As the new year begins, I’ve been thinking a lot (almost obsessively) about goals. As a perfectionist, it’s killing me that I set out to read 40 books in 2023 and I ended the year reading 39. Nevermind one of those books was about 700 pages long, it’s still just bothering me to no end feeling like I didn’t meet my goal. Should I just be happy with the 39 books I read? Was 40 books too lofty of a goal for me? Did my goal change and I failed to update my app with the challenge? There were years past when I surpassed this goal by double digits. Should every year be more books, a bigger challenge than the year before? Am I the biggest failure? Please don’t answer that, I am having a hard enough time here.
As a Coach, I think about goal setting all the time, on every client call. I am specifically trained to help other people achieve their goals. Thoughts on goals are not new to me, but I have a few new thoughts to share. I personally want to ease into my New Year’s goal setting this year and I haven’t attacked it with the same sense of urgency and gusto as years past. I am working to be more thoughtful in my goal setting to avoid this end of the year reflection and feeling like I am coming up short when I accomplish so much.
When my clients want to achieve something, for example “to stay sober through a birthday party”, I help them tighten up that idea with a SMART goal. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and TimeBound. In this case with the client goal to” stay sober at the birthday party” a SMARTer goal might for a client might look something like this:
Prior to the party I will text the host that I am not drinking right and let them know they can help me with my goal by not offering me any alcohol. I will also inform them in advance that I will be leaving early. I will drive myself and arrive at the party on time. I will bring 2 LaCroix’s with me to drink during my time at the party. I will give my birthday gift and wish the guest of honor a happy birthday. I will text Heather from the bathroom when this is complete. While in the bathroom I will review my list of reasons why I want to stay sober today. I will enjoy the snack table and my drinks during party time. I will set a silent alarm on my phone for 1 ½ hours and when the time is up I will do The Vanish, which is to leave without saying goodbye. I will skip out the backdoor into my car and text Heather that I made it. I will then take myself out for sushi/ice cream/movie/manicure as a reward. I do not have to enjoy myself at the party. The goal is to stay sober, not have fun. Not be an entertaining guest. Not stay longer than I want to. I will know I have met my goal when I leave the party without having any alcohol.
SMARTen up your goals so you know you can attain them and recognize when you do. Nobody stays sober for the rest of their life, by the way, we are all just staying sober in this moment. Just for today, if you will.
My Mom often makes comments (as mothers do amiright?) about me always reaching for goals, having goals, and making things into a challenge or a competition. Quite frankly, she is not into this like I am. She’s been a student in my Jumpstart Digital Course, my biggest fan, and OG follower since Day 1. Like my literal BIRTHday (LOL). What does resonate with her is when I use a different word and idea. She lights up when I say INTENTIONS instead of goals. She doesn’t want the hustle of moreness in her retirement season. She’s not interested in feeling the not enoughness that can come along with goal setting. She’s not interested in big proclamations of what she’s going to do differently this year or what she has to prove. She is more into getting still and quiet and following her inner knowing. Mom’s really are the wise ones, aren’t they?
One thing that has helped me in sobriety is to start my day by reading a daily devotional/intention and end my day with a meditation. I use the Insight Timer app for my evening meditation. There are many apps out there and I think they are all mostly good. You don’t need an app at all if you can just sit still and be quiet, but I like guided meditation for my busy mind. I’m sharing a few daily devotional books that have been perfect companions on my sober journey.
I read this book religiously every morning during my first year of sobriety. This book built my resilience and taught me the stoic way. I highly recommend it. Through reading this book, I learned to think in a whole new way. It built my mental fitness which is exactly what I needed when I was struggling with the discomfort of early sobriety.
Written by a philosopher and cancer survivor. This book gave me spiritual guidance and reminders to enjoy each moment in my second year of sobriety. Mindfulness is everything and this book was a great teacher in that lesson.
I fell off reading a daily devotional for a few years but picked it back up again sporadically when this book came out. Dawn’s book is beautiful and specific for women in recovery, unlike the previous two books. I definitely recommend it.
This is my book for this year. I am committed to a daily devotional practice again. I haven’t started it, but I know Brianna’s brilliant writing and gentle heart is what I am seeking this year as I work to tune in even more to my intuition. No doubt it will be a Pivot Year for me too.
TA DA LIST
I was looking through my notes app last night to make sure I haven’t missed anything I’ve been thinking about or things I’ve jotted down that I want to add to my brand planner with blank pages just waiting to be filled with To Do’s. I found my own Ta Da List and it made me laugh. Instead of always focusing on how much you still have to do, you can can give yourself some credit for how much you have already done. As long as we are alive we will have a To Do List. There is no completion. It’s like laundry and you know what I mean. Before the last load leaves the dryer, the dirty basket starts to fill up again. Take a moment to appreciate what you’ve done, praise your daily accomplishments. Give yourself credit for what has been checked off the list. Great growth is done in small steps. Speaking of that brings me to my final thought.
BREAK IT DOWN
We don’t make big changes in one sweep with a lofty goal. We run a marathon by putting our shoes on countless times for shorter runs. We write books by putting words on paper one letter at a time. Getting sober or improving your health or building your business happen with small consistent shifts over time. We make changes in 1% increments over time. When a goal (such as any of the above mentioned) feels overwhelming, it is because it is. Break it down into small doable tasks to build your confidence over time. You have to commit to running one mile before you can run 5. Eventually 26.2. No one wakes up ready to run 26.2 one day. No one. Everyone starts one mile at a time. How can you break down your goals into more easily attainable steps? That’s where you start. What shift can you make today? How can you break into the easiest task or behavior change? Start there.