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The Problem with Goal Setting

The Problem with Setting Goals

I hate goals.

I hate making them.

I hate the guilt of not completing them.

I hate the thought of goals.

To be honest, I believe in goals. I believe in working toward the things you want, whatever that may be. However, the journey often ends in detours on the way to your goal.

Or, in my case, complete failure, although I learn invaluable lessons along the way.

Goal Setting

Nearly everyone has heard of SMART goal setting:

S = Specific

M = Measurable

A = Attainable

R = Realistic

T = Timely

If you research how to set goals, this technique is often one of the first items that pop up. And, if this works for you, that’s fabulous. It doesn’t work for me.

Regardless of how much I set my mind to a specific goal, I never follow through with the steps.

Mostly, when I have a goal in mind, I vaguely stumble around, sometimes reaching the goal, more often not.

The other day, I was listening to Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA recently speaking during an impromptu Facebook Live presentation. She is one of those people who work hard to reach her goals. During this particularly Live presentation, she shared her process for setting and achieving her goals. Although she admits to being a bit overenthusiastic when it comes to her process, some of the things she discusses resonated with me. Hopefully, you will get something out of it too.

Mind Mapping

Mind mapping is a common technique, familiar to most people. But if you’ve never heard of it, it’s a simple technique.

To mind map, you take a blank piece of paper, put whatever subject you’ve been thinking about and then write down everything you can think of related to that subject.

It can look like this:

When it comes to setting goals, using a mind map can help you to draw out all of those ideas you’ve been carrying in your head. Gabriela recommends multiple mind mapping sessions on the same subject, digging a bit deeper each time you complete one.

I’ve been using this Mind Mapping technique to work on what I want to accomplish in 2018. It is a work in progress.

Reverse Engineered Goals

Once you Mind Mapped something down to its core, the next step is to Reverse Engineer some goals.

What is Reverse Engineered Goals you might ask?

Let’s begin with what reverse engineering is. The definition is “is taking apart an object to see how it works to duplicate or enhance the object.”

So, how does this apply to creating goals?

It’s simple. Begin with the end. Decide on your end goal and work backward.

According to Mark McGuiness, there are a few steps to reverse engineer your goals:

  1. Determine the most basic level of the goal.
  2. Ensure you are committed.
  3. Identify as many steps as possible that are required to reach your goal.
  4. Take action.

Sounds easy, right?

Nothing is ever that easy.

When it comes right down to it, the most difficult one, at least for me, is number 2 – ensure you are committed. Number 4, Take Action, is a close second.

I’m not sure I can define commitment for myself, let alone anyone else. But I think the Mind Mapping sessions you have will give you some idea of your level of commitment.

I’ve come across the thought that goals are dreams that are written down. There is probably some truth to that statement.

As I said, I’m in the process of mind mapping for 2018 and just dabbling in the reverse engineered goals.

If I can ensure my commitment, things are going to happen this year. That is if I can take action to meet my goals.

But that is my challenge.

What are your challenges when it comes to setting and succeeding at goals?

Have a fabulous week!

Angela

www.achoekwater.com

The Meaning of December

The Meaning of December

 

It’s finally December and NaNoWriMo is over. For those who missed it, I managed to make it to the 50,000 words and I am still working on it.

 

 

I’ve come to realize December means many things:

It’s the last month of the old year.
The holidays have arrived.
We celebrate the returning of the light.
And, for many of us, it is a chance to say goodbye to the old year and say hello to the new year, including setting intentions for how that year will go.

By now, most of us know what to expect from the holidays. Preparations may not be complete but a plan is in place. It’s a matter of checking off the list and hopefully, you will find some time to enjoy the season.

December also means a return to the light. A time when each day brings a few more seconds of light.

December is also a time when we look back on the old year, taking note of what worked and what didn’t. Most of all it is a time to set your intention for the year.

Take a look back:

The focus of this post is to take a look at the previous year, evaluating your growth, successes and even your failures.

1. Did you set goals for 2017? If you did, how did that go? Did you reach your goal? Did you give up? Complete failure?
First of all, regardless of the outcome, I want you to forgive yourself. Forgive any flaws or failures you may have had. Forgive the perceived weakness and that life got in the way.
Secondly, look at the goals you set. For the ones you accomplished, where do you go from here. Is there a next step? Was that one finished? What about the ones that didn’t work quite so well, what kept you from reaching the goal? Was it too broad, not specific enough? Or, did life simply get in the way?

2. If you didn’t set goals, did you have any expectations for the year? Expectations are much more difficult to pin down but we all have them. Did you expect to change your life? Or, expect that things would stay the same? The new year always brings the expectation of hope.

3. What about an intention? I often set a word for the year. I’ve even written about it a few times. Word of the year is a wonderful way to welcome something positive into your life. One year my word was enough. I thought I meant that I am enough but no, the universe took that invitation to see exactly how much enough meant. It was an interesting year.

My favorite way to look back over the past year is to see where you succeeded, regardless of whether or not you set a goal, and where you want to improve.

The Invitation:

The ending of the old year and beginning of the new year is an invitation. An invitation to dream big once again.

Where do you want your life to go?
What do you hope to accomplish?
Who do you want to be at the end of the new year?
How do you want to get there?
Why do you want to go there? Asking about your why is another post.

In the midst of the craziness of this season, I hope you can take a few moments to think over the past year. And, to look forward to the new year. It is a time for hope and intentions. You can make the decision to make this your best year yet. The possibilities are endless.

Until next time,
Angela

A Final Thought on the Close of November

 

One final quote for November:

“Each day provides its own gifts.”
Marcus Aurelius

As with gratitude, I often forget to look for the good things in each day. I have come to believe in the ordinary moments of life becoming the most important. Therein lies the gifts.

I hope you can see the gifts in your own life.

Angela

P.S. NaNoWriMo ended successfully. I was able to validate a couple of days ago. Thank you for your thoughts and support.

Time for an Attitude of Gratitude

Practice Gratefulness

If you are anything like me, Thanksgiving is a reminder to be grateful for the life you have. I also find myself reflecting on the ups and downs of life. One quote has kept me going through this past year, with its ups and downs, and is one I try to remember when I’m on one of the downturns:

“The best way out is always through.”

Robert Frost

 

Another way to get through the ups and downs of life is to be grateful. Grateful for the happy times and grateful for the difficult times, knowing that life wouldn’t be the same without both.

As I thought about Thanksgiving and my goal to post quotes, I found several that resonated with me. Hopefully, you will find meaning in words too.

Gratitude Quotes

William Arthur Ward

“Gratitude can turn common days into thanksgivings, turn routine jobs into joys, and change ordinary opportunities into blessings.”

Melody Beattie

“Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Brene Brown

“I don’t have to chase extraordinary moments to find happiness – its right in front of me if I am paying attention and practicing gratitude.”

Kristen Armstrong

“When we focus on our gratitude, the tide of disappointment goes out and the tide of love rushes in.”

Randy Pausch

“Never lose the childlike wonder. Show gratitude… Don’t complain; just work harder… Never give up.”

I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving and remember to take the good with the bad.

Yours,

Angela

 

A Life Affirming Quote

NaNoWriMo is always full of surprises and this year is no exception.

First of all, the writing has been hard.

Second of all, the story I’d planned didn’t come together.

Third, I stopped writing for a time.

 

None of these things are normal for me in November and I started to panic. Would this be the year I didn’t finish my NaNoWriMo project?

Nope! Not even close.

I simply changed direction and I am back on track. Of course, I am being a rebel and working on a previous project, however, I am only counting the words written in November. (I’m not that much of a rebel.)

I found the following quote and realized its amazing truth:

“I can’t change the direction of the wind,

but I can adjust my sails to always

reach my destination.” By Jimmy Dean

I’ve adjusted my sails and am moving forward.

I hope these words give you encouragement too.

Yours,

Angela

Hold on Tight, It’s NaNoWriMo!

Today is the day: National Novel Writing Month begins.

For writers of fiction and non-fiction alike, November 1st is a high holiday. Let the furious typing begin.

This is my fourth year of NaNoWriMo and I’ve decided to give myself a break.

Usually, during the month of November, I am desperately trying to write my current novel and keep up with blog posts. And, if I haven’t written anything, I feel guilty for letting my readers down.

 

Not this year!

This year will be different. Each week, and there are five weeks in November, I will be posting a quote that has some kind of meaning in my life.

The quote I have chosen for this week is one that seldom fails to make me smile. It is one that also hints at the story I will be writing for the next several weeks.

I’m not sure who wrote it. Some say it is a play on a line in one of J.R. Tolkien works. If I haven’t cited the correct source, it is because I haven’t found it.

I hope you enjoy it too!

 

 

Beginning in December, I will be back to my regularly scheduled posts. I hope you stay tuned.

Thanks,

Angela

www.achoekwater.com

 

 

 

Warning: The Holidays Are Fast Approaching

The holidays are coming.

At times, these four words fill me with dread, and yet this is supposed to be a happy time. All the cards and commercials say so.

And yet, it’s not. For so many reasons, the holidays are filled with angst and heartache. More often they are filled with the need to do more and have more, be everywhere.

As this is often the case, one of the struggles we tend to have is that we are a blended family and trying to keep everyone happy is a juggling act that defies reason.

I wrote about this last year in my post, Slow Down and Breathe. The steps I wrote then are absolutely still valid, so I am giving them to you again. I hope you find them helpful this year.

Life is about creating balance, and the following thoughts may help you find balance and achieve holiday peace.

Thoughts to Holiday Peace

1. Plan Ahead: Keep your calendar updated so you can see what is coming. Know what needs to happen and is expected at each event to reduce the surprises. For example, if you must make a dish-to-pass for every party, you will need to find the recipes (or several, as is my case) then you can plan and pick up all the ingredients for the recipe ahead of time.

2. Reduce the “Events”: Not every holiday party or even is a “must” attend. Decide which ones are the most important and go only to these. Not everyone will understand, but you must take care of you. Attempting to attend every event is a recipe for exhaustion.

3. Reduce Gifting: Although there seems to be a competition for the biggest, better than last year, gift-giving season, this can create pressure, stress, and, of course, debt. For the most part, we have what we need – for some, we have too much. Do we really need that next gadget? Do my kids really need that “must have” toy?

4. Take Time for Yourself: Do things for yourself like long baths, nights out with your partner, or alone time. Have fun. It’s so difficult to give and give, without taking the time to recharge yourself. The exhaustion and burnout can make for an unpleasant holiday season.

5. Breathe: Just 5 minutes each morning of deep breathing can set the tone for the entire day. Breathing can detoxify your system, lower your stress and help you sleep better at night.

Other Thoughts

I will be talking about creating balance in your life in the following weeks. Balance isn’t something you achieve all at once; some say one can never find balance. In a sense that may be true, however, being aware of when and where your life gets thrown out of balance is powerful. Once you can see where that imbalance is in your life, you can make choices to improve.

Choice is important when seeking balance. Without it, each of us is subject to the whims of life. Not that things still won’t come up, by actively seeking a balance and making the best choices for that present moment will help you move through whatever bump in the road you may encounter.

I hope you have the Holiday season you are seeking. In whatever form that takes.

Angela

www.achoekwater.com

A Return to Writing Includes Searching For Balance

Searching for Balance

I’ve returned to writing and the hectic pace I’ve had in the past. I have something “writerly” planned for nearly every weekend in October. November marks NaNoWriMo so that month is full and also begins the holiday season. In the meantime, I am deep in the middle of a marketing class.

Whew!

I’m tired already.

And, therein lies the search for balance.

It would be easy for me to look at my plans for the next several months and let my anxiety overwhelm me. It’s happened before, hence the unexpected hiatus from writing.

Unfortunately, keeping myself from being overwhelmed is often on my mind as I strive for balance in my life.

Tips for Balance

Here are some thoughts that have kept me going in the past and I hope are still helpful during this especially busy time.

1. Do the next thing. This one takes a bit of explanation. When I’m feeling overwhelmed I tend to look at the big picture rather than the small bites of life. That is where doing the next thing comes in. If the next thing that needs to happen in your life is to make the bed or do the dishes or make lunch, do that. Life happens in small moments and getting something done, even for that moment, will have a positive impact on your peace of mind.

2. Stick to your ritual. Every writer I know has a ritual that has evolved over time. My tends to follow the same things each day. I make coffee, light a candle, and write morning pages. Those three pages each morning are my warm up. Once those are complete I write. During normal times (i.e. not NaNoWriMo) my goal is 500 words and in November that bumps up to 2000 words each day. If you have other rituals, stick to those.

3. Keep your downtime. For me, downtime is crucial as too much to do and lots of chaos creates an unbalanced me. I have a building where I can escape but even there, if things are too noisy, I will struggle. Even if the chaos is positive, like having my grand babies over, it still creates stress in me and I need to deal with it.

A Final Thought

One last thing that I need to remember – Be Gentle With Myself! There is always tomorrow.

I am sure there are more ways to find balance during the busy times but having too many things to think about, again, even if they are positive, creates a struggle.

 

A Perfectly, Imperfect Wedding and The Return to Writing

It’s been a while. The summer flew by so quickly it is difficult to believe that we are officially into fall. Yet, here we are.

A Perfectly, Imperfect Wedding

Much of the past few months have been focused on my daughter’s wedding. I’d forgotten how much work planning a wedding can be. Even when you attempt to plan for every contingency, something always happens. Like, wardrobe malfunctions and insane weather.

Wardrobe Malfunctions

Turns out I forgot one of the main items to have on hand for weddings: Safety pins.

Really?

Yes, one of the zippers broke on one of the bridesmaids’ dresses and she had to be sewn into it.

Safety pins would have saved the day.

Insane Weather

Now, if you live in Michigan, September generally means some seriously beautiful weather. The days tend to be warm, but not too warm and the nights cool enough for sweatshirts. September and October days tend to be the gift just before winter hits and reminds us that we should all move south.

But, not this year.

No, this year we have had insane weather and not just in Michigan. At the time of this writing, a hurricane is barreling toward North Carolina. Marie is her name and she is the 4th or 5th one to hit the US and it’s territories.

Hurricanes tend to change the weather in other parts of the country and when there are so many in a row, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that we, here in Michigan would be affected too.

I must confess I didn’t really look at the weather forecast much in the week before the wedding. I worried mostly about rain as our contingency plan would have to be implemented.

A couple of days before the wedding, temps began to climb. By Thursday before the big day, we were seeing highs in the 80’s. On Friday, the thermometer reached 90 degrees.

A fun fact: on Friday, September 22, the 2nd hottest place in the United States was Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, about an hour away from where the wedding would be held.

Needless to say, on the day of the wedding, temps hovered around 94 or 95 degrees, with humidity.

We didn’t plan for the heat and it affected so much.

The show must go on and so it did.

In spite of the heat, the wedding was beautiful. Everyone seemed to have a good time.

Of course, that doesn’t mean I’m not happy that it is over. I’m just so ready to get back to real life.

A Return to Writing

I’ve been absent from my writing for some time. I’m not even sure when I posted the last time. Apparently, it’s difficult to stay focused on goals when planning a wedding.

But I am back and slowly building my writing habits again, which includes publishing blog posts regularly.

Slow is a relative term.

As we have reached the fall season, I am not surprised that NaNoWriMo is coming. That means I have deadlines to meet and a novel to plan.

I need to spend October planning or something close to it. All I have is a character in mind. Not much else. This should be fun.

So, there you have it. My life in less than 600 words. I am grateful for all of my readers and the chance to share these words with you.

As I close, I leave you with this cuteness:

Abel refused to take his hat off.