For such a goal and checklist-oriented person I’m not sure how I’ve managed to squeak through the last two months without talking about goal setting more. It’s something I do every single day. It’s how I manage my life. It’s something I really enjoy (is that strange? probably).
Last week I met with a friend to discuss her goals. She started a blog and she wanted some coaching on where to take it. This is a subject I’m VERY good at consulting on, and terrible at advising for myself. I’ll explain more.
With concrete goals – like walking every day – it’s easy to plan, schedule, measure, and mark it as complete. It’s easy to set the boundaries. It’s easy for me to define what a “walk” is. I know that might seem a little obvious, but bear with me.
One of my annual goals is to walk every day. Now I live in New England, and our little town in Massachusetts has had a record amount of snow in February. No matter what rules I set for myself to achieve the “walk every day” at the beginning of the year, there was no conceivable way for me to achieve this goal without adjusting the rules for conditions outside of my control.
In addition, I have a toddler. And sometimes our schedule is not what I want it to be, but what he needs it to be. So, again, I have to adjust.
In addition, it’s winter. Through January and February, daylight hours available for walking were at a minimum. With snow on the sidewalks and tall snowbanks, my available hours to walk outside, safely, in the road with two dogs and a stroller were very limited. In fact, some would argue that it hasn’t been safe to walk outdoors at all this winter because we have to walk in the street. But I’m a badass New Englander and that’s just not how we do things.
Knowing all of those conditions outside of my control, I have a choice. I can either make my life difficult by taking a very strict interpretation of the annual goal – that it MUST be a walk outside with Max and the two dogs each and every day – or I can find supplemental opportunities for me to achieve it. And, since it’s just me making this goal and it’s just me that is tracking it, I’m completely comfortable with adjusting my expectations.
So how do I define achieving my “walk every day”?
First, if at all possible, the official “walk” is a mile-long route in our neighborhood, outside, with the two dogs and Max in the stroller. And that’s what we’ve done 95% of the days so far.
But there have been two days where Max has fallen asleep early, or in the car, and we weren’t able to go on that walk that we do every day. On those days, I boldly selected a walk with the two dogs, and toddler on foot, through icy sidewalks on VERY cold days. I don’t recommend it. But it was an experience we wouldn’t have had if it weren’t for this goal and I feel like that is enough to count it as a success.
There have also been a few days where my amazing husband has taken Max to my wonderful mother’s house, where he played and napped while I got to work at home. On those days, I have supplemented my goal with a treadmill run at the gym. Again, I went on those runs to work at my goal. And while I regularly do treadmill runs at the gym in the winter, only the ones that supplemented my goal were counted.
But then there were days where we had MAJOR snow storms. Like stay in your house for 2 days, only occasionally venturing outside to shovel. On those days, there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t go to the gym. I couldn’t walk on the street. I couldn’t even take the dogs and Max outside on some of them. On those days, I wrote an “S” for snow (so creative, right?!).
And I’m okay with that. I’m not going to count conditions outside of my control against me. It wasn’t a choice. Or a lack of motivation. And, accept it or not, it’s just the way things are.
Circling back to what I introduced in the beginning of this post, it’s easy for me to dictate what counts and what doesn’t count when it comes to walking every day. It is also easy for me to work with my friend, who is just starting out with her blog and is not sure what conditions to set for herself, for me to advise her on managing expectations, setting achievable goals, and slowly but methodically building a brand while she manages all of the other responsibilities in her life.
And it is completely impossible for me to do this for myself.
Okay, a little drama there, but still. I know I’m not alone. We can be SO hard on ourselves, especially when we’re balancing family and work and happiness and everything in between.
But if I want to be successful, and if I want to build my brand, than I need to have more conversations like this with myself. I need to consult myself on how to build my brand. I need to consult myself on what are reasonable expectations. I need to consult myself on what is outside of my control. I need to consult myself on what counts at meeting my goal and what doesn’t.
And, because I’m a great consultant, I have faith that it will make a difference.
But it starts with not editing out the line “I’m a great consultant.” Because I just tried to do that there. And if there is one thing I have learned in my months – and years – of very slowly building this blog, it is that all of my natural instincts towards social media are wrong (a really fun post for another day). Because while I am fully comfortable advising a friend on how to build her brand and how to leverage the aspects of her personality that will translate best online, I am terrible at doing that for myself. Terrible. And I know the only way for that to change is for me to change the conversation I’m having with myself.
So what about you? Do you have a goal you want to achieve? Do you need to change a conversation with yourself?