Goal Setting: Breaking Down Big Goals into Monthly Ones

The last post discussed how to set overall goals for the whole year. Part of why people have trouble reaching their goals is that a year can seem like a long time so it’s easy to get overwhelmed with a larger goal and not know where to start. Unfortunately, sometimes when people don’t know where to begin, they either don’t start at all … or they start but give up before reaching the goal.

If you have a larger goal for the end of 2020, you want to reverse engineer that goal and break it down month by month. This way, you start with small, manageable steps that build on each other and it becomes way easier to reach your goal. I’ll give you a few examples and I’ll also provide a free monthly planning template you can try out.

Health Goal Example:

If you have a year-end goal of being healthier, think of a step you could implement first. Not ten steps–like exercising more, drinking more water, eliminating sugar, cutting carbs, increasing vegetables, meditating, etc. Pick one thing first and do that. Also, try not to be extreme in that one step. For instance, if you are currently exercising ZERO times per week and you put that your goal is to exercise every day for two hours … well, you are most likely going to fail in that goal. You want to set yourself up for success which will cause increased motivation and happiness. So, for my clients who exercise zero or once a week, we set the goal for the first month to increase exercise 2X per week. That’s it. Then, if they exercise more days some week, it feels amazing to them, like they’ve gone above and beyond. Keep it simple.

Financial Goal Example:

If you have a goal of saving for a specific vacation, kitchen appliance, etc, then research what you need to save per month given your desired timeline and make that a monthly savings goal–and put that money into a separate account for that specific thing if possible. Some online banks let you name your savings accounts whatever you want which is a fabulous idea as it creates excitement and motivation. So you can name an account “European escapades” or “kitchen remodel” which makes it even more fun to put money into it.

You would apply these same concepts to career goals, relationship goals, spirituality goals, etc. Start with the first step the first month and then assess how it goes before deciding what to implement the following month. Next week, we will go into specific weekly goal planning in a way that sets you up for success. In the meantime, you can grab this Monthly Planning Sheet to use if you want somewhere to list your goals for this month.

Make sure to check out plenty of other tips on the blog such as 5 Questions to Help You Determine Your Ideal Career.  Already know you’re ready to invest in making your ideal future a reality? Schedule a free coaching consultation today with Dr. Kristi to see if coaching is a good fit for you!  

Why You Should Engage in Active Slacking Over the Holidays

You’re probably used to coaching posts about increasing productivity, time management tools, and maximizing each minute of the day—I’ve even written a few of those myself. 😉 However, this is not one of those posts. Part of being successful is figuring out the art of work/life balance. Notice I didn’t say “perfecting the art” because everyone reading this post is human (as far as I know anyway) and therefore will not attain perfection. I’m going to do a whole post on the concept of perfection in the near future but, for now, just know that I think the word hinders rather than helps people—it’s far better to focus on being a slightly better version of yourself than you were the day before.

The Case for Slacking

So, about this work/life balance thing. The holidays are a weird time when we have a combination of time off from work (for most people) yet still have a high level of stress due to the overall busyness of the season so it’s not always the most relaxing time. Combine that with the family dynamics involved in gatherings where relatives don’t always see eye-to-eye and it’s no wonder why some people are reaching for the nearest glass bottle of wine. Not that I’m against a good glass of pinot noir but in terms of more liver-friendly self-care techniques, I’m advocating for more slacking over the holidays.

The Science of Slacking

Why actively choose slacking? Because when you allow yourself time to decompress, chill out, get creative, have fun, and play, you are living more in the present moment—which is where all the good stuff happens anyway. In terms of basic science, your cortisol levels (stress hormones) go down and your endorphins (your body’s feel good hormones) go up. You will literally feel better, so by creating space to slack, you are making your body and mind healthier … and likely your relationships because you’re going to be more fun to be around. In turn, this will make you even more productive when you are ready to dive back into goals and activities because you’re more energized—you got your groove back. Choose to slack more over the holidays.

Slacking Summary

Life is filled with to-do lists, work demands, children’s activities, laundry, house payments, flu shots, and dental visits. It’s easy to get caught in a perpetual cycle of stress and frustration. Step back and try to simply your holidays this year by focusing on what’s most important. Spend less time on things that aren’t bringing you joy (like Marie Kondo but with activities instead of shirts) and more time doing things you love—play a game, watch a movie, take a walk, check out a museum exhibit (the new Pixar exhibit at the Nature and Science museum is awesome if you’re in Denver), go skiing, meditate, sit on the couch in front of the fireplace with a good book or Netflix show, or take a nap—or two.

In short, slack more and stress less. I hope everyone has a joyous and relaxing holiday season filled with love and family. I’ll be back in January with posts on goals for the New Year and hope you come back refreshed and energized. Until 2020…  

Life Coaching Worksheet: Year End Goal Assessment

I have to admit that I love this time of year! Not just because of all the cooking, family time, and snuggling with my dogs by the fireplace. I love that it’s a perfect time to take stock of the year and then make plans for the next one. Whether or not you reached all of your career goals, personal goals, or other goals, it’s so important to focus your energy ahead on what you want rather than dwell on your perceived shortcoming. Give yourself credit for every win you had, no matter how small you think it is. One of my favorite quotes by Wayne Dyer is: “when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.”

It’s your choice whether to see the glass as half-full versus half-empty! Did you have a goal to lose 10 pounds but “only” lost 5 pounds? Rejoice in losing 5 pounds. Have a goal to meditate daily or increase your income by a certain amount but didn’t quite reach it? Celebrate meditating at least several times a week or increasing your income at all. Then make a plan for 2020 where you set actionable and specific goals. Make the overall end of year goal big but make your daily action steps small and doable–even a marathon is only accomplished step by step.

Later, I will share a sheet for setting your monthly goals to set you up for success in 2020, but for now, here is a free year-end worksheet for you to download so you can take stock of 2019 (download below). I hope you all have a wonderful and relaxing holiday season!! Love and light, Kristi

Life Coaching Insights: 2019 Mid-Year Goal Check

I can’t believe half of 2019 is over already! Mid-year is a great time to take a few minutes and assess how you’re doing so far with your goals for this year. If you’re on track to meet your personal and professional goals, that’s awesome! *throws confetti* You’re doing great and should be proud so take a moment to celebrate and then keep on truckin’ along. However, if instead you are feeling like you blinked and the year is already half-over and you haven’t accomplished anywhere near what you wanted to by this point—don’t despair. You still have time. Six months, in fact. You still have half the year to focus on making 2019 a success for you.

Ready?

Step 1) Assess where you are now. What is the personal or professional goal you wanted to accomplish? What steps did you accomplish so far? What held you back or got in your way? Examine the goal itself—is it a specific enough goal with small attainable steps? Write down the goal below and make sure it is specific to what you have control over. For example, instead of “lose 10 pounds,” you would write something like “exercise 30 minutes per day.” Instead of “make more money,” you would have something specific like “work “x” hours per week on my side hustle” or “make 5 sales calls per day.” You get the idea.

GOAL: ____________________________________________________

Step 2) Break the goal down into smaller steps. Over the next 6 months, if you even take one small step per day or complete one action item, imagine where you’ll be in half a year. You can only climb a mountain one step at a time so instead of being overwhelmed and paralyzed by the sheer size of your goal, just take one step today. And then another one tomorrow. Movement creates movement, so even small steps will motivate and energize you.

What is one thing you can do today to get you on your next step to your bigger goal? Examples might include: set up a savings account, go for a walk with a friend, organize one drawer, create a profile on a dating app, make a website, etc.

Your one thing for today: _______________________________________

Step 3) Set aside a few minutes per week to review progress and determine steps for the next week. Many of my career coaching and life coaching clients tell me they prefer to do this on Sunday evening because it gives them focus for the coming week but you do you and see what works best. Assess your completed items for the past week and decide what you need to put on your daily list for the following week. Note: Only assign 1 task per day. You can always do more than one thing which is bonus but you want to set yourself up to succeed. A common mistake is when people put 20 things on their daily task list, and being that they’re human, they don’t complete them and then feel like a failure—plus, when you re-write the same unfinished tasks over and over each day, it makes them lose their impact.

Weekly goal for upcoming week:___________________________________

Then, just rinse and repeat each week. The prior week’s tasks will help determine your next steps. When a certain task feels larger than others, break that down into smaller ones that seem doable. For instance, if you’re decluttering your entire house and this week’s overall goal is the garage which is so crammed with things that you want to cry thinking about it, break that one task down into manageable pieces, e.g. Monday: the shelves by the door, Tuesday: the box of holiday decorations, etc. One of my clients who started her own business broke things down into different days and: set up her LLC, obtained liability insurance, got a logo design, created her tagline and designed her website by picking one thing per day to do. You can do anything if you break it down into small enough steps!

Here is wishing you a successful second half of 2019 and that you finish this year amazed at all that you accomplished!

Kristi Helvig is a Ph.D. Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Certified Professional Coach who helps clients reach their goals all over the world through the magic of Skype. If you’re ready to change careers or would like a free consultation to see if coaching is right for you, please email Dr. Kristi at kristi@prosperitycoachingandconsulting.com.

The Power of Words

 

The words you use matter. Not just words that are spoken out loud, but your written words and thoughts as well. I can’t tell you how many times a client has said something to me, like, “I’m terrible at….” or “I’ll never be able to…” Words are more powerful that most people know which is why it’s important to put some energy into choosing your words wisely. As humans, we tend to be amazing at the self-fulfilling prophecy thing, meaning we are masterful creators of our reality. Whatever we speak, write and think on a daily basis has immense power to become real. In the course of a career or life coaching session, I will often point out a client’s word choice around certain issues because it reveals a lot about where they are stuck. Here are a few of the most common ones:

  1. “I’m Awful/Terrible/No Good/Very Bad at…” No, I’m not talking about the amazing picture book based on Alexander and his not-so-great day, though that book perfectly highlights the snowball effect that bad thoughts can have. It’s why bad days tend to stay bad–because we put our energy on the negative rather than what we want. Instead, practice speaking, writing, and thinking what you are good at. What if there is something that you want to better at but don’t feel you are there yet? That’s okay. Just choose different words. The fix: Instead of “I’m terrible at dating.” “I’m awful at numbers.” “I can’t lose the weight.”  Say this: “I’m getting better at dating.” “I’m learning better budgeting.” “I’m working on a healthy body.”                
  2. “Should” versus “Want”: We all get advice and suggestions from others, whether that is our spouse, parents, friends, or co-workers. Though that advice is often well-meaning in intent, the challenge comes in determining whether it is right for YOU. Too often, I see people who chose career field because of influence by others (parents telling them it would be a secure field, friends telling them it’s a money-making job, etc.) rather than them following their own passions. The word “should” is a huge red flag, because it usually means the influence is external rather than coming from inside yourself. For instance, “I should go into accounting because there are tons of jobs open.” “I should marry this person because they have many good qualities.” “I should get my Master’s Degree because it will open more opportunities for me.”  The fastest way to discover if that thing is right for you is to substitute the word “want” instead. The fix: Replace the word “should” with “want” and ask it as a question: “Do I want to go into accounting?” “Do I want to marry this person?” “Do I want to invest my time and energy into a Master’s Degree?”
  3. “Someday I will…” “Once I do/have/become this, then…” Too often, we are not living in the present moment which is where all the good stuff happens. We delay our ultimate happiness by saying that once we attain something (a great career/relationship/perfect health), we will be satisfied. By all means, have goals for yourself but whenever possible, frame them in the context of the present moment. If in each moment, you choose things that are healthy, happy, and moving toward your goal, you will get there faster than by staying 10 steps ahead in your mind. When you are always thinking 10 steps ahead, you aren’t enjoying where you are and life is all about the journey. If you’re not happy now, you won’t be happy 10 steps ahead either. The fix: Use present tense language to keep yourself grounded in the moment. Think thoughts in line with this, such as: “I am excited to exercise today to be healthy.” “I love playing this game with my children.” “I’m feeling great about this work project I’m completing.”

Bonus Tip: Whenever possible, use language in your thoughts and speech that generate more of what you want in life. Use words like “excited” “passionate” “love,” etc. If you know any negative Nellie’s in your life (the ones who find the down side of absolutely everything), pay attention to the language they use–their energy is about finding more of those negative things, and there will always be more to find if that’s where your focus is. Think of your energy as akin to plants or a garden–the things you focus on will grow by where you put your attention (water). Water your thoughts with good feelings and energy to create more of that in your life.

Remember: Like attracts like. Challenge yourself for the next week in terms of the words you say out loud and think to yourself. Focus your energy on what you want to create. Then you will have a book more similar to Alexander and the Wonderful, Amazingly Awesome, Very Good Day. 🙂

 

 

What’s Mindfulness Got to Do With Life/Career Coaching?

Whether people come to see me for life coaching if they want to change or improve an aspect of themselves, or reach a personal goal such as run a marathon or write a book, or if they see me for career coaching because they want to find a different career path, I do one thing consistently with all my clients: I incorporate mindfulness (awareness of the present moment) into the work we do together. Why? Great question. Here’s why.

  1. It decreases stress. When we are constantly running around from one thing to the next, we tend to get overwhelmed, which causes a rise in the stress hormones in the body. Over time, this can lead to physical problems, such as high blood pressure, decreased immune functioning, and physical illnesses (including cancers), as well as to emotional disorders such as depression and anxiety. When people are in a job they don’t love or they are feeling like they haven’t reached a goal they would like to attain, they often experience chronic stress. Teaching some simple mindfulness techniques makes it easier to relax, which causes positive changes in many areas from work to parenting to relationships. It also improves the quality of your sleep at night, which is the foundation of everything else you do. Improving your sleep is the quickest way to cause positive changes in the rest of your life.
  2. It makes your brain work better. Studies have shown that meditation causes improvement in brain cognition, included increased mental focus. Also, when you are in the present moment and clear-headed, you tend to make better decisions. When you are stressed, you tend to breathe more rapidly and shallowly, which means less oxygen is going to your brain because it’s going to your extremities to prepare for the fight-or-flight response. This is great if a bear is chasing you, but otherwise, it’s not helping you decide what’s best for you. A few simple breathing exercises help you to draw in more air, oxygenate more of your brain, and think more clearly.
  3. It can cause physical changes as well. There’s definitely something to the mind over matter idea. One study found that hospital patients who had a view of nature healed faster from surgery and required less pain medication than other patients. Being relaxed allows your body’s natural healing abilities to take over, which is why more and more research is being done on the impact of mindfulness on illnesses. Another mind-blowing study showed how a guided meditation caused measurable physical changes in the body simply by thinking about working out. This type of research is guiding some professional sports teams in their use of virtual reality to improve one’s game without the risk of injuries. This is one of the areas I find most exciting in the power of mindfulness techniques.
  4. It helps you identify “wants” versus “shoulds.” When you are in the present moment, it’s way easier to decide what you actually want, versus what you think others think you should do. It quiets the monkey chatter of self-doubt, fears, and second-guessing yourself. One of my clients was offered a substantial promotion in terms of pay and job title, but did not appear happy or excited about it. Upon exploration, she realized she did not want the promotion as she had no desire to manage other people, but felt she “should” do it, as others would view her as being more successful. Once she identified this, she turned the job down and felt a huge sense of relief. Anytime, the word “should” pops into your head around a decision, it means it’s time to use some mindfulness to dig a little deeper.
  5. It increases your intuition.  The more clear-headed you are, the more you are fully able to access the information around you. When you are trying to think five steps ahead or are worrying, you are not able to allow that information to come to you easily. Instead, your constant thoughts of “what should I do?” are actually blocking the answer from coming to you. If you are quiet, you can tap into your subconscious and find that you had many of the answers all along. One of my clients who owns several multi-million dollar businesses told me that due to our mindfulness work, he can now tell almost instantly which clients he should take on and which he should turn down, based on his intuition. Billion-dollar U.S. hedge fund manager, Ray Dahlio, was asked how he has been so successful over the years, and he said the number one reason for him was daily meditation.

Mindfulness impacts every single area of your life. All of the good things in your life happen in the present moment; not when you are worrying or stressed, so it makes sense to live in the present as much as possible. Need more mindfulness in your life? Try a free app, such as Calm or Insight Timer, and spend more time outside in nature. Want to dive deeper? My favorite meditations (the ones I do every night myself) are the ones through Brainsync where you can choose meditations for topics ranging from confidence to anxiety to prosperity (this is an affiliate link). Brainsync even has binaural meditations which induce deeper brainwaves and are amazing! Whatever you choose, take the first step toward mindfulness and notice the difference in how you feel. Many of my clients have said that mindfulness is hands down the most life-changing of the work they do in coaching.

Kristi Helvig, Ph.D., C.P.C., is a licensed clinical psychologist and certified professional life and career coach who works with clients all over the world via Skype, or locally in her Denver office. Contact Dr. Kristi to set up a free coaching consultation at drhelvig (at) yahoo.com.