Goal setting, or how not to sabotage yourself via to do lists

Happy May, friends!

In the hope of talking more about life in general here at Teaspoon of Nose, I’ve decided to share my monthly goals. Life has felt too complicated, too sensitive, and just plain too fast to do a great job of sharing more personally here on the blog. My job isn’t really bloggable (respecting my employer’s privacy) and law school is the other main current in my life, so most of the time I don’t even know what to share when I want to share the real stuff. However, especially as I look ahead to being pretty mobile/unrooted geographically for the second half of 2016, I want to shift into sharing more deeply and building community.


One easy to start that is by sharing my monthly goals! I’ve actually been creating a list of monthly goals for over a year now, and it has helped me see my life as more connected/prioritized/flowing, rather than just moving through obligations and commitments at a meandering-to-manic pace that seems to make up life. I’m a huge fan of Passion Planners and highly recommend them for anyone looking for clear-cut ways to build your big goals into your weekly and daily life.

Each month, I sit down on the last Sunday of the month (or the very beginning of the next month, we’re thinking spirit of the law here) to review and refresh. I’ll pull out the previous month’s goals and compare them to my calendar. Did I accomplish them? If not, what went on? After doing this for a while, I’ve started marking on my calendar if I got sick  or how often I worked out or what evenings I spent working towards larger projects (typically photo editing or blogging or reading). I try to identify if the unmet goal was 1) unatttainable, 2) too many things came up, or 3)I wasn’t actually all that interested in accomplishing it when I got down to it.

Through this process, I realized that my biggest hurdle has not necessarily been time, but energy. My job doesn’t take a crazy amount of time over what you’d expect from a full time position. I don’t work 80 hour weeks, and travelling is mild and planned weeks in advance. The roadblock for me is having the brainspace at the end of a workday to tackle a project or get my creative juices flowing. This realization has freed me from expecting myself to be super-productive all the time. No one expects that of me, I wasn’t created to be that way, so why do I expect it of myself? Some days, the most I am going to accomplish in the evening is cooking dinner, packing my gym bag, and watching some TV. And that’s okay! It’s also helped me realize that I need pay better attention to myself. If I am exhausted, to push myself to vacuum or even do something relatively fun like edit photos, I am going to be cranky, not enjoy whatever I’m doing, and probably be rude to my husband in the process. Other days, I can tell that I just need to sit still for 30 minutes, reading or watching an episode, before I attempt to tackle the to do list or cook dinner. The 30 minutes refresh has been my middle ground between pushing myself too hard and not leaving my couch all night.

What my planning looks like when it gets out of control.

After looking at how I fared with last month’s goals, I use that information to make new goals for the month ahead.

I should throw in here at this point that my overarching attitude towards goals has changed in the past couple years. Instead of setting goals as a way to accomplish as much as I can, goals now serve the larger hope of getting things done in a way that is nice to myself. [Someone wordsmith that phrase for me. It’s cumbersome, but gets at what I mean.] What I’m saying is that goals for goals’ sake is dumb. Goals for the sake of living the most efficient life possible doesn’t feel like a lifestyle that brings satisfaction, either. Goals for the sake of living my best life, my life as it was most intended, my most Christ-serving life, sounds much closer to how I want to live.

So, with all of that in mind, I set goals as a way to translate my goal-oriented, FOMO-motivated, do-all-the-things self into a self that doesn’t end up overspent, grumpy and dissatisfied. This is a process: I am not going to work out 4x a week if I get called in to work early twice that week. It’s just not going to happen. I have learned to happily release myself from working out on weekend unless its something fun, like going on a walk with a friend or playing outside with the neighbor’s dog. At times, it takes me weeks to edit photos from a weekend trip. I have yet to solidly book anything for our Europe trip later this summer, and to be honest that makes me a little nervous. But I’m learning to have grace for myself and patience with life’s chaos. Shockingly, I am constantly relearning that I am not the master of the universe.

Soon I’ll share my May goals with a glance back at April. That will shed some light on what it looks like for me to set healthy goals. We’ll make this a monthly thing, shall we?

How do you set goals? What types of things are priorities for you on a monthly basis?

DC flowers

all images copyright Teaspoon of Nose




0 thoughts on “Goal setting, or how not to sabotage yourself via to do lists

  1. I’m a “to do list” fan too! I also find them a practical and quite easy way to motivate myself, sometimes I select sub-goals in order to accomplish the main goal completely and to not give up on it cause it seems too complicated! 🙂 thanks for sharing!

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