Pursue What Matters
Episode 36: Planning for 2020 Part 3: Priorities-You’re Overwhelmed! Now What?
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Dr. Melissa Smith 0:00
It’s the New Year. Everyone’s making resolutions. What about you? Stop before you make one more resolution that you won’t keep. Join me for a better alternative to the New Year’s resolutions as we help you plan for 2020.
Dr. Melissa Smith 0:37
Hi, I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Welcome to the Pursue What Matters podcast where we focus on what it takes to thrive in love and work. Hopefully, you’ve joined me on this three part podcast series that’s all focused on helping you plan for 2020. Too many of us make new year’s resolutions reactively on January 1, because everyone else is making them we feel guilty about our holiday celebrations, or we believe that this is what we do in January, there’s got to be a better way. And there definitely is. So let’s jump in. And along with this episode, I’ve got an awesome freebie on goal setting 101, that takes you through all the basics of goal setting so that you are set straight, and you never fall prey to horrible New Year’s resolutions ever again. That’s my goal for you this year.
Dr. Melissa Smith 1:32
Okay, so just a very quick recap of our three part podcast series. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to parts one and two, I would definitely take some time and go back and listen to them. They’ll definitely be worth your time, in my humble opinion. So part one purpose, what’s your vision for your life, we focused entirely on helping you identify your life’s purpose. Okay, so that’s big stuff, right? But don’t worry, you don’t have to have it all figured out. I talked about your vision as a mountain, what you are moving toward in your life, what really matters to you. And then purpose as your WHY, WHY it really matters to you. And purpose is all about contributing to the world in meaningful ways, and is your why for doing what you do in life. And then with part two of the series, we focused on the path. And the idea of don’t let your dreams ruin your life. Because that can happen so often. And it’s easier than you might think. And we really focused on learning to trust the unfolding of your life and of your path. So I want you to think about your life as a path on that mountain trail. So it’s never a straight line up the side of the mountain. The path twists, and it turns and it meanders, there are detours and unexpected delays. Such is life. It’s so important to have dreams and goals in life. But we really need to be flexible and not cling to our dreams too tightly. We really must trust the timing of our life and keep big dreams in proper perspective. They are designed to help us get to the mountain. But they were never meant to carry the load of our self worth. When our dreams are asked to carry the weight of our self worth, they begin to weigh us down. And we run the risk of never making it to our destination. And now here we are with part three of our series. Priorities, you’re overwhelmed. Now what?
Dr. Melissa Smith 3:48
So first, let me say that I will use the term priorities and goals interchangeably throughout this podcast. So you may hear me go back and forth between them. But just know I’m talking about priorities. I’m talking about goals, I’m kind of talking about the same thing. So don’t, don’t let that confuse you. Hopefully, you’re not too overwhelmed. But with the start of a new year discussions of purpose and vision and dreams and goals, it is pretty understandable that you might just feel attached, overwhelmed. It’s totally understandable. But it may not be the case. But there are many reasons that we tend to get anxious when it comes to goal setting. So you know, you might experience overwhelm, because of the pressure that you feel to accomplish the goals that you’ve just set up goal, right. I mean, that’s hard, maybe you’re hard on yourself, and maybe others are hard on you. Either way the pressure can be daunting. You might feel fear. What if you aren’t successful with your goals. The potential for failure is real when it comes to goal setting and so that can be really scary goal setting also Feels very, very vulnerable. So you are stating to the world or even just your journal, you know, wherever you are putting your goal in writing what it is you want. This is incredibly vulnerable. So this, incidentally, is also why writing down and sharing your goals with others is so powerful, because it commits you to your goal. Otherwise, it’s just a gauzy dream, you know, but it’s really important to write down your goals, which we’ll talk about more. And so is it any wonder that many people avoid goal setting altogether?
Dr. Melissa Smith 5:39
Okay, and goal setting is scary. If it kicks up our vulnerability, it kicks up our pressure, it kicks up our fear of judgment, it kicks up our fear of failure, all sorts of emotions. Let’s look at some of the research on goal setting. So this is a really fascinating study. To me. This is a study that came out of Harvard, the Harvard Business School, it’s an MBA study with the Harvard graduating class of 1979. So this was a long time ago, many years ago. It’s a really seminal study on goals. And the question asked, was Have you set written goals and created a plan for their attainment? Okay, so pretty simple question. Have you set written goals, and created a plan for their attainment? And these were the results. Okay, so 84% of the entire class had no set goals at all. So that’s pretty abysmal. The majority of the class had no set goals. 13% of the class had set written goals, but had no concrete plans. So they wrote a goal, but they didn’t have any, any legs underneath that goal to accomplish the goal. And then 3% of the class had both written goals and concrete goals. So they wrote down a goal, and then they had some concrete plans to support the accomplishment of the goal. So I mean, obviously 3% is a little discouraging, especially from an Ivy League school. So you would imagine these are pretty high, high achieving individuals from Harvard Business School, right. But that’s, that’s a pretty low number. But the kicker of the study is that they did a follow up study 10 years later. And so right, they did follow up on Okay, what happens with the different students and goal setting and found that 13% that had goals, but nothing concrete, so no action plan with the goal, we’re making twice as much money as the 84% of students that had no goals. So if you just write down a goal, even without having any sort of plan, the argument is you can make twice as much money anyway, that’s what they found with this study. Okay, but now listen to this finding, but the 3%, who had their goals clearly defined, and written down, made 10 times as much as the other 97% of their class 10 times as much for having a simple goal written down, and a plan to execute that goal. That’s staggering. That result really speaks to the power of written goals, and a plan of execution. I think it’s really something to pay attention to. And the other research on goal setting science also supports that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 9:05
So now let’s talk about New Year’s resolutions. So most Americans do set new year’s resolutions 60% of Americans set new year’s resolutions. But according to the University of Scranton, a whopping 92% of individuals who set new year’s resolutions never actually achieve them. Yeah, so really, don’t even waste your time setting a New Year’s resolution. Saving money is one of the top five New Year’s resolution for most people, and also, it’s in the top five of the most commonly failed New Year’s resolution. More than half of individuals fail in their resolutions before January 31. So don’t even make it a month. The number one resolution year after Your year is, you guessed it to diet or eat healthier or to lose weight. That’s no surprise because especially in Western cultures, but America specifically, we have a lot of issues with weight and that diet mentality. I won’t even get started on that. I got a soapbox about that. So of course, you know, as I’ve been saying, All along New Year’s resolutions are a waste of time. But as you can see from the research on goal setting, goal setting, effectively, can be incredibly powerful. But most people don’t set goals effectively. And so that’s what we’re going to focus on is, and with this whole series, right, we want goals that are consistent with your purpose.
Dr. Melissa Smith 10:57
And we want to hold your goals and your dreams in proper balance and in proper perspective. But then we want to help you set goals that are going to be effective, so that you can actually accomplish them. But as I started this discussion, right, it’s understandable that goal setting can be kind of scary, right? It kicks up all of these emotions. And so people do avoid setting goals, right. So the upside is that you get to avoid these pesky problems of too much pressure, the risk of failure, vulnerability, and so on, if you don’t set goals. But of course, the downside is that you fail to reach your potential, you fail to progress on your path, and you fail to grow toward purpose. And of course, that’s not only a big loss for you personally, but the world misses out on your contribution. And that is, that’s a big loss for all of us. And so, as we clarify purpose and get clear on dreams, and then of course, outline priorities, which is the focus of the series that those things don’t have to be overwhelming, or scary. So, you know, one of my goals, right with the three part Podcast Series is to help you break down this process, and make it a bit more manageable, but also to invite you to be thoughtful and reflective about this process, which is definitely very different from how most people approach New Year’s resolutions. And you know, like I’ve already mentioned, most new year’s resolutions are made very reactively, or under pressure or with very little commitment. And they’re, you know, they’re just 101 reasons why these resolutions will never be successful. Clearly, you can see that that makes me crazy. But what makes me really sad is that, when the new year’s resolution inevitably fails you, you will see the situation in exactly the opposite way, you will believe that you have failed, you will believe that if only you could have been a bit more disciplined, you would have been successful. If only you could have been smarter, you would have succeeded. If only if only. Let me tell you this, if only this, if only you would take the time, to truly figure out what truly and deeply matters most to you. Then you could be successful on your goals. And then if only you would take the time to plant a stake in the ground, and claim a dream, a goal a pursuit that actually matters to you. Yes, I know it’s scary. Doing anything you care about is the most terrifying thing in the world. And then, if only you would build some legs under that goal with the basics of goal setting science. Then, with persistence, and work and time, you would find growth, you will not only reach your first goal, but you’ll reach many goals. You’ll fulfill many dreams, probably more than you could have ever first dreamed in the first place. And you’ll reach your mountain. You’ll fulfill purpose, and you’ll contribute to the world in meaningful ways in ways that only you can. And that’s incredible. That’s inspiring.
Dr. Melissa Smith 15:01
So now let’s break it down and help you with some solutions. Solution one, slow down the goal setting process, take the time, you need to consider your priorities for the year. So there’s really no rule that says you have to have goals by January 1. In fact, there are no rules at all, do what works for you. So if you don’t have clarity, about purpose, start there and take some time to identify even one guiding principle to help you get started. So go back and listen to podcast one, pursue what matters, and do the pursue what matters worksheet for guided direction on purpose. So that’s like, clear back to the beginning, when I started the podcast, like, back at the beginning of 2019 was like, I think it was like in March or may. There is a freebie associated with that podcast, a worksheet on purpose that can help you. And I will link to that in the show notes, and even identify one guiding principles to help you get started. I like to take all of January to determine my goals for the year. So I start with a list of maybe 12 potential goals. And then I usually work it down to like seven or 10. And I’ll write them all down, and then review them. And I’ll cross them off the list. And I’ll add others to the list. And this is pay attention to what speaks to you and what repels you, what are you like, I don’t want to do that. Like, I’m not feeling the love on that goal. So are there goals that you’ve already committed to are their goals that you’re excited about? do certain goals mutually exclude other goals, so you got to pay attention to that, like, if you do one goal, does it mean you can’t do another one. So you got to pay attention to that. And be wise when in doubt, do less. When in doubt, do less. And then also balance your goals throughout the year. So prioritize like two to three goals per quarter, throughout the year. Otherwise, you’ll overwhelm yourself and we do not want you to get overwhelmed, right. But that’s, that’s the thing we’re trying to avoid.
Dr. Melissa Smith 17:32
Okay, solution two goal setting criteria. So I’ve got three points here for you. The first point is goal should be challenging, yet achievable. So your goal should make you a little bit nervous, they should be challenging, in order to be effective. goals should be specific and challenging. Okay, so that’s kind of the balance specific and challenging. Point two goals should be targeted goals should have a specific target or standard against which to measure success. So you’ve got to be really specific when you identify those goals. So remember, those 3% of Harvard business students were very specific about their goals. So they identified a goal, but then they had a very specific action plan. So you should leave no doubt about the plan for your goal, and how to accomplish it. So it it’s kind of a roadmap. And you think about your goal, and you think about the path. It’s a roadmap for you, it helps you to know how am I going to get from here to there.
Dr. Melissa Smith 18:48
And that is point three goals should have a clear action plan. Have an action plan for ensuring the success of your goals? Is there a clear path forward? Can you break the goal down into specific steps for accomplishment. So this is your roadmap, this tells you step by step, what you need to do. This is also a really important way to manage overwhelm. Now sometimes, it can feel counterintuitive, because it’s like, okay, listening, all those steps can feel really overwhelming. But you only have to focus on one step at a time. And so right we get that we get that map in place, we get that action plan in place, and then we zero in on the step that you’re that you’re at in that moment. And it is a really good way to help you manage overwhelm and it’s like I don’t have to climb this whole mountain right now. I just have I just have to get around this bend. What’s going to help me get around this bend? Who do I need to call? What do I need to learn? What is the skill set that’s going to help me get around this bend. And so that action plan is kind of big, bigger picture that then use zero in your focus for that step by step action plan.
Dr. Melissa Smith 20:16
Solution, three, write down all of your goals in detail, in excruciating detail. So this really goes hand in hand with this clear action plan, the more detail, the better. So I would suggest utilizing the smart framework. So smart is an acronym. S is for specific, and is for measurable. A is for attainable. R is for realistic, T is for timely. So in the freebie I will include all of these details. So you can use this as a handy reference for you as you do your goal setting. But the smart framework can be really helpful. So you want your goals to fit within this framework, because then you know, it, it fits some pretty good criteria to help you to be successful. You don’t want goals that are really gauzy that are, you know, that are fuzzy and that we don’t know, when you’ve accomplished them. We want them very specific. We want them very targeted. We want them to have a very clear action plan.
Dr. Melissa Smith 21:35
Solution four review your priorities on the daily, you heard that right on the daily. How do you know where you’re headed, if you aren’t reviewing your map regularly, this might seem unnecessary. But I promise you, it’s very necessary. Review your goals every single day, I review my goals every single morning. It’s really important to help maintain alignment with purpose. And think about it as right. So we’ve been talking about this map. Think about it also as your compass. And like Okay, do I still have my compass aligned with the mountain or true north. And it’s always important to recalibrate and make sure that you are in alignment.
Dr. Melissa Smith 22:24
Solution five, review your progress on goals each week, be honest with yourself about progress and stalls. So this is where we want to think about the Stockdale paradox This is named after the highest ranking a US military officer in the Hanoi Hilton during World War Two. And he talked about what was required of those survivors in that prison camp. And he it is a paradox. But he said you have to have enduring faith that you can be successful, and that you will prevail. But you must also be brutally honest with yourself and others about the realities you face. And so how does this apply to reviewing your progress on your goals each week? You cannot lie to yourself or others. Don’t avoid it don’t justify don’t explain. So I heard this from Chad Packard who is a friend and a partner in a local venture fund here in Salt Lake. And I guess this comes from his MBA program that he said, If you find yourself explaining, it’s too late. So whether that’s to yourself or to other people, don’t lie to yourself, don’t lie to others. And so you really, you know, you have to have faith that you’ll be successful with your goals. But you also have to be brutally honest with yourself about the realities you face. And so it’s really important to review your progress on your goals each week and to be honest with yourself about your progress and your stalls so that you can rely and recalibrate.
Dr. Melissa Smith 24:14
Okay, solution six include both achievement goals and habit goals. So achievement goals are those one time outcome goals such as you know, write the great American novel, whereas habit goals are ongoing consistency goals, such as strength training exercise two to four times per week for 20 to 40 minutes each session. And by the way with that consistency goal. Do you see how specific that is? There’s no question what that goal includes. So that’s the kind of targeted specificity that we want in our goals. But when it comes to habit and achievement goals, both are really valuable and of course, ongoing training. Accountability is crucial for each. When it comes to these habit goals, we want you to track accountability through time because it’s all about consistency. So there are lots of tracking apps available. So like habit share, that you can also do that very simply like in a planner or on your phone with tick marks. So do what works for you. But definitely track your accountability and your consistency, especially on those habit goals that can be very helpful for establishing a habit. And this idea of you know, it taking 21 days to establish a habit takes a lot longer than that. Some say like 66 days, but the research is actually more like 70 to 8190 days, it takes a while takes a while. So be willing to just, you know, crank it in, drive on low gear, and get after it.
Dr. Melissa Smith 25:59
Okay, solution, seven have a goal that totally freaking scares you, for real. So stretch goals can really help you push yourself, they push your limits of what you think is possible. And though you may not always accomplish these stretch goals, they do stretch you in important ways to achieve more than you thought possible. And you know, who knows, you may just accomplish the goal. So plus they provide an excellent opportunity to learn and to fail forward. So they help you to build resilience and to be open to grow. So from Cheryl Strayed, she said, “Hello fear, thank you for being here You are my indication that I’m doing what I need to do.” So I think you should always have a big goal that really scares you. And it’s the setting of these big goals that matters way more than whether you actually accomplish it. But it’s it’s the process of who you become. It’s the effort of accomplishing these goals that really matters. And you can learn a lot about yourself in that process.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:08
Solution, eight, have fun with your goals, just like you should have goal, have a goal that really clenches your sphincter muscles, you should also have some fun and exciting goals. So they don’t need to be dreary and miserable. So of course goals challenge us and push us to grow. But they can also be exciting and fun. So make sure you have some fun goals included such as salsa dancing, or you know, like learning to make salsa. So life is meant to be lived fully and enjoyed fully. And goals certainly can help us to do that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 27:42
Solution nine, be willing to abandon a goal that no longer serves you. It’s totally okay to pivot on a goal that no longer works for you. So I’ve definitely done that plenty over the course of a year, I just have a couple of things to say about this one. So if you are indeed taking the time at the start of the year, then you are less likely to abandon goals as you move forward. Because you know, you should be pretty settled on on kind of your vision for the year. But what is also true is that your path is winding and does have unexpected turns. And sometimes this requires you to push pause on one goal so that you can open yourself to you know, unexpected opportunities that you could not have planned for. But take time to get clear with yourself about your reasons for dropping a goal, or sidelining a goal first. So some of the questions that could be helpful include, is it due to fear? Is it due to avoidance? Are you justifying anything? Does the goal really not align with your purpose? So you might be you might be really well justified in dropping the goal. But just do a self assessment first. So from Cheryl Strayed again, “don’t surrender all your joy for an idea you used to have about yourself, that isn’t true anymore.” So sometimes you get along your path and you realize you know what, this goal does not serve me anymore. And that’s okay. It’s okay to make peace with that and leave it on the side of the trail. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Dr. Melissa Smith 29:40
Okay, and solution 10. Just keep breathing. Everyday in and out. Right. It’s the daily climb that matters. You just you need to be steady. If you’re going to get to the top of the mountain you’ve got to be steady with your breathing. You’ve got to be steady with your habits. You can do great things, one step at a time. And so I hope you will just pace yourself, I hope you’ll be gentle with yourself. And I hope you will just be consistent. And that truly is, is one of the most important things to keep in mind when it comes to moving forward in your life. And certainly with goal setting, just be consistent. Just do what you can every day, the small step, the daily climb is what matters to daily climb, moving in the right direction, moving toward the mountain, is what matters. So I hope that you feel empowered, and not overwhelmed. That is the goal. I hope that you never set another new year’s resolution. That’s definitely one of my goals. And I hope that you will head on over to the show notes and download the freebie, the goal setting 101 freebie because it will it has all of the great details that I discussed in this podcast to really help you break down the process so that you’re not overwhelmed. And that you can start identifying some goals that really fit for you and for your life. Even if it’s just one or two goals. That’s awesome. Just start where you are. That’s what we’re that’s what we’re all about just small, consistent efforts, over time can make a huge difference. Think about that Harvard study, small consistent efforts make a huge difference.
Dr. Melissa Smith 31:48
So make sure you head on over to my website to check out the show notes with all the great resources for this episode at www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-36. One more time, that’s www.drmelissasmith.com/episode-36. So there you will find the show notes, of course. And then I also have a link there to waitlist for a brand new ecourse that I’m so excited about. I’m so excited to tell you about this. I will, you’ll hear more about it upcoming but it’s a confidence to lead ecourse that we’ll be launching later this year. I’m so excited about it. It’s all about helping you have the skills, the mindset, and the confidence to really lead in love and work. And it’s awesome. Also, at the shownotes is the link to the goal setting freebie. And then of course, the link to the other two podcasts in the three part series. So if you haven’t checked those out, definitely go back and listen to those. And then of course the link to the very first podcast the pursue what matters podcast and the freebie there, which can be helpful for you if you want a deeper dive into purpose, that can be helpful as well. And then of course you can subscribe on iTunes and Spotify. And if you take some time and review the podcast let me know what you think about it. It would be very helpful helps other people to find the podcast and then of course I’m on Instagram @dr.melissasmith and I’d love to hear from you there as well. I’m Dr. Melissa Smith. Remember love and work or can love. That’s all there is. Until next time, take good care
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