4 Goal Writing Hacks from a Millennial
Anyone feel like you set a goal, make a plan, make it through a few days and then BAM, you get a flat tire on the way to the gym, you sleep through your alarm clock, or you eat your last avocado before Friday? I’m raising both hands! When you dig reeeeeealllllly deep, you CAN make your Whole30 challenge last more then Whole3, blend that green smoothie every morning, and you definitely can reduce/remove your caffeine intake (this one I can personally relate with!)
I get it. I’ve been there over and over again. Actually, I’m there now. Hustle.... it's a great word to describe reality sometimes. For that one shiny goal i check off my list there were 100 hidden steps AND a serious reason or drive behind what’s pushing me through.
It was a sunny August day and I was sitting on the floor of our NYC apartment. There were student loan bills/paperwork covering the area rug as I sat cross-legged on the phone with AES and Fedloan. My heart was racing waiting to hear how long it will take us to pay for our fresh college degrees. When the verdict of being something like 48 years old rang true, my stomach dropped like that feeling you get when you drive over a tall hill, my heart was on fire, and I started crying.
Hustle mode kicked into high gear. For the next 16 months my husband and I lived on very little per week and put EVERYTHING else we earned towards our student loans. Following the steps of Dave Ramsey’s “Debt Snowball” program, we even stopped our 401K’s for those months allowing us to throw a few more hundred at the debt each month. We had just about finished paying for our wedding and the large amount on our credit card from buying Amtrak passes for 6 months before our wedding from outside of Philly where we separately lived to our new jobs in NYC. We were barely scratching the surface paying more then the minimum each month. I listed our 19 student loans by smallest to largest and taped it to the fridge. We started with the smallest loan and chipped away at it until it was gone. After each loan was complete I'd take my prized black Sharpie marker and draw a big ol’ fat line through it. We were on fire with this battle to get through alive (…#allthedrama). We dog sat, I babysat for multiple families, my husband picked up an evening job managing the soundboard at a music venue, I fearlessly asked for a raise at my fulltime job, and I picked up a lot (A LOT) of freelance work in addition to my full time job. Every 3 loans we paid off, we celebrated with a date and at month 16 we finished with a chunk from our savings. We felt like we had the world because for the first time in our adult lives, we owed NO ONE! If you think back to 2014- 2015 and you saw me enjoying NYC like I owned the place on my social media feed, it’s true, I was and I felt like I did! You don’t need a dime to enjoy beautiful views so I enjoyed the city as I trained for my first NYC Marathon!
PS- We both had never opened our diplomas so when we finished paying off the loans, we opened our diplomas for the first time together.
After that experience there wasn’t anything or anyone that could steal my mojo except for the doctor who listed off my options as I sat in the office after finding a benign breast tumor. This deserves a post to itself because if you’ve been in a similar position, you know the exact feeling I’m referring to. I had picked up a homeopath/integrative doctor's business card from a local health foods store weeks before this event and called him immediately when I left the hospital. I met with him, wrote down lifestyle and diet changes, and ordered the specific supplements I needed. My homeopath/integrative doctor, the oncologists, and the nurses felt confident it was not cancerous but the fact that they couldn’t put that in writing for legal reasons always made me skeptical. I followed my homeopath's wellness plan when the alternatives did not feel right for me. When going for ultrasound check ups, about every 6 months for two years, the properties of the tumor weren't changing (exactly what we wanted) and it kept shrinking! I trusted myself, the plan, my homeopath, and most importantly, I trusted God. I surrounded myself with resources and people who supported me. You could see how I was changing my life- my food, lifestyle, exercise, etc... I learned A LOT and continue to learn a lot about how incredible our bodies are when given the right tools, how powerful food and nutrients are, supplements, inflammation, etc… I hustled my way out of that situation and after a 2 year wait and watch, I naturally shrunk a tumor and I’m free from any further follow up ultrasounds! #winning
I have grit. And it’s a tool I’m always looking to sharpen.
Every time I find myself embarking on a new goal, (and yes, I always have a list), there’s a few crucial things I do to lay the groundwork. Oh, am I coming across like I have it all together? Negative. I definitely don’t. This is just how my mind processes and organizes before the actual launch.
4 GOAL WRITING HACKS
1) Organize & write out your next steps. For me this means getting a new mini notebook to dedicate my progress to. I’ll write a list of to-do’s allowing myself to brainstorm. This can literally happen anywhere, on my lunch break, in the food store while I’m pushing the cart, during a church sermon (sorry!), while I’m watching a movie, etc… you get the idea. This notebook becomes part of me. And yes, this has resulted in multiple mini notebooks that have been started. I think have 5 going right now.
2) Set one or two big goals with small goals (and deadlines) intermixed. I run the NYC Marathon every year. Ok, so every year since 2015 I’ve run the NYC Marathon and honestly even if there are years where all I can do is walk, I’ll plan on it. I train with New York Road Runner’s Virtual Training Program and the marathon itself isn’t the only goal you’re working towards. They suggest scheduling training races throughout your training for you to get used to the feeling of running with thousands of others and to see where your fitness level is so you know how you need to prepare throughout the rest of your training. Similarly, when I have a deadline at work I divide the work by however many days I have to complete it. Then, each day I divide it up by what I want to finish in the next few hours (for example, 10am), by lunchtime, and the end of the day.
3) Accountability, you need it. Tell someone. I repeat, tell someone! Tell a friend, a co-worker, your spouse, or even the employee at the grocery store check out line you see every week if you prefer not to share it with those you see or talk to daily. There is something about hearing yourself say the words out loud that makes you want to stay committed!
4) Be your own inspiration. Write yourself sticky notes and leave them around your home. Who care if a guest sees the sticky note on the bathroom that reads, “What am I looking forward to today? What might trip me up today? How can I overcome this?” …You guessed it. Yes, this is on my bathroom mirror. What I mean is, even if it’s silly and no one understands, that’s ok. I have 2 sticky notes on my monitor at work I read every day. One says, “think happy” and the other says, “gratitude brings more good.” If my co-worker reads this she’s probably laughing because she of all people understand my love for sticky notes. Maybe instead of sticky notes it’s printing out a picture of the tropical vacation and taping that to your fridge because after all, instead of spending it on that pair of shoes that finally went on sale you’re dreaming of sand between your toes! Heck, maybe it’s listing all of your debt in smallest to largest and putting it on your fridge to remind you why you’re working so hard.