As an engineer, community and social media manager, mama, and, well, person, I know the power of setting goals, but I also know that the true potential of this is only realized if it’s done properly, and in my experience it rarely is.
My experience has taught me that setting powerful, life changing goals is f-ing hard. It requires that my goals never be reduced to random tasks where I lose sight of the real importance of those tasks – creating a bigger change. And if those tasks are wrapped in words that make them feel like goals with hints of being specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and time-bound (SMART), that alone isn’t enough because it doesn’t guarantee that this goal is tied to the bigger picture for me – Who is it that I want to become?
Just so I’m being clear here, I’m not saying that goals like “I want to run a sub-7 minute mile by next year” are bad goals; not at all! What I mean is that if that reaching that goal doesn’t bring me to a better place in my life, if it doesn’t make me into the person I want to be, then it’s not the type of goal that I’m going to put in my plan. It may help me as a 2nd or 3rd tier type of a goal, but it’s not my MO for 2015.
This year I’m going to try something new because I want to purposefully move towards something big. In 2015 I’m going to decide who I want to be when I grow up (about time seeing as I’m 32, haha) and craft some goals to help me become that person. At the end of 2015, I want to look back and know that the idea of the person I want to be and who I am today? They’ve converged.
In this post I’m going to walk you through the first part of my steps for goal setting this year and if it resonates, awesome! Download these 4 worksheets for the steps in Part 1 (Step 1 / Steps 2 & 3 / Step 4 / Step 5) and follow along!
Step 1: Why are you doing this?
I needed to state why I felt that this goal was worth it. What about this goal is going to make me stick with it? What’s the lure? The driving force? Why am I doing this?
For me it’s simple: I have 1 life and I want to live it in the light, with my friends and loved ones, doing things that fulfill me. I want to wake up everyday and know deep down that during the course of that day I will do things, big and small, that will make someone’s life better. I want to realize my potential, and I believe the only way to do that is by being focused, accountable, and aware of who I want to be and the steps involved in getting there. But really, I know that by focusing on myself at this level, I’m enabling myself to achieve the things I normally slap down on my goal sheets: becoming an amazing mom, a supportive and real friend, a great coworker, etc. For me to be excellent in all of the roles I play in my life, I need to work on me.
What about you? Why are you doing this?
Step 2: List the characteristics of the person you want to be
Who is this person I am working to become? What type of person is she? If someone were to describe her, what characteristics might they note?
When you’re coming up with this list, it’s important to be, first and foremost, honest with yourself! Don’t hold back! Putting something on the list doesn’t mean that you don’t have an ounce of this trait already (you may have an abundance!) or that you aren’t already parts of this person you’re describing. Putting words on this list indicates absolutely nothing negative, it is simply an expression that this trait or characteristic is something you value, that you see it as being a key attribute of the person you want to work to become.
I started part 2 by creating a new google doc and typing into a gloriously empty page. Just letting it flow, one thing at a time. The words that populated the resulting list (below) are a good set of characteristics I’d like to be associated with. They’re the things I want to be truths. The connections I want to have and create in my life require me to work towards being these things. I’ve included my list here to give you an idea (and provide myself with some accountability!).
- Financially secure
Step 3: Be specific
Next I wanted to be specific about what I meant by each of these words on my list. Words are funny things – they are great tools for communication only when their meaning is shared and understood. Ambiguity is a loophole. Your goals don’t have an out clause, so you need to guarantee that the essence of what you truly meant by any of the things above is captured. You want to be clear about your intentions and your vision. This person you want to become needs to be carefully considered and described. I think you’re worth the extra time it takes, right? So take a minute or two and write out some clarifying statements about each trait you listed out in step 2. To illustrate this, I’ve decided to share a few of mine:
- Honest – not just in my interactions, but in my actions. In my life, my thoughts, and my heart. I want these things to be a reflection of truth and an openness to that truth ,whatever it may be.
- Inspired – by others, through actions, hope
- Kind – The golden rule: Be nice!!!
- Loving – I really believe that love is the answer. When you do things with love in your heart, it comes out. It spreads good vibes. It shows people that you’re sincere and you really do care; it tells them in no uncertain terms that they matter. Also being loving towards myself. Affording myself the same acceptance and love that I show my kids.
- Open – to new idea, change, and people. Open without the need or impulse to control or change.
- Courageous – associated with bravery. I want to be a person who really speaks their truth in the hard situations. When it’s painful and not easy. Somehow those times are always where it has the most power to make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Those opportunities shouldn’t be wasted.
Step 4: Let it out so you can move forward
Becoming this person isn’t as simple as running down a check-list everyday and ticking off tasks. You have to identify what mental patterns, fears, and other things are holding you back. Why haven’t you done those things you’ve always wanted to do? What secrets are eating you up? What are your time sinks? Basically, it’s time to come clean.
So now I’d like to ask you for a favor. If you do only one thing I suggest in this post, let it be this – Let it out.
All of those things that you’re scared of. That leave you feeling vulnerable or unworthy. You have to acknowledge their presence and own it so that you can begin to move on. You have to decide that the fear and gross feelings associated with whatever it is you’re holding inside are toxic and you are finished letting it eat away at your goals and hopes and dreams. It is not worth it anymore. You have to summon the courage up and choose to let out. To speak your truth. To be seen. To be vulnerable. Otherwise, no one will know you. Not even you. And without that, you can’t start down the path of becoming this person you want to be.
Deciding to be vulnerable and let this stuff out is a really hard choice to make. Trust me, I know. It’s super hard. But you can do it! To quote one of my favorite bloggers of all time, YOU can do hard things! WE can do hard things!
My suggestion here is to go all in. I suggest talking with someone. Really letting it out. Really being seen. Really starting to deal with it. Really seeing you, and sharing that person with someone else – declare to yourself and this other person that you’re committed.
I’m pretty insistent on this one, right? You might be wondering why, so here it is: It didn’t come to me in a dream or a fortune cookie. It came straight from a friend who recently pointed out to me that Lacey, this is important. He explained to me that I had a choice: yes. I could keep it in or I could share it, and that’s my choice. But why? Keeping it bottled up is allowing my fear to stop me from becoming who I know I want to be. If this secret and these feelings and baggage are eating me up then I already know that keeping it in isn’t a solution – it’s damaging! I’m optionally holding on to this burden, this heavy anchor, and so how can I be surprised that it’s holding me back from achieving all of these things? I can’t. And now I am stoked to say that I am in 100% agreement with this friend’s insights because I’m doing it and experiencing the changes it creates.
Step 5: Sign a contract with yourself
The formalism of signing a contract isn’t needed really, but I like it. I think that self-improvement and a goal like this is worthy of a contract so I made one (click the image below to be taken to a downloadable printable version).
Click. Download. Print. Write. Basically, sign up and commit to yourself.
I know that’s a lot to digest for one post, but I swear it’s the first step of an incredible journey. We’re talking ‘Ride of Your Life!’ stuff here. Deciding to work so that the person you are today and the one you aspire to be will eventually converge is brave. And meaningful. It’s huge.
Next week I’ll publish part 2 where I talk about charting the course but until then? Work on letting it out, brainstorming on your list, and give yourself a high-five for making yourself a priority. In the meantime, high-five yourself for making you a priority (really, do it!) and you can follow my progress and thoughts on ACEing2015 by heading over to Instagram.