The Goal-Setting that Brought Me Back to Life

The goals that got me out of a year-long funk...

I was in the middle of a more than year-long fog. I shared a little about that fog in my post Making Sense of a Hard Year, and shared even more in my post Slow and Steady Self-Care Over the Long Haul.

The short of it is this: A web of causes led me to a low I found myself stuck in. It was affecting my ability to feel fully alive, and finding my way through it felt stagnant, moving so much slower than I would have liked.

That's the season I was in when someone gifted me a year set of PowerSheets (a thorough goal-setting resource) from the Cultivate What Matters shop. It was an instant mood-lifter, because: How thoughtful! Also, the Cultivate What Matters team makes the most beautiful and inspiring products.

More than that, this year has been a complete turn-around from last year's fog, and I feel the goals I set and cultivated with my PowerSheets were a major catalyst to initiate that shift.

I know this might sound like one giant sales pitch. While I'm thankful to get to be an affiliate for Cultivate What Matters (*affiliate links used in this post; see full note below), I'm sharing this because of the positive influence they've had in my life this last year. Keep scrolling to see how the PowerSheets helped me and the specific goals I focused on this year.

How I started making what matters happen...

What are PowerSheets and why are they so great?


Following is a little more about PowerSheets, those fancy goal-planning pages from the Cultivate What Matters shop, and what they gave me this year especially...

1. A few therapy sessions of sorts to process.

The beginning pages offer in-depth pre-planning processing. In those pages I remembered what brings me to life, what motivates me, and what is deeply meaningful to me. I named where I was currently, embracing the good and letting go of the bad. I called out my fears by name and made the commitment to step into those fears and move forward.

I made a list of all the great things from the year before to remember God is still faithful to show up even in the valleys, then I listed the challenges to note what was in my control to change and what wasn't. I listed the people I was grateful for and took time to write some of them notes so they knew it. I reflected on the lessons I learned that year, which I shared in my Lessons on Slow post.

This pre-planning process was so many things. It was therapeutic and validating. It was revealing and healing. It was a more accurate look at where I found myself and where I was headed, that accounted for my feelings and fears, but didn't leave them in the driver's seat. This process and those 30+ pages before I even got to the goal-setting were a huge part of the value I found in PowerSheets.

2. A way to both dream about the future and workout practical steps to start now.

The goal-planning steps in the PowerSheets were just as thorough as the pre-planning. By the time I moved on to goal-planning, I felt like I had already been brought back to life. A spark that had been missing was reignited. I had a clearer idea of the goals I wanted to pursue and the smaller steps that would help me accomplish them.

I evaluated where I was currently in eight categories of my life and decided what I was saying yes to and what I was saying no to in each of those areas. This gave me a better grasp of the foundation habits I needed to work on before or along with some of the other bigger goals.

3. Accountability of sorts with monthly tending lists and reflection pages.

Beginnings are my jam, and the monthly Tending Lists in the PowerSheets mean I get to celebrate that every month. (I even started #BeginMonthly on Instagram as my way to slow down and celebrate those routine new beginnings that I love so much.)

The Tending Lists helped me stay motivated to continue progress on my goals throughout the month, however small. And the Month in Review pages helped me celebrate progress from the previous month and let go of any guilt over goals I didn't feel good about.

Whether you're into beginnings, love the middles, or are a big finisher, PowerSheets have something to make every part of that process a celebration of sorts.

4. Space to reevaluate and refocus goals each season.

In my experience, goals change with seasons of life. My Summer tends to be more family focused while the kids are out of school, Winter is often about surviving and attempting to savor, while my Spring and Fall are when I dive into my bigger personal, home, or work goals. Having checkin points to reevaluate the direction of my goals throughout the year was so helpful in making sure I was still prioritizing the right things for the current season.

Are they worth it?
We have a really tight budget, so for years I've wanted these planning pages, but just couldn't justify the cost. I am so thankful to that special person who gifted them to me. Not only was it the perfect timing when I really needed this boost in my life, it also helped me see how these pages are an investment to my overall health and wellbeing. That's exactly what I told my husband when I talked about buying my PowerSheets for 2019, and he agreed they are worth the cost.

Now, want to see the actual goals I focused on this year? Keep scrolling...


The goals and goal-planning pages that helped bring me back to life.

The Goals that Brought Me Back to Life


You know that Thomas Edison quote that says something like: Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration? That applies here. Setting goals and making plans is the important, but small beginning steps of inspiration for what's to come. They only matter if action, or perspiration, follows. Below are the goals I set this year and the steps that followed that helped me feel more fully alive after a too long low.

I naturally think in terms of categories, so I started with the following goal categories. Then within those I thought out the daily or weekly rhythms I wanted to create to improve each area. (I do better with goals that have a specific task to check off.) If there were goals that I wanted to reach but didn't have a recurring habit to work into my routine, then I wrote those down as monthly goals to work toward.

Health

My overall goal: To feel better. It was a vague goal, but I knew in my head exactly what it would be like including more stable mental and emotional health, as well as energy and feeling alive.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Devotional time, taking vitamins, morning movement, evening stretching, mini-retreats (baths, journaling, etc.), drinking tea during the week instead of coffee, dark chocolate instead of other treats, mindfulness habits, writing morning pages, reading before bed and going to bed by 10 p.m. We also attended an 8-week seminar on mental health.

Family

My overall goal: Meaningful time together. This can get lost in the hustle of homework and dinner and bedtime routines. So I made sure family time was on my goals list as my reminder of what, or rather who, is really important in life.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Morning and/or evening family worships, regular date nights that didn't include binge-watching TV. And potty-training the "baby" of the family made it on to more than one monthly goal list.

Work

My overall goal: Professionalism and consistency. I work from home very part-time, so I wanted to do this well and build a good foundation for whatever is next for me career-wise as my youngest eases into school.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Completing my freelance commitments in a timely manner, dressing for work (even though I work from home), "clocking-in" daily to continue getting ahead on my tasks list even if I was technically caught up.

Connections

My overall goal: Build thriving connections. Being a stay-at-home-/work-from-home-mom and an introvert means it's all too easy for me to be home and disconnected for long stretches. Even as an introvert, this hindered me in a lot of ways, so I wanted to show up more and be more connected in the relationships I already have.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Making arrangements to see local friends in person, initiating get-togethers for a local group I'm a part of, sending hand-written notes to friends, meeting up with my Mastermind group regularly, helping lead a small church group, texting friends to checkin.

Outdoors

My overall goal: Spend more time outside. I started to realize I felt more fully alive the times I was outside, so I needed to be proactive to work this into my life more regularly.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Reading on the porch, going for walks, exploring state parks with the family on the weekends, getting outside with the kids during school breaks, making Seasonal Bucket Lists that include outdoor adventures, driving outside city limits at least once a month.

Home

My overall goal: Make our home a little simpler. I've been simplifying our home for a decade and have learned that simplifying isn't a once-and-done thing for me. Simplifying is an ongoing habit of going through our things, cleaning up spots that clutter easily, and making sure our home continues to be the welcoming, calm, clean place I need it to be. It's an ongoing work-in-progress and I've found my peace with that.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Make a chore chart for the kids and implement daily chores, work on cleaning out and simplifying at least one area per month.

Budget

My overall goal: Stay in budget and increase income to expand sinking funds. Our budget has always been a point of frustration for us, one that's partly out of our control. So my goal was simply to control the small part that I could, and let go of the parts beyond me.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Set the budget at the beginning of each month and balance the budget weekly, start sinking funds in our savings for future expenses, stay in budget.

Create

My overall goal: Find the fun in creating again. The fog I found myself in last year was also a fog over my creativity. I didn't have the same joy in creating and so I just didn't do it as much. I wanted that back.

Daily, weekly, or monthly habits I worked on: Using my guided journals regularly, writing blog posts that I really wanted to write, doing a project for fun with no other end goal for it.

I didn't do this whole list the whole year. Instead, I focused on specific aspects of each category various times throughout the year. These goals, while pretty basic, were the foundation I needed to feel good about life again. And that's no small thing.

It's actually what I had been working on before, but with a written plan to track my progress and way to reflect, I now felt like it was meaningful work rather than trivial. I was accomplishing something important with each of these small and simple habits. No quick fixes, just moving forward slow and steady over the long haul. And that is something I will be proud of for years to come.

There are a variety of reasons I've seen improvements this year from the last couple. The goals I set with my PowerSheets definitely played a big part in that. I still have my struggles and hard days/seasons, of course. But I've become more intentional through it and seen the positive outcomes. This is the turning point in adding more life back into my life, and I am truly thankful and anticipating continued growth in the year ahead.

PowerSheets 2019: Coming October 24!


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also see:
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making sense of a hard year
slow and steady self-care
fostering connection
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*Note: Affiliate links used in this post. Purchases made through these links could earn me a small commission with no extra cost to you.