect, be silly, be messy. Be YOU.

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In an effort to DO ME, I have been working behind the scenes for the last two months on some goals for The Corner Office Blog. I started with a domain name –> blogthecorneroffice.com. Next was a brand board and logo, custom images for posts, a defined mission and vision, a new blog template, about me page, and now…

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Instagram is, without a doubt, my favorite social media platform. I am a visual person and love that I can quickly scroll through images and stop on something that catches my eye. It feels so much more genuine than the 140 characters of Twitter and more direct than the overwhelming nature of Facebook. My aspirations to create an engaging community are big, I am excited about the progress made and the opportunities Instagram will create to create more connections.

Come visit me on Insta! Follow my account: @TCOBlog – use #TCODoYOU to show us the true, honest, unfiltered version of YOU! I am so excited for what’s next!

 

Competing Priorities

It has been a while. I hadn’t realized how long, I kept assuming it had only been a week. It’s been two. 

I have been stuck in this swirling headspace of wanting to do more. Wanting to redefine the brand of this blog, wanting to build my graphic design work, and find a way to meld all of the things that I want to do into a single mission. After spending the last two weeks thinking, brainstorming, planning, and doing research, I have determined the only thing I need is an endless bank account and a new laptop. No big deal. 

This discovery has left me feeling a little defeated, so I remained in my swirling head space, not really accomplishing anything, dreaming of how it COULD be. 

I had fully intended to go into last week thinking positively and like I could accomplish my goals. Then, on Monday morning, I went to my first doctor appointment in eight years. In eight years I had not gone to have an annual exam, and it wasn’t until I started noticing issues that I decided to go, despite the begging, pleading, and yelling of my closest friends and family. I went to a new doctor, in an office I had never been in before. I was nervous, not because I thought something awful was wrong with me, but because I had no idea what to expect. I answered the questions, told my eight year story, and went through the expected exam. My doctor wanted more information. She added 3 more items to my itinerary: an ultrasound, endometrial biopsy, and blood work. Previously, the most invasive procedure I’ve ever had while in a doctors office had been getting a vaccine or giving a urine sample.  The biopsy hit me like a ton of bricks, it was not what I had been expecting. 

“All signs are leading to polycystic ovarian syndrome. Do you know what that is?”  

No, I didn’t. She explained, but I wasn’t really following the details. Hormones, cysts, ovaries, acne, anxiety/depression, meds, low carb diet…

I got the gist, I had a hormonal imbalance that could be causing cysts to grow on my ovaries, effecting my cycle and instigating a series of side effects. I could go on medication immediately or try a low-carb diet to see if an impact can be made. I chose the latter. 

I left the office feeling overwhelmed, distracted, and in pain. Not exactly what I had been expecting. Throughout the day I talked with my friends, Justin, my Mom, sister, and aunt. Everyone was supportive, ready to help me push through the initial lifestyle change toward a new low-carb diet. The rest of the week was difficult, but with a ton of research, I found some strategies for eating within this new framework. It’s been hard, but there’s something about making this shift because you HAVE to compared to just wanting to make a change. Motivation can waver. Medical needs, typically, don’t. 

In a week that I thought I would be moving forward on my business and career goals, I had to shift my focus to my personal health. So, I stayed quiet. I wasn’t active on social media, I didn’t blog, I didn’t get out my big idea notebook, I went grocery shopping, I tracked food, tried new recipes, and created a framework for how this need can fit into our life. 

I’m not one to usually believe that “everything happens for a reason” but I’ll tell you what, I’m sure seeing connections between the events that lead me to the doctors office and what I know I needed: to focus on my own physical health. I refused to make it a priority in my life, but apparently life had a different plan.