It's hard to stay focused on your goals when as a mom you're...a doer, nurturer, doctor, fix it all, chef, boss lady, laundry consultant, student, wife, partner, daughter, shoulder to cry on, psychologist, psychiatrist, police officer, debater, artist, and you can put out fires, too. For the record, I am not a real firefighter.
According to a study done by the University of Scranton of 200 "resolvers" over 2 years, they found that 77% of people studied with resolutions kept their resolutions for 1 week, but only 19% stuck to them after 2 years. Now, they didn't specifically poll moms, but I have a feeling that moms probably fared lower, simply because there is just too much on our everyday plates.
So how can you stay focused on your personal goals, when you have two loads of laundry waiting for you? Well, to be honest, everyone is different and what works for this mama may not work for you. However, you won't know if it works for you unless you give it a try. I spent tons of money on calendars, journals, and hours listening to podcasts on achieving goals.
I took what worked for my busy mama lifestyle and designed these Free MiLegasi Goals to Success Printable Worksheets to help me stay focused. Now before you go straight to the download, read the process and tips. This blog is meant as a step by step guide to the worksheets. It’s a long one, but if it’ll help you on your success journey, it’ll be worth the read. See what works for me and maybe it'll work for you too.
How to Stay Focused on Priorities and Goals - A Latina Mom's Approach
1. Put Your Goals to Paper and Write Them Down...the Old Fashioned Way
Yes, grab a pen, paper, and do a goals dump. Magic happens when your brain makes that pen and paper connection. As a product designer for almost 20 years, I can tell you that in the creative world we get our creative juices by doing brainstorming sessions or brain dumps. Have a goals brainstorming session. Write everything down that you'd like to accomplish but keep it loose and free-flowing. For example: Focus on health, Save more, Pay down debt, Go back to school, etc. You can further break it down as you continue. The idea is to simply get your ideas on paper like this:
2. Get down to the why, el porqué?
After you write your general goals, ask yourself why? Last year, on a 3-hour plane ride to Chicago, after listening about this exercise on a podcast, I did this exercise. What I found in the process was that by continuing to ask myself why got me to the essence of the goal. It may look something like this...
Goal: Focus on health.
Why? Because I want to feel better.
Why do you want to feel better? So I can have more energy to do the things that make me happy.
Why do you want to do the things that make you happy? So I can feel fulfillment and live a long life.
Why do you want to live a long life? So that I can live to see my daughter blossom in life, career, get married, have babies, everything. I don't want to miss anything.
When you ask yourself why, it forces you to look within yourself and get to the core. When you understand that your goal to focus on health doesn't really mean that you want to feel better, but that you are doing it so that you can feel fulfilled and live a long life and see your grandbabies it changes your perspective. When you have this inner conversation you will see that a lot of feelings will come up that you never expected. Set aside a couple of hours, preferably away from the family, so that you can focus and get to your core. Photo by Ken Treloar on Unsplash
3. Know what goals to focus on.
Words are only dreams if action is never taken. However, too many times we create unreasonable lists, goals, or resolutions. You will feel overwhelmed with your goals especially when you have a crying hungry baby, a tantrum obsessed toddler, or a nagging school girl telling you she has nothing to wear.
Pick 3 Goals in 3 different areas of your life that you want to focus on for the next 30 days. For example, "Focus on better health" may fall under the physical area, "Taking a career course" may be a personal area, while "Finding a Spanish Immersion School" may fall under the Kids area. Of course, you can also have more goals but prioritize the top 3 that are most important and focus on these for the next 30 days.
4. Plan of Action - Understanding what it takes to stay on track.
Many times we don't stick to goals because we don't fully understand what it takes to achieve them. Understanding that it may require Time, Money, Further Education, Discipline, and/or Planning and Scheduling helps you truly understand the scope of what you are trying to achieve.
Say your goal is to improve your health. Ok. Ask yourself how much time will this require of me? Do I need money for a gym membership, for a nutritionist, or workout clothes?
Understanding how much time and money are needed to even start a goal is helpful, especially if you are strapped for cash or time. You may even have to re-evaluate if this is a priority at this point in time after you realize that you simply don't have the amount of time or money required to even start.
5. Schedule your priorities into your life.
Whatever 3 goals you want to focus on for the next 30 days will be your priorities. If you want to focus on health, schedule your workouts or plan your meals ahead for the week. If marriage is your focus, schedule date nights or romantic evenings. If saving money is your goal, schedule time to do a weekly budget or put items for sale.
Whatever your priorities are, write them out for the week and if possible with specific times. I print 7 motivational daily track sheets for the week. For daily tasks I put them under your "I am doing these things today." I don't know about you, but I love the feeling of putting a line or big check mark after I accomplish something.
I don’t plan out my day hour by hour because that’s just doesn’t work for me, but I do schedule priorities. Whatever I don't get done I roll over to tomorrow's track sheet. I also like my track sheet to have a space for gratitude, kindness, and shopping. When I'm on the go I take a picture of my daily track sheet so I still have it on me.
I use a combination of an online linked family calendar (above my actual January Calendar) and the daily track sheet. I schedule all workouts, meetings, and appointments on my digital calendar with specific times, addresses, and links but I also write them down in my daily track sheet, just as a second reminder.
6. Give yourself permission to fail.
If you take away just one tip today, it's this one. Give yourself permission to fail. Yup, but get back up or try something else. As women and especially as moms, we are so hard on ourselves.
We dream of picture-perfect lives, we compare our lives to so and so who has flawless Instagram posts about a picture perfect family, or that other mom who's kid is so well behaved in public you could hear a pin drop, meanwhile yours is throwing a fit, rolling on the nasty floor, and screaming like the exorcist.
Stop. No, seriously, stop. As my mom so eloquently puts it, "Todos cagamos" (We all shit). Perfection doesn't exist, it isn't real, but your life is. If you expect to be perfect you're going to be even harder on yourself when you do fall and that’s when you give up.
Don’t give up. You will fall, miss a workout, eat a pint of ice cream, fail your test, spend money when you know you shouldn't have, yell at your partner, yell at your kid, and on and on.
Give yourself permission to fail, forgive yourself, and then pick yourself back up.
Don't dwell on your failure. Ask yourself, "How do I rate today?" Then ask yourself. "What made me happy today?" Try to find little moments of happiness on those 1 and 2 rated days so you don't get caught in the gloom and doom of your missteps. Remember, no matter what, "Mañana es otro dia!" Tomorrow is a new day!
7. Be your biggest cheerleader and use words that propel you.
Some days it's hard to stay positive or on track, because the kid has the flu, you didn't get that promotion as you thought, and you seem to keep fighting with your partner. We can be our biggest cheerleaders or sabotagers. Don't let the negative noise outside and inside your head get to you. Surround yourself with empowering and inspiring words, even amidst the chaos. Read them, write them, and listen to them.
There is a great power when you say I am, I do, I focus on, even if you don't believe them or haven't done them yet. I am Bella. I am Strong. I am Worthy. I am Confident. "I am doing these things today" is more powerful than simply having a "To Do" list. When you say "I focus on these priorities" instead of "Priorities" you're giving your brain action words. My best hack for those days when I'm feeling down? Listen to The Affirmations Podcast.
8. Evaluate your goals every 2-4 weeks and shift as needed.
Life happens. You get sick, your kids get sick, you get swamped at work, you lose work, maybe you get pregnant, or you lose someone, yes you will have ups and downs, your path changes, or you are faced with a fork in the road. That's life. Your priorities will shift as life happens. Maybe you find that after losing a loved one you need to focus on mental health more so than physical health. Maybe you got laid off and now need to focus on surviving versus saving.
Evaluate your goals every 2-4 weeks and see if they align. Shift your priorities as your life evolves, keeping in mind the big picture. Nobody knows what tomorrow has in store, hey, I got married in a matter of unplanned hours, because of Hurricane Thomas in 2010, just 3 months after my mom suffered a stroke (yet she recovered quite well, pictured in the peach dress). No matter how much you plan for that picture perfect day, week, year, or life, remember, sometimes the universe has a different plan. Know how to shift.
9. Set Yourself up to Win
Small changes in your daily life create habits. Habits help long term goals. For example, if your goal is to get your kids to school on time, create small changes that you can benefit from like setting their clothes the night before, packing their lunches the night before, and waking up 15 minutes earlier. If your goal is to workout first thing in the morning, set your workout clothes by your bed with a bottle of water. If your goal is to save more money, see if you can set up an automatic investment transaction on the 1st and 15th. Even if it's just $25, it's $25 that you just paid yourself without even thinking about it. Set yourself up to Win!
10. Celebrate your achievements.
Working on goals and achieving them is a big deal. Don't let anyone make you feel like your accomplishment, no matter how big or small is not an occasion to celebrate. As moms, we tend to make a big deal about everyone else and when it comes to us, we go, meh. Did you finish that course you signed up for? Treat yourself to an exclusive business event where you can put your newly acquired skills to practice. Reached your goal weight of losing 5 pounds this month? Treat yourself to a full body massage. Celebrate your achievements and put yourself first for a change.
FINAL Thoughts for Staying Focused and Achieving your New Year's Goals
Take what you want from these tips and put what works for you into action. But that's just it. Do something. Take it step by step, or as I like to say, “one cafecito at a time!” Have an idea of where you want to go but don’t overlook your daily accomplishments. Little by little you will get there. Focus on today and it will get you closer to the bigger picture. You can do this. You have it in you. Start to believe that you can!