What is UP my friends and fellow busybees. We have made it to the last month of 2022 which feels kind of surreal because I could have sworn it was July just yesterday but look at us now! Time is absolutely flying these days and year after year it seems to go quicker. I’ve actually heard that that is a real phenomenon as you get older because we tend to do less and less new things as we age and essentially our days are filled with more or less of the same shit so the days seem to roll into each other and don’t really differentiate themselves in our brain quite as much.
Which is a bit of a bummer, because like, why are we stopping trying new things and just sitting in our comfort zones more and more as we get older? I suppose once things get busy with work, friends, family, kids, hobbies, trying to feed, clothe, hydrate, relax, work out and enjoy ourselves… things can get busy. And it’s probably pretty easy for a month, maybe a quarter, a year, or even a decade… just sort of slip away through the day-to-day hustle of trying to get everything done that we want to. But again, who wants to blink their lives away and not really have anything to look back on?
One way that I work to combat this is by goal setting and setting intentions for the year ahead to ensure I’m working on creating those new habits, having those new experiences, and moving forward myself, my business, my finances, and my life more generally. I mentioned last week in my Friday Furniture Focus newsletter that I have an approach to goal setting that I’ve used for the last 7 years or so that has really worked for me and I’m not sure if it’s a common way to goal set, so I wanted to bring it here to my busybees because I know you will likely be putting together some goals and resolutions in the coming weeks.
If you haven't heard already, the Friday Furniture Focus newsletter is a weekly newsletter I send out that gives updates on any projects that I have ongoing, shares furniture facts which are different tidbits about the furniture that you’re making over, or a furniture fix which is a hack or a tip for saving time and effort doing your furniture flips. And every week I feature a new furniture painter or refinisher and do a Q&A to get to know them, their pieces, and their business better. So if you’re interested in receiving this, you can head to my website MelDidItHerself.ca to sign up and then keep an eye on your inbox.
But personally, I like to start thinking about and creating these goals well before New Year’s Day. Why? Because that time of year always ends up being so busy with the holidays and time off and seeing family and friends and eating and drinking more than usual– which leaves me exhausted, tired, maybe a little worn out, and feeling too full and maybe even hungover. Not a great headspace to be in as I plan out my year ahead and my intentions for success, you know what I mean?
And the earlier I start thinking about it, the more I have it top of mind as I move through the weeks preceding the holidays so I can be more intentional with identifying areas in my life for improvement or things I want to accomplish in the near future or things I’d like to work towards longer-term. So I try to start setting aside some time in early December to do this and like to have them written down around mid-December.
And what’s maybe more shocking is that… guess what? I don’t wait until January 1st of the new year to start taking action on those goals. Because why would I? That’s the equivalent to me of saying “I’m going to start a diet on Monday, but for the next 4 days I’m going to eat as horribly as I want to”. Errm… no. Diets don’t work anyways, but setting a starting date in the future feels very counterintuitive and gives you the opportunity to change your mind or lose the momentum you were feeling towards that goal before that start date that you chose so… once you think of it, start to live it and work towards it. There’s no day like the present!
Alright so now let’s dive into how I go about setting my goals– and this is an approach that one of my best friends told me years ago because she would do it with the real estate agent she worked for– shout out to Nick Fundytus from Royal LePage Performance Realty, if you’re in Ottawa and looking for a house, give him a shout he’s a super nice guy– so I don’t know where Nick got it originally but that’s as far back as I can trace it.
And if you have the ability to do so right now, grab a pen and paper or open up a Google doc or the Notes app on your phone– something you’ll refer back to– and write these out as I go through them. Get that goal setting done early along with me!
Because YES, you need to write your goals out. It’s the only way you can look back, remind yourself, and stay accountable longer term because no matter how great your memory is, you’re going to either forget or you will file it away at the back of your mind and not remember to come back to remind yourself of these. So no exceptions here– write that shit down.
Also, it is fun to be able to look back years down the road and see what you had set for goals and to see how you’ve grown since. Honestly, that’s the biggest reason I love to write these down. Alright, so how do we approach this?
So essentially, you’re setting goals within different categories of your life: Family, Work, Financial, Personal and Spiritual/Wellbeing. You can set one per category, but I try to do at least 2-3 to make sure I’m addressing every facet of my life. And then within each category, you set 6 month goals and 12 month/1 year goals.
Let me tell you why I like this approach, and then we can talk a little bit more about the categories themselves and what they encompass. What I like most about it is that it forces me to take a step back and consider all areas of my life, and set intentions within all of them. And sometimes that means sitting down and really thinking up what some are that I can set, because I might have one thing that comes to mind really quickly but I force myself to do 2-3 within each category because I think we can all think of one thing, at a minimum, really easily when you say Finances or Work or Family. Chances are there’s something you’ve been putting off, or have a resolution or goal that fell off after a bit last year that you didn’t maintain, or something that’s currently a bit chaotic in that category that you could write down. But once that’s off the table, it has you thinking through your life a little more critically, and like I said sometimes you need to move through life a bit before you think something up that’s worth noting down.
So the holistic approach to this method of goal setting is what really does it for me, because I’m someone who has a lot of ideas all of the time but don’t always slow down and laser focus on certain areas more specifically, so this forces me to do so. I also really like having the 6 month goals and 1 year goals, because breaking these goals down into smaller, bite sized pieces makes them more sustainable. It also keeps them manageable and top of mind throughout the year, instead of thinking about them a lot for the first 2 and a half weeks of January and then forgetting about them completely until the last week of December when you’re reminded to create new ones.
And sometimes the 6- and 12-month goals will be like, a broken down version of the same goal– for example, my 12 month goal being to go on 4 trips outside the province and my 6 month goal being to have accomplished 2 of them so far throughout the year. But sometimes I just want to set smaller, shorter, more easily achievable goals that would only require 6 months of time. So I’m just going to set those, not stretch them out for 12 months because then I’m just wasting my own time when I could otherwise have those other 6 months open and available to achieving new and different things.
It’s whatever works best for you and you know you’ll stick to, but I know that doing it this way makes me feel less like I’m trying to force myself to adhere to invisible rules and instead tailor it to me and my brain and my way of working. But in order to do that, you do need to be honest with yourself and your shortcomings and what things usually get in your way of succeeding, and take those into account during this process so you can avoid them.
So let’s talk about these categories. First up let’s talk about Work. I feel like this is an area that people can pretty easily think up goals in this category– I want to get promoted to this position, I want to learn this new skill to get this new position, I want to get a raise to X amount (I guess that could also fall under the Financial category, but whatever works for you), or maybe it’s that you want to shop around for another employer. Whatever initially comes to mind, definitely do that, but then think a little more critically about other goals you could set.
So think shorter term like what am I currently working towards, but also think longer-term like way down the road, if you have an idea of where you’re headed and where you want to be, what are the things you can do or take on or seek out or learn about now that will set you up for success and get you closer to that thing you’re aiming for?
Breaking these bigger things down into smaller, surmountable tasks will help you to realize that no matter how big or unreachable that thing that you would love to achieve is, it really is possible if you just give yourself a realistic amount of time, are consistent in your pursuit of it, and break it down into smaller pieces… oh, and believing in yourself and being confident in your abilities and that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. That’s important too. And really, all of those things go for all of these goals in all of the categories, not just Work, if you didn’t already put 2 and 2 together.
Next, let’s talk about Financial. Again, this is a category that people usually have something that immediately comes to mind that they either need to do or need to not do in order to get themselves into a better financial situation. Because I’m going to go ahead and assume that ultimately, everyone is aiming to have at least a little bit more money. So there’s likely something along those lines– I’ll get this credit card or line of credit paid off, or I’ll commit to putting X amount on it every month or biweekly in order to get it paid off, or again, you could put a goal here that you will get your salary or hourly wage to a certain dollar amount.
With the Financial category, I like to think of it in two ways. First, in terms of having things that I’m working towards. For example, one goal that I had had this year that didn’t end up coming to fruition (because instead I opted for quite the change in lifestyle and employment) was to have a housing investment, because I want to (and absolutely will, just not in 2022) have a house or condo but ideally house or cottage that we buy as more of a fixer upper and do some renos and redecorating. Because A) we love that shit, B) it’s a great financial investment that could turn into passive income, and also C) it’s a great opportunity for content on my social media platforms as well, like Instagram, TikTok, YouTube, and Pinterest (username is MelDidItHerself on all 4 if you wanna gimme a follow, shameless plug alert).
But under the Financial category I also like to think of more day-to-day or week-to-week things that I can change or add or switch out that are tangible things that will help to improve my financial situation or that are benchmarks to hit along the way. So it might be something like, I will only allow myself to order UberEats once per week max, if I found myself ordering far more often than I would like to and knew that it was impacting my finances substantially and I wanted to increase the amount I was saving each month. Or maybe you just have been kind of living paycheque to paycheque and buying random things that you know you don’t ultimately really need or want and you would prefer to have an Emergency Fund available in case shit hit the fan, so you might decide that you’re going to instead put X amount into your Savings account the second you receive your pay and then you’re going to pretend that that money no longer exists or is dispensable to you, unless it’s an emergency.
So just get crafty in the way that you think about this category– again, it doesn’t necessarily mean it has to relate to your wealth or the accumulation of it, too! It could be something like “I will donate X amount each month to a certain charity, or to a different organization each month that I support” and then list out 12 charities or organizations that you believe in and support the cause of. Or, again, this could be an opportunity to create some boundaries for yourself if you find that you’re often bailing out people in your life like family or friends or lending them money that you often don’t see coming back to you… maybe this is a chance to make a fresh start and put yourself and your finances first. I don’t know, I don’t live your life or know what’s right for you, but just want to give you some food for thought as you approach these categories and the intentions you set for 2023.
The Spiritual/Wellbeing category is one that I really appreciate the inclusion of, because this is definitely the category that I personally know I didn’t put enough thought and intention into historically, because when I was setting goals I would just instinctively think of things that would fall under the Work, Financial, and maybe Personal category. So depending on you and your views or religion or definition of wellbeing and spirituality, this can look SO many different ways. Maybe you want to commit to being more intentional with your religious practices, maybe you want to get more in tune with your spiritual side and start meditating a few minutes a day, maybe you know that eating a certain way makes you feel really great and energized so you want to commit to doing that for X amount of days a week or for a certain meal in your day. Maybe you want to finally seek out a therapist and do therapy to address some things in your past you want to move forward from. Maybe you have a fitness goal you want to achieve, like being able to do X amount of pushups at once or doing a 10K run.
I just took a look back at some of them that I have set in this category over the years, and this is a category that some goals that I set are maybe better categorized as “intentions” because they’re not SMART Goals (SMART the acronym, so Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based). However, they are good reminders for me to have when I do look back on the goals I wrote out and can be like, “hey, have I actually been doing this thing I said I wanted to?, for example, last year one of mine was to continue writing in my gratitude journal. Now, that’s not something I do every single day but I do keep it out and within sight and whenever I feel the inclination to, or if I have a big milestone or something I want to celebrate, or something small and menial that especially touched my heart or I’m feeling appreciative of, I’ll pick it up and add to it. But if I look at my goals and see that and then look at the journal and the last entry was 6 months ago, well, then I’m not staying very true to my intentions, right?
Some things within this category that I’ve done in the past are: try a new event that pushes me physically (so I did a Mud Run… one day, would love to train for a Tough Mudder or Spartan Race!), going for walks and hikes more frequently, upkeep a notebook with Mohawk teachings that I would maintain whenever I met with elders and put time into my week to do research to learn more about my heritage, sweating 3x per week (which is my preferred way to ensure I’m staying active– I don’t like to do things like “get my weight to this amount” and those kind of goals because I don’t find them to be healthy focuses for me, but if I’m doing things that are making me sweat then I know I’m working my body and getting a good workout in in one shape or form), or I’ve also had the goal to take a class once a week, like a yoga or spin or barre or kickboxing or whatever it is that I’m into at the time. If I keep it more vague, I’m more likely to do it because my brain is *stubborn* (or maybe that’s just me) and that way I feel in control still within the parameters that I’ve set for myself.
The next category is Family, and because everyone’s family or what they define as such is so vastly different, there can be so many approaches to this one. For me, I like to set intentions like calling my mom once per week, visiting home a minimum of X times per year, and to catch up with X relatives that I haven’t chatted with or spent time with recently. I live about 5 hours away from where I grew up and where a lot of my family still lives (and the others are all kind of strewn about in different geographical areas), so I have very much set up my own life here in Ottawa and have friends that I consider family, too. All that to say, life can get busy in the day-to-day here and months can go by quickly and I can realize it’s been forEVER since I made a trip back home to visit, so my brain just needs me to put numbers to it so I can visualize how I’ll fit that into my year.
It maybe sounds a little methodical and impersonal to write something like that when it comes to your family, but hey, it works. So remember that when you’re setting these goals and intentions– don’t worry about what it would look like if someone found your paper or your Google Doc, just be honest with yourself on what you need to set yourself up for success and the life you want to have this year. It’s for you, and anything outside of that doesn’t matter. If you need to write a goal to brush your teeth twice a day as a reminder to do so, then do it! Nobody here is judging you.
Then the last category is Personal, which is essentially anything that doesn’t otherwise fall into the other categories. So this could be goals in relation to your friendships or other relationships like your romantic partner, this could be personal goals you set surrounding a skill or a hobby you want to start or improve, it could be be travel plans or places you want to visit. It could be some other kind of life goal you have like getting a pet or completing one intentional act of kindness every day.
When I was first starting out MelDidItHerself, I had goals that I had set around the business, like my 6 month goal in 2021 was to get to 2,000 Instagram followers and 500 YouTube subscribers. I also usually put something about travelling, so for 2022 I had go on 4 trips this year– and I went to Cuba, Maine, Vancouver and Alaska, and then we also did a couple more local trips like an extended visit to Muskoka where I grew up and acting like a tourist there, and then a Toronto trip where we did some of the touristy things that I never really did when going when I was younger. I also like to put those reminder types of things in this category too, like one thing I usually have in there is to donate blood X times per year. Even though they send me the emails and reminders to book, I just inevitably forget to book in when I’m eligible (AKA after it’s been 3 months since I last got my eyebrows microbladed) BUT when I look at my goals sheet I’m like “oh ya shit, I need to set an appointment for that”.
And hey… sometimes we don’t meet our goals for one reason or another, and that’s totally okay too. What we want is to be doing our personal best to work towards them and make progress forward, within the limitations of what we personally are responsible for or capable of controlling. My personal 12 month goal in 2020 was to be married but hey… COVID had other plans. So the Personal category can really be so many different things, but just think about your life holistically and if you were more well-rounded and feeling amazing and in a better place at the end of 2023 compared to what you are and where you are now, what would be different and how can you work towards that?
I knew this entry was going to be a longer one but it’s because I really do love this shit. For myself and for others. In my previous life before MelDidItHerself, I worked in social services in a case manager capacity for many years in different contexts so helping people to set, work towards and reach their goals is something I absolutely love. It’s SO rewarding when you’re helping someone along and then you see them find their footing, get past barriers they truly thought were insurmountable, and then achieve their goals and see them shine and get that confidence to know they can do it themselves and that they are capable and amazing. There’s truly nothing like it.
That’s why I decided to add the Consulting and Coaching component to my business for people who are looking for some extra support or accountability or someone to just help them get their heads in order and into a more succinct, organized, tangible action plan to move forward and find success. Whether it be for someone who is interested in starting their own furniture painting and refinishing business and has no idea where to start, or someone who has a business already but is feeling a bit stuck or like they are hitting a plateau and don’t know how to get to the next level of where they see themselves going. I love it, I’m here for it and for you, and if this rings true to you and you want to check it out and see if it would be right for you, you can go to MelDidItHerself.ca/services.
Now, this is just the beginning of the goal setting and planning, although I know it probably feels like a lot. And that’s why I set this time aside to do it before the new year, because wouldn’t all of this feel SO overwhelming if you needed to think it through, write it out, make a plan AND start actioning it like.. Right now, this second? That’s way too much for a brain that just overstuffed itself with turkey, baked goods, champagne and festive drinks and so, so much chocolate for a week straight.
So make sure to come back next week where I will outline the next part of this process– which is the part that will actually ensure that you reach these goals and intentions that you set out. I have a couple different methods that I have found really helpful through some folks that I follow and I can’t wait to pass those on to you.
And something you may not know about me… I love little motivational messages. They literally always get me fired up, and I keep a running list of ones that are especially catchy or speak to me in the Notes app on my phone. So I’m going to end every podcast episode with one of those that I have noted down over the years, in hopes that you leave our time here each week feeling inspired, motivated, and ready to take on whatever comes your way that week.
So this week’s Mel’s motivational message is: Every day, I’m either living exhaustion or purpose.
Alright, that’s it for now, I appreciate your time, and I’ll catch you guys next week!