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!


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!

Reflections, PowerSheets, & Videos – OH MY!


Reflection isn’t easy. Quite frankly, I’m not sure that I would have been able to do it without the guidance of an outside source. The first day of my holiday break included a couple of hours concentrated time with my 2017 PowerSheets. While I was excited by the prospect of this beautiful new item sitting in front of me, I wasn’t sure what I was going to write or if I would be engaged in the process. One page in and I was hooked. I was so engaged that I decided the preparation stage would have to be done in shifts, there was no way I could complete the entire section in a single evening. At this point, four days later, I am finishing up my reflection on 2016 and looking forward to getting started on goal setting.

The 5 Stages of Reflection are not concrete; they are fluid and can shift if you allow them. Here’s a refresher from the first post in this series!

  1. Prepare for Reflection
  2. 2016 Reflection
  3. Identify the Strengths & Challenges of 2016
  4. Determine Opportunities for Growth
  5. Develop Goals & Action Plans

While the preparation phase was a little more straight forward, reflection has been a winding road stopping, multiple times at numbers 2 – 4. Reflection requires identification of strengths and challenges, which will breed opportunities for growth. As I have completed the different phases of the 2017 PowerSheets I have gone back and forth through these steps like a pinball machine. Next up: Finishing up my reflection so I can develop some goals.

All week I have been trying to determine what would be the best way to share my progress with my 2016 reflection with you. Writing, pictures, Instagram posts, videos – I’ve tried them all. Finally, I decided to jump force myself outside of my comfort zone and post a video, taking you on a tour of my progress thus far.

The video is amateur, not of great quality, too long, I say um… WAY too many times, Bruno barks in the background, and I trip over myself, but you know what? That’s me! I like to have conversations with people, to share using both my ability to write and my ability to communicate verbally —> here I go again, reminding myself that MESSY IS BEAUTIFUL and that we are striving for PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION!

PowerSheets or no PowerSheets, I hope that you are taking time to reflect on your year and looking forward to a productive and intentional 2017 – whatever that might mean for you. Stop by Instagram and let me know how your reflections are going!

Stay tuned in the coming weeks as I make progress toward setting some 2017 goals!

5 Stages of Reflection: PREP!


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?