The Big Idea
Questions I Answer
- How do I set better goals?
- How can I figure out if a goal is right for me?
- How can I make a big shift or change?
- What can I do if I need to do something different?
Actions to Take
- Please Note: Unfortunately, the download mentioned in this episode is no longer available.
Key Topics in the Show
Mapping out your goals based on the different categories in your life to ensure success
How to focus on one goal at a time to avoid feeling overextended
Evaluating your goals (and WHY you set them in the first place)
5 powerful reminders you’ll need to help you refresh and embrace change
Resources and Links
- Related Episodes:
Welcome to season eight of Productivity Paradox with Tanya Dalton. A podcast focused on using productivity not just to do more, but to achieve what’s most important to you. Join Tanya this season as she focuses on planning for success using proven productivity strategies. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. To get her free checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.
And now here’s your host Tanya Dalton.
Hello, hello, everyone. Welcome to Productivity Paradox. I’m your host, Tanya Dalton, and this is episode 104. Today also happens to be the last episode of season eight, where we’ve been talking about planning for success. Now I don’t know if you’ve ever noticed this or not, but in the final episode of every season, I like to pull everything together and really kind of tie it up together in a nice little bow.
Today we’re calling it Ready, Reflect, Refresh. We’re going to recap some of the highlights from the season, add in some new info, and get you motivated to tackle that goal, the project, the dream, that thing that you have in your head that you just absolutely want to do in the year ahead.
As I’m recording this episode, we’ve just gotten past the holiday, and we’ve rounded the corner into a brand-new year. That’s a good time to stop thinking about someday and start thinking about today, because if you keep waiting for that imaginary eighth day of the week called someday, then life is going to pass you by. So let’s stop thinking about someday and start thinking about the here and now, the present. If you’re listening to this in, say April, guess what? That’s a good time to stop thinking about someday too.
Listen, there’s nothing magical about January. Goals can be set any time of the year. Don’t feel boxed in to believing that you can only set goals once a year. Any time is a good time to set goals. Let’s start by talking about getting ready. Now, just because it’s the new year, it doesn’t mean that you have to turn all of your goals into New Year’s resolutions. In fact, research by the University of Scranton show that only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually accomplish those goals. That’s not very good odds, is it?
We want to get into that 8% category. We want to beat the odds, right? So what can we do to increase our chances of succeeding? Well, first of all, it’s good to remember that goals come in many different sizes, many different shapes. Goals can be big, like starting your own business or writing that book you’ve always talked about. But they can also be task-related, like losing 15 pounds or cleaning out the garage. Or they can be project-related, like tackling the renovation project that you’ve had on your to-do list for forever. We all have things on our list like that.
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Goals can also be habit-related, without an exact end date at all, like eating healthier or trying to maintain your finances better, or maybe having a certain intake of water every day. Regardless though of the size of the goal, there’s one thing you need to do to get yourself off to a good start, and that’s mapping out your goals. Remember that I like to categorize life into three basic buckets, work, home, and personal. The work bucket is anything that you consider your “job.” That might be going into an office, or maybe you work full-time out of your home. Or it could be that you’re a stay-at-home parent or the CEO of your home, as I like to call it. You could also be a student. Or maybe you have a few part-time things going on. Or you work part-time or going back to school. Basically, it’s where you spend most of your time and energy during the daytime hours. That’s what I consider your work bucket.
The personal bucket is related to external and internal relationships and interactions that you might have. External relationships are those that are outside of yourself, like connections with your significant other or your family, your friends, your
colleagues, or just basically the world around you. Internal relationships are things that are centered around the relationship with yourself, which is a very important relationship. These might be life goals, hobbies, health-related things. And then we have the home bucket. That revolves around the tasks and the projects that just help life run smoothly. This includes things like household chores, organizational goals, running kids to various activities, managing your finances, keeping up with daily life. Home is an important category because it helps us feel safe and secure. I think that’s obviously really important.
When you’re working on your goal-setting, start by listing out your different goals and dreams, and figure out what bucket they fit into. The next step is to prioritize those goals within each bucket. Then the last thing is to pick a goal from one bucket to focus on. That way you can really lean into one area of your life and still maintain harmony with the other buckets, and not feel like you’ve overextended yourself. You might be wondering, well, why can’t I just pick a goal from each bucket and focus on those? Well, you could but you know how I feel about mono-tasking and how it’s way more productive than multitasking.
Focusing on one goal and pouring your time and resources there, you can get more accomplished than spreading yourself too thin by trying to do teeny little bits of a bunch of different areas. When you try to do too many things at once, or you say yes to too many things, you end up overextended, exhausted, feeling like you spent a whole lot of time and energy accomplishing a whole lot of nothing. There’s not a lot worse than that.
Let’s think about those three buckets literally just for a second. Imagine all three have some water in them, representing the time, the energy, and the focus that you pour into each of these areas of your life. You have to carry all three buckets at once in order to get through life’s daily ups and downs. All three, they’re really important. You’d probably put a bucket in each hand and maybe one on your head to evenly distribute them, right? Let’s pretend now that your goals are one-pound rocks. They have some weight to them because, well, they’re important.
If you think about it, if you jam too many of these rocks, these goals into all three of your buckets and then you try to pour in more time, energy, and focus that
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the goals require, essentially filling them to the brim with water, it’s really going to weight you down. The water is going to be splashing everywhere. You’re going to end up with a mess, water everywhere except for where it really needs to be, where you really want to focus. It’s going to get really hard to get through life with those three heavy buckets spilling. It’s going to be so difficult to get anything accomplished with all that weight bearing down on your head and shoulders.
Let’s reset and think it through again. Same buckets, but this time I want you to focus on one bucket and throw a few goals in there, those one-pound rocks. Then go ahead and load it up with your time and energy and focus, you know, your water. This time you have one bucket that’s full. But the other two, they’re not weighing you down nearly as much. You could probably manage that one full bucket without feeling too fatigued or unstable because you’re able to really adjust. Because now your other two hands aren’t quite as overloaded, and they can help steady you when you start to fall over. Plus, if one of the other buckets suddenly needs your attention, you can pour some of the water out of the full bucket into that other bucket and continue on your way.
Leaning into one of these three buckets of our lives, that’s how you maintain harmony in life and not feel overwhelmed and overextended. Now, do I want you only to fill one bucket forever? No. Absolutely not. Because if you only focused on work and not your personal or home goals, for example, your life would feel so out of harmony. It would feel unbalanced, really. Sometimes we need to change our focus in order to maintain harmony within the other areas of our lives. Sometimes we don’t have a choice. Sometimes life throws us a curveball that forces us to focus in on something we hadn’t really intended on.
Let’s say you’re working on a professional or a work-related goal and then you’re hospitalized, and you’re unable to work for months. In that situation, you’d need to adjust your focus from your work bucket to your personal bucket until your health was in a better place. And then you could go back to that work bucket. The key here is really dividing your goals into those three buckets, prioritizing them, and then picking one area of your life to lean in on at a time.
If you want help with this, I would recommend that you check out our goal setting and achieving blueprint to help you out with that. That’s a free download that I mentioned a couple episodes back, but I’ll go ahead and put it in today’s show notes. You can download that at inkWELLpress.com/podcast and look under episode 104. You can grab it there. It’s free, and that might help you really understand which one of these buckets you really want to focus on.
Now, once you’ve picked your area you want to focus on and you’re ready for your goals, it’s time to go to the next step. We need to stop and reflect. Why do we need to do this? Well, because goals don’t work on autopilot. You can’t spend time getting ready for your goals and then take a nap for several hours and hope that you’ve landed safely in Phoenix with your goals reached and maybe a bottle of celebratory champagne waiting for you while you peel off your eye mask. Boy, that sounds nice. But that’s just not how goals work unfortunately. It’s just not that easy.
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They require perseverance and some nurturing because, well, life happens. You have to check in on your goals from time to time and make sure they’re still what you really want. Has anything changed? Is anything different? Do you need to adjust? I think checking in every three months or so is really helpful in keeping us moving forward in a positive direction. That’s one of the reasons why we have a quarterly goal section in the planner. We want to make sure you’re regularly checking in, and we want to schedule that time very intentionally to reflect on our journey.
Here’s a few things to consider with your goals when you’re in the reflection mode. The first thing is, does the why still apply? Be sure your why is still applicable. In other words, why are you doing this? Why will this goal change your life or your business, your dreams, your finances, whatever it’s really tied to? What is your why? Do you have the same answer now as you had when you first set the goal? Or do you need to reassess things? If your why has changed from wanting to do something to feeling like you have to do it, then it might be time to reevaluate. It’s better to pursue goals and dreams because you want to, not because you have to, not because it’s out of a necessity or an obligation.
Make sure your goal is something you really want. A lot of times our wants change and that’s okay if it does. The second thing to consider is, are your goals really SMART? We want to make sure your goals are specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding, and timed. Now, if something’s missing or maybe things have changed in your life, you may need to adjust your goals to be more reasonable. If you set goals that are out of your reach, you’re not setting yourself up for success. Now, we want to stretch ourselves. We want to be able to stretch out of our comfort zone and push ourselves, but we don’t want them to be so far away that they are unattainable.
Make sure that your goals are still fitting that SMART framework, and if they’re not, this is when we talk about that power of the pivot. We talked about this last week in episode 103. Allow yourself the grace to pivot when you need to with your goals. I think that’s really important. The third thing to consider is to look back, but move forward. When you reflect on your goals you’re working towards, it’s very beneficial to look backwards in order to decide how you want to move forward. Make sure you look for the positives and the negatives in your journey. Ask yourself what went well and what went wrong. What would you do the same? What would you change?
Figure out if you want to continue along the same path or if you need to consider a different one. Whether you stay on the same course or you alter your direction, the goal of looking back is not to dwell on the past, but to figure out how to keep on moving forward, and moving forward in the direction you really truly want. The fourth thing to consider with reflection is to stop and smell those roses. Reflecting on your journey shouldn’t just be an assessment of your failures or your shortcomings. Remember I’m a huge fan of celebrating your successes. Remind yourself of the milestones that you’ve reached and what the next milestone might be. I think it’s just as important to celebrate our wins as it is to learn from our mistakes or to pivot from adversity.
Celebrating success, that’s what keeps us motivated and really wanting to reach that next mile marker or to accomplish that next step. Take the time, smell the
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roses, maybe even do a celebration dance. Treat yourself to something nice, and then keep on moving forward. If you stop and you assess things and you feel like you’re on the right path and moving in the right direction with a clear plan, that’s fabulous. I applaud you. I’m so happy for you. But you still want to take a quick moment to celebrate your successes so far. Because when you have a great momentum and a positive energy, celebrating the milestones you’ve reached, that just reinforces the success and it keeps you maintaining that forward momentum.
Now, if you assess things and you aren’t really sure you’re on the right path, that’s a good time to make some changes, and it’s time for that third step, hitting the refresh button. Let me get one thing out of the way because I think this is really important. I need you to hear me on this. Ready? Here it is. Making changes to your original plan doesn’t mean you’ve failed. It certainly doesn’t mean you’ve done something wrong. Remember, a change is okay. Learning from our mistakes is okay. Realizing you need to take a different path, it’s okay. Goals need to be altered to allow for success.
Here are five reminders to help you refresh and embrace a little bit of change. The first thing is, be flexible. Remember, you need to have a flexible mindset in order to go with the flow and be able to roll with the punches because there will be punches. If you’re flexible and you know that curveballs will come your way and obstacles are going to land in your path, you’re more likely to accept that sometimes change is inevitable.
The second reminder is, focus on what you can control. Along our journey, there’s some obstacles that you can and there are obstacles that you can’t control. For example, you can’t control the weather or an illness. But you can control how you spend that 30 minutes at lunch, or whether you veg out on the couch trolling around on social media. Or if you use that 30 minutes to go to the gym. Focus on things that are in your control.
The third thing to remember is to cut your losses. Don’t let cost bias drag you down. Remember we talked about cost several times on the podcast. I have an entire episode dedicated to it, episode 16, because this is something that causes a lot of people to really get off track. It’s often that we have really poured in a lot of our blood, sweat, and tears into something. It’s really, really hard to let it go. It’s really hard. I know that from my own personal experience. I’m sure you’ve had times in your life where you’ve had this too. But it’s really hard too if we’ve poured money into it. But remember it’s okay to cut your losses. In fact, you’re actually smarter and wiser if you acknowledge that throwing more time, money, resources, whatever it is at something that’s not going to serve you is just throwing good after the bad. If you can cut your losses and pivot, you can save yourself a lot of frustration in the long run. It feels hard in the moment, but eventually you’ll see that that was really the best choice. When we have that sunk cost bias, it can be really hard to see our path. Remember to cut those losses.
The fourth thing to remember is, think about your future self. Sometimes it’s hard to visualize our future self because psychologically, we see our future self as a stranger instead of a version of our self. We talked about that study several episodes back when we talked about the future self. But you can ask yourself, what would life
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look like if you achieved your goals? Start with that end in mind. Then that will help you visualize the path you need to take and the milestones you need to reach in order to get there.
And then the fifth reminder is, remember the power of the pivot. Adversity doesn’t have to be the enemy. It can actually be your best friend. When you’re faced with any obstacle, you can use that moment to pivot and create a whole new path for yourself or change direction. Don’t allow obstacles to defeat you. Use them as a springboard instead. When it comes to your goals, turn tragedy into triumph by allowing yourself to pivot. Last week we talked a lot about this idea of the power of the pivot and how it really can, not just change the trajectory of your goals, but it can change your life in so many positive ways.
I want to encourage you to really embrace that idea of the pivot and feel okay about it. Because I think that’s one of the things that happens is we feel guilty, or we feel like we have failed when we pivot, when actually pivoting could be the key to our own success. So if you’re looking for a helpful tool to help you readjust your goals, remember there’s a goal-setting adjustment page that’s in my goal-setting planner that helps you tweak your goals, set a new timeline, get back on track. That’s the key here. We want to get back on track. Life is going to happen. Obstacles are going to be in our path, but we’re able to ready, reflect, and refresh in order to really achieve our goals.
Here’s what I want to close this season with. What would life be like if you didn’t just set your goals, but you actually achieved them? How would life feel if you had some serious wins in your column? Would you feel happier, more confident? Would you feel stronger? Yes. Yes, you would. Here’s what I want you to remember. Your goals are not outside of reach. Yes, even the big ones. Even the almost impossibly sized ones. The ability to achieve your goals, it isn’t a superpower. It’s not a power only certain people possess. You can do this. I promise you, you can. Take a deep breath and make this next year your year.
I want to remind you. Head over to grab that free goal-setting and achieving blueprint that I mentioned. Just go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast. It’ll be there under episode 104. And I also want to give you the heads up that my five-week course, The liveWELL Method, that’s going to be opening up very soon for a very limited time. To be in the know on the course opening and the special bonuses that go with it, just go to inkWELLpress.com/course.
Now, next week we’re starting a whole brand-new season with a brand-new topic. Here’s a little hint. We’re going to keep this momentum going that we’ve had this season. The feedback I’ve gotten from so many of you has been fantastic. So I’ve got a fabulous season planned for you. I cannot wait for you to tune in and find out more. I’ll be revealing that next week. Until then, have a beautiful and productive week.
Thanks for listening to Productivity Paradox. To get free access to Tanya’s valuable checklist, Five Minutes To Peak Productivity, simply go to inkWELLpress.com/podcast.