An Illustrated Goal Guide: The Idea

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Hey Sweeties! Thank you so much for stopping by! I so hope you enjoy the first part in my illustrated goal guide and find it helpful, too! I’m really proud of it (aww…)!

On some level, the idea of me (ME!) making a goal-setting guide is pretty ridiculous, given my – ahem – stellar track record (“Doctor, doctor, heal thyself!”, right?)! But on the other hand, I’ve got a hunger that perhaps a less muddled soul may lack! What do you think? Whatever the case, the process is helping me hugely, and I so hope you will benefit from my ineptitude (or former ineptitude…? Too soon?) as well!

The guide itself is a bit idiosyncratic (albeit evidence-based) owing to the fact that I’m making it as much for myself as for you guys! I’ve emphasized the points that seemed the most relevant, useful & interesting to me, or that had the strongest evidence to support them. I think it mostly speaks for itself, but I do want to highlight one piece – that bit where it says we should ask ourselves “Is anything bothering me?”, and examine any potential conflicts with other stuff in our lives.

I find this so helpful.

It might sound touchy-feely, but reflection is practical. Like, maybe you’ve got a goal that’s going nowhere fast, because you are supposed to work on it on Saturdays, and you are going biking/for brunch/sleeping in instead. Well, that bike ride/brunch/sleep might be important! So that’s a conflict that needs to be gently worked out.

I think a big reason I didn’t pursue the blog earlier was that back then I couldn’t really see how to squeeze it in without squeezing out time with my baby (honestly, I could hardly feed myself!). And in truth, that wasn’t a trade I was really willing to make. I couldn’t articulate that at the time – it was just a nagging feeling – but I think if I’d have been able to, I would have been a little less hard on myself, or maybe I would have been able to work out a way of chipping away at it without compromising that relationship.

That’s all I wanted to say!

Next week I’ve got more coming. The next stuff is a little more concrete! Less about thinking and more about doing.

Have a great week! And as always, I would love forever and a day to hear what you think!


P.S. Sources used to create the whole guide listed here, if you’re interested.

17 thoughts on “An Illustrated Goal Guide: The Idea

  1. Johanna

    This is AMAZING!!! I love it! It’s gorgeous, and I love how you’ve broken it down to this first step. What did the healthy snacks goal turn into? And how am I going to truly, truly work on getting up earlier??? Or should I just put that one on hold until I have this baby and then I will have no choice? The less I want to leave my nest in the mornings, the later and later I’m getting. Today Tye had to drive me. Because I didn’t have time for my 10 minute walk (ok, let’s be honest, at this point it’s a 15 minute waddle).
    Love it lane, going to show my students on the projector and have them follow this process!

    1. Elena

      Thanks so much, Jo! Lol, you know what, I address the healthy snacks goal in the next post – but that’s honestly not a major, major goal – it was a good example of phrasing things positively, which is really important. It’s called an “approach” goal, rather than an “avoid” goal. We are just way more motivated by focusing on something attractive, words like “don’t” and “stop” make us feel crappy, like we are doing something painful, not inspiring. Approach goals give us something – a good state – to strive for, and it feels good just thinking about them.

      For waking up in the morning, hmm. I think you have to find a way to make it attractive. Look at all the reasons it feels bad, and try to address each one. I’m definitely totally NOT a morning person at all either, as you full well know, but something I’ve been doing when I really want to get up is setting up my work space so it’s really attractive to me and ready for me to get started. That, and making sure I’ve got warm footwear and sweaters close by because I hate getting out of bed and being cold, you know? Lol. So, like, what would be a way to make your morning really nice? Maybe a podcast or some special breakfast, or a nice outfit already for you, or…?
      And I am SO STOKED that you’re going to use it with your kids!!! I actually took a couple (mild) swear words out with the impressionable in mind 😉 Let me know how it goes!!

  2. Kristi

    I love this! Elena, I think we need to hear this sort of thing and to have it broken down with such gentle & encouraging care.

    I am referring to “we” as in perhaps a collective “We” of women raised to feel guilty if they don’t take care of everyone else before themselves. Or the collective “We” of the self-effacing guilt of an artist without confidence, support or guidance. Or even the collective “We” of mums that are overwhelmed by being a mum 24-7 while still having creative urges that need to be satisfied.

    In any case, this illustrated guide is a perfect dose of encouragement whether it be for an artist, someone that needs a starting point or someone that even needs to start back at square one to reset.

    Thank you Elena for tackling this with such thoughtful verve. I for one appreciate it and am so proud of you.

    1. Elena

      Oh, Kristi! Thank you for the beautiful, thoughtful reply!

      It’s so good to hear that it feels encouraging and gentle! Goals feel BAD so often, and really, what’s the point then? I think we all want to move forward in some way, but it’s so important to listen carefully, gently to ourselves and really understand what it means to us personally to do so.

      I totally recognize the ugly guilt that rises as a mom when I try and make choices that nurture my creative self (at the expense of our poor, too-often disastrous apartment, ha!), and ALSO the exhaustion that comes when those choices get squeezed out. It’s a maddening emotional paradox!
      We’ve got to honour the things that are really meaningful to us, carefully listen to ourselves and weigh things with fierce honesty. It’s so relieving!

      Thank you again for the lovely comment, Kristi! xox

  3. Kellyk

    Beautifully and sensitively rendered Elena! Totally true about really feeling right about your goal. So many ideas and thoughts can seem great at the outset, but taking the time to ruminate on them can help figure out why certain ones might not be for you… example: other people think it would be a really awesome thing for you to do, but you just aren’t 100% with it yourself.

    Can’t wait for the next installment!!

    1. Elena

      Kellyk – thanks for the thoughtful comment! You know what, initially I had an an extra question to ask ourselves – “Is this really MY goal?” because that is something I stumbled upon in the lit and could totally relate to. That’s such a hard one, especially if it’s someone we really respect and care about that’s got *just* the answer for us – that makes so much sense, but just doesn’t feel quite right. I’ve done it, I mean I’ve dished it out and I’ve followed the wrong path because of it, and frankly it just didn’t really work out.

      You know, I think part of taking the time and care to really figure out if the goal feels good inevitably means being better able to articulate why it doesn’t feel good, too… and for me, I think that makes the difference. Like, if we’ve discerned our goals thoughtful, kindly, intentionally, honestly, when someone says “why aren’t you doing it this way?”, or “You know what you should do…” we can listen attentively, and if it doesn’t jive we have a clear answer. And a lot of the time the sweet souls that care about us actually really respect that. Plus, I think it feels good to be able to say with certainty why not, just for our own clarity of purpose, you know?

      Thanks again for the comment that made me think! So happy you are following! 🙂

  4. Csilla

    Beautiful and so useful! I am impressed by all of your sources and illustrations! I can see myself using this with my clients. We do quite a bit of goal setting and action planning together!
    Hope you and your lovely fam are well

    1. Elena

      Csilla, just wanted to let you know — I’ve now reformatted part one of the goal guide and made it available as a pdf, if you go to the homepage, it’s my most recent post. 🙂

  5. Elena

    Csilla, so so STOKED to hear from you! Oh, I honestly so hoped it would find it’s way into some OT circles! When It is complete, I’ll post it as a PDF, please do let me know how it goes! xo

  6. Bia

    What you are describing here hits so close to home! I am one of those people that sets goals way to high and forcefully strives to accomplish them. Even putting my own self on the line and permitting dissapoinments and distrust dismantle my whole being won’t detour me from achieving that goal.
    And more often than none what ends up happening is the goal doesn’t get achieved and the disastrous pattern that I run trying to achieve it puts me on the brink of madness. I’m not saying that setting high goals is bad , I’m saying that just like you , I had to accept after many fails , that what I want to acomplish is not going to happen “NOW”; it gives me so much comfort to see that I’m not alone in this battle with the “goals” and that many in my generation struglle with the paralyzing fear of failing.
    It comes as such soothing balm to have someone take the lead and say “Don’t despair! Here’s a way to work this through!”
    Much love and gratitude! 🙂

    1. Elena

      I am going back and thoughtfully rereading all of these comments from the past year, gently easing myself back into blogging after little Alida’s birth and I wanted to reply to this comment. First of all, I admire you so for your high goals and hard work – high goals are integral, we are not motivated by goals that are too low! Achievement needs to feel valuable, but I hear you — too often I don’t think my goals through enough and pushing towards them leaves me depleted and with the feeling that I am failing in all other aspects of my life, and ultimately, the goal too often ends up abandoned. I think that what this goal guide is, is just a gentle hand helping us to be mindful about our goals, holistic, keeping in mind our whole lives and our values and our needs, so that our goals can better mesh with all of that. It doesn’t omit the hard work involved in reaching a goal, it just helps us to be kinder and truer to ourselves in the process, and the magic is that this makes us more likely to succeed! It’s such a struggle, especially in America, the land of “get rich or die trying”, but in the end I think it’s worth it. xo

    1. Elena

      Tempy, that is awesome, and exactly what I’d been hoping for!! While writing this, I try and really think about you – friends out there whom i really really like, or I would if I knew them. 🙂

  7. Elaine

    How fantastic! I love this,it is so bright and human in comparison to the dry anti -procrastination stuff I have been beating myself up with. So delighted I have found your site.

    1. Elena

      Aw Elaine, I’m thrilled you feel that way!! I feel kinda the same about most goal setting material, which is a shame because the content is often so good, but I see it and I’m afraid I’m painfully quick to click away! I was hoping this would be maybe almost like fun to move through. For me as much as everyone else! 😉

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