Career

Birthday Goal Setting

Goal Setting

My last newsletter as a 32 year old!

Next week I will blossom into a wiser and more magical version of myself (that’s how it works, right?).

Until then, you’re stuck with me.

My birthday week always starts with a round of goal setting. Do you get this deep urge to set goals on your birthday as well? It might sound crazy to the average person, but if you’re an ambitious multi-passionate, I know you’ll agree that goal setting runs in our blood.

That being said, goal setting has been a little hard this past year. A dance of wanting to work towards something while acknowledging that the world is going to look different tomorrow and our goals might not make sense anymore.

We’ve all had to pump the breaks on our ambitions.

The daily gym routines that got shut down overnight.

The aspirations of a promotion that turned into aspirations of I-hope-I-still-have-a-job-tomorrow.

The businesses that traded their revenue goals for basic survival hopes.

The year-long wedding planning that got cancelled overnight. The dating momentum that had to be halted. The friendships that withered away.

It wasn’t just the outside world that wasn’t cooperating with our perfect plans anymore, it was also our brains that couldn’t rely on autopilot for the most basic tasks anymore. We were relearning how to get ready for work in the morning without a commute, how to run meetings without in-person energy, and how to plan date nights within the confines of our living rooms.

It’s tempting to think that goal setting has become pointless in our new world. Easy to throw our hands in the air in defeat.

But what if 2020 improved goal setting?

One of the biggest lessons I’m walking away with from the pandemic is how much of a perfectionist brain I have. That my goals have often been perfectionist fantasies that required a perfect version of me to live a perfect life and then I could perfectly accomplish my perfect goals.

What if 2020 was the reminder we needed to start approaching goal setting from a compassionate place? A place where our goals are a celebration of the magic that’s already within us.

In my first newsletter of 2021, I shared how this year I intend to focus less on achievements and more on happiness. Prioritizing what makes me come alive, even if it’s at the expense of what looks good “on paper”.

We all have a little voice in our heads that desires a bigger life. It questions if waking up and going to work is all that life is cracked up to be. Well, that voice never goes away. It’s like a small constant drip from the ceiling. Light enough that it doesn’t require immediate attention, but frequent enough that overtime it becomes a real nuisance. So we put a bucket under the dripping to catch the water… emptying the bucket every so often. A bandaid solution that lets us forget about the drip for a short while, just like the bigger house that gives us reprieve from the small constant thoughts of a more meaningful life.

Goal setting is getting curious with that drip. It’s getting curious with what a “bigger life” really means for you. There’s no right or wrong way to approach it and, in fact, every time we sit down to write goals the process might look different from the last.

My approach this time was pulling out a fancy journal and listing 15 goals that I deeply wanted. The caveat? Every alternating goal had to be something I’ve always desired and already have. A beautifully decorated home office. A dream relationship. A location-free career. A weekly bouquet of fresh flowers in the house.

Starting this way reminded me that even if I don’t achieve a single new goal on my list, I will still be eternally happy with what I already have.

And when I look at the not-yet-achieved goals listed between those? I see them not as things that will make me more happy, but as fun experiments that will blow my mind if I’m able to pull them off.

I chose an audacious three year goal to commit to and spent the day curiously thinking about it and running it through my perfectionist filter, making sure I actually believed I could accomplish it instead of it being a fantasy. I then chiseled it down to a smaller goal, a tangible goal I would focus on exclusively until my next birthday: to make $50k from personal brand coaching. An offer that was nothing but an idea in my head two months ago.

And the intangible goal? The real goal I hope to achieve?

It’s to build the muscle for creating money out of thin air.

As I’ve worked to separate my self-worth from my goals, I’ve discovered that without the desire to “look good on paper” I’m actually quite bored of being a successful employee. I’ve already mastered that phase of my career. I’ve spent almost a decade at two of the best companies in the world.

My next level of growth requires a net new playing field, like taking those skills and building a new business. Not because “I’ll be happy then”, but because I want to blow my own mind for what I can accomplish. To see how much magic this secretly ambitious girl born into a communist-occupied country can create in her lifetime. A goal that definitely deserves a fist pump and at the very least a capitalized YES and a few exclamation points!!!!

Buzzing with the excitement of a new goal, there’s one final thing to remember:

Once you decide what you want, you have to then commit to wanting that goal even when your brain tells you it changed its mind and you don’t want that goal anymore.

Isn’t it WILD that our brain nags us for a bigger life and then when we DO WHAT IT ASKED it has the audacity to run away giggling saying it changed its mind?! Na-na-na-na-na you can’t catch me! I just caused an existential crisis for you! Enjoy your ruined Tuesday afternoon, sucker!

We need a way to cement that fiery badass energy into something tangible that we can’t ignore. Like plastering it all over our vision board.

And when it’s a super-scary-super-awesome goal?

One that requires you to pull out the big guns?

If you’re a lover of boujee things then this should speak to you: I like to buy myself jewellery to represent the big scary goal.

The gold pendant I wear every day was ordered the day I decided, with full fiery emotion, that I would quit Shopify in 2021. I tried to go back on that goal many times, convincing myself that I was being irrational. But every time my brain tried to backtrack on that goal, I saw my necklace and borrowed some of that confidence.

This week I ordered a delicate bracelet as a birthday gift for myself. With three sapphires to represent my 33rd birthday and the audacious three year goal I set for myself.

I’m armed and ready for the impending tirade from my brain. It can giggle and run away all it wants, but I know where I stand and I know where I will be standing three years from now.

Let the games begin!

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