Goal Setting Series-Part 2- Dream about the future.

After reflecting on the past we need to look forward. But wait. Hold off your goal setting eager soul for just a bit. We are going to write our goals next time. Today, we are looking forward, way forward. We are dreaming about our future. We are doing that because we need more clues to know what really matters to us. Matters enough to transform into goals that we can write in detail next time.

In her PowerSheets, Lara Casey encourages us to think about our future in the big picture. If we determine what matters most to us in the big picture we will work harder to achieve it, we will get back up from setbacks faster and keep going.

Step 1:

You can uncover your most important life mission by asking:

Where do you want to be at the age of 80?

Make 2 lists.

What will matter to you most at the age of 80?

What will not matter to you at the age of 80?

Some of my personal answers when I did this exercise were:

What will matter most to me: strong loving relationships, good health, work legacy, exploring the beauty of the world, abundance, wisdom.

What will not matter: complaining, FOMO (fear of missing out on online lives of other), owning the latest gadgets, kids’ tantrums, how I look in photos, comments and likes received on my posts, number of followers.

This question adds a sense of purpose to your goals and what you do every day. Does your to-do list today or this week serve your big picture vision of yourself? Do they match at all?

We need to be also be super clear on why we want to make this big picture happen. If our how does not work our why will help us find another how.  

Add a few points stating why it is important for your big picture to become a reality for you. This would be aligned with your values and creating feelings of joy and satisfaction that you lived the life you wanted.

For example: my why for strong relationships is that powerful connections make feel alive and my heart full.

Have you noticed how your goals are getting clearer now? Your evaluation of the past and your big picture dreams are helping your heart know what it is your need to get started on.

Now for a very inspiring part.

Step 2:

What themes did you discover?

Spend some time reviewing all your answers from part 1 and the big picture answers.  You will notice recurring themes of areas that make you your heart sing and areas that need serious work to be back on track. Use a marker or a highlighter to circle or star those areas and then summarize them in few sentences.

This step took me around 30 minutes to do when I first did it. Some themes that popped up were:

Meaningful connections with family and friends. Slowing down. Self-Care. Spiritual practice commitment. Moving my body. Seeking new experiences. More fun. Go back to writing. Keep teaching.

Step 3:

Transform themes into goal ideas.

It’s time to transform those themes into goal ideas that you can start working on now. They emerged as themes for a reason. They are probably those dreams that felt most important to you in the big picture and maybe those that had the lowest ratings in your life audit.  Notice that maybe there is a lot to work on and that might feel a little overwhelming. This is why we worked on selecting what matters most to you. Goal ideas are easier to define after going all through the previous exercises. We’re only writing ideas and we will get into structured goal setting next post.

Some of my goal ideas:

Theme: teach moreà Goal idea: launch a podcast, revive my blog.

Theme: Spiritual practice commitmentà Goal idea: commit to the habit of meditation.

Step 4:

What are you saying No to?

What are you saying Yes to?

Lists are fun to do so now we are going to make 2 new lists of things we will say no to that hold us  back from being our best selves and say yes to things that expand our happiness and joy. These things could be inner thoughts/beliefs, habits/behaviors, things/possessions and type of people/relationships that we need to release and say no to in the next year/season or keep and embrace and say yes to more often. 

Personal examples:

No to: eating after 7pm, buying without replacing, sleeping less than 6 hours, meaningless outings

Yes to: planning family meals, finishing what I start, power naps.

Step 5:

Choose your word of the year

This word will inspire you when you are down, sharpen your focus, and will remind you of what is important.

How to come up with your word of the year?

Your answers to all the previous exercises will guide you, it could be a verb, an adjective or even a small phrase. What do you want to do/be/have MORE of this year?

You can google “word of the year ideas” and see what comes up and other people’s choices, it is so much fun.

Reminder: You can change your word of the year whenever you want, it does not have to be perfect and it is not final!

Write your word of the year on card and place it somewhere prominent that you will see every day.

My word of the year 2019 was Teach

My word of the year 2020 is Clarity.

Ready to learn how to set your goals in detail?  

Share photos of your goal setting notebooks with me in the comments or on my social media accounts. It is especially important to write down your goals in pen and paper, and I will tell you why in the next post.

You can listen to this blog post in Arabic through episode 8 of my podcast: 

Goal Setting Series-Part 2- Dream about the future.

Goal Setting Series: Part 1 Reflect on the Past

We practice goal setting all the time in business settings. If you’re an employee you usually receive your goals every year or every six months, which would align with the strategic goals of the company.  At the end of the semester you review your achievements with your boss against the defined goals, you discuss what worked, what didn’t, and why.  

However, we usually coast through our personal lives, letting things happen to us and reacting as necessary. We are not charting our own paths to where we want to go. We are walking pre-defined paths for us. That’s why our days and years look a lot like each other. We are not living goal-oriented lives, we are not living on purpose.  This gap in goal setting between our work life and personal life was an insight that clicked for me in a conversation with a business leader and a mentor I’m lucky to have met called Iman Mutlaq. I’ll be always grateful for helping me notice this.  

It’s true, many of us set new year’s resolutions, but resolutions without a plan are not goals, they are only hopes and aspirations, that’s why they fail by mid-February.  

Lucky for you, I have good news. Goal setting can be done anytime. You can do it at the beginning of each year, on your birthday, every month,  every quarter or whenever you decide to pursue something new. As Lara Casey always says: “There is nothing magical about  January 1st“.  

In this series I will share with you what I have learned about goal setting from my favorite authors on the subject Michael Hyatt and Lara Casey. 

This Post is part 1 of 4.  

Goal Setting Starts in the Past.  

Your past has only one value, learning from it. Reviewing your past will help you design the right goals for you. If you start goal setting with reviewing the past you’re more likely to set meaningful goals that you will invest time and effort to achieve. 

First: Do a Life Audit 

Our lives are multi-faceted as Michael Hyatt asserts. Our lives are not just our careers or health or families. These life domains are all connected. When we’re not doing well in one domain of our life we can feel it impacting the satisfaction we have in other areas. 

We start the life audit by rating the key life areas on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means you are not satisfied and want to see a big change there, and 10 means you’re happy with how you’re showing up in this domain. While at it, write a few words about the reason you selected the score for each domain. State facts and how you feel, honesty is key here because opportunity for improvement starts taking shape now, the lowest scores indicate the bigger opportunity to make a change.  

Life domains are differently grouped depending on the writer, you can add categories or remove those that don’t apply to you. Feel free to make your own life categories that work for your unique life. 

The categories I recommend are: 

  • Health: How you feel about your body. 
  • Mental/Emotional: How you feel about your psychological well-being. 
  • Relationships: How you feel about your relationship to: 
    • Spouse/Significant other 
    • Friends
    • Family
  • Finances: Your personal or family’s financial situation 
  • Work: Your job, your 9-5, and side projects.  
  • Spiritual Growth: You connection to God. 
  • Learning: Your educational development. 
  • Personal Environment: Your home and work environment.  
  • Fun & Recreation: Your hobbies, playtime, relaxation, and adventure experiences.  
  • Service & Contribution: how you serve the world/ volunteer work. 

You can also take an assessment I really like by Michael Hyatt to assess how you are generally doing in life’s different domains by answering a series of helpful questions. Make sure to save your answers so you can go back to them after a while. I guarantee you will see improvements after you commit to setting goals in areas where your satisfaction was the lowest.  

SecondEvaluate your past. 

Select how far you’d like to go in your past, 6 months, one year, 3 years? Answer accordingly.  

I assumed you want to go back one year and wrote the tips accordingly: 

  • Start with the positive: While our human tendency is to remember the negative first, it is recommended to start with the good. This will help us have energy to complete the past exercise. Write a list of the wonderful things that happened to you. What are you most proud of? What worked well last year? A few ways to remember:
    •  You can consult your family and friends to remind you of your highlights 
    • You can check your social media posts to remember  
    • You can go through your camera roll. 
    • You can check your calendar or planner. 
    • You can check your goals from last time, celebrate what’s done. 
    • You can check your past financial statements, this will remind you of you priorities and events. 
  • Name the challenges: Write a list answering questions like what did not work this past year? What disappointments or regrets did you experience? What goals you wanted to achieve but did not? What were some blocks you faced? What achievements you wanted to be acknowledged for but were not? It is hard to write our answers here. But power through it. This list will guide your focus when you set your goals, your challenges are your biggest opportunities for improvements.  
  • Distill the lessons: What did the positive and the negative from the past year teach you? Make them into short sentences of wisdom that you can repeat over and over to yourself.  

Third:  State what you are grateful for. 

  • Gratitude time: Write the names of people who helped you during this past year. Find a way to thank them for specific things they did for you or ways they stood by you. Feeling gratitude is one thing, expressing it to those who caused it is such an another level. They will be so surprised, and you are going to make someone’s day.  

Bonus Step 

  • Identify your hidden opportunity. the opportunity principle, which states feelings of dissatisfaction and disappointments are strongest where the chances for corrective action are clearest. Consider your setbacks this past year, brainstorm how they might point you toward your next opportunity.  

Now you are ready to move on to the next step of goal setting which is: dreaming about the future. 

New post coming up soon. 

I’m deeply grateful for Michael Hyatt and Lara Casey for all what they taught me about Goal Setting that I have shared in this blog post.  

You can listen to this blog post in Arabic through episode 7 of my podcast: 

Goal Setting Series: Part 1 Reflect on the Past

10 Monthly Review Questions and my Quarantine Edition Answers

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My 2020 Passion Planner

I will be sharing my answers to the monthly reflection questions in my passion planner, highlighting all my achievements and observations about April 2020. I usually begin to answer these questions after reviewing all my journals in order to remember details and also to be inspired.

Question 1: What was the most memorable part of this month? Describe it.

When outside life slowed down due quarantine I got the chance to achieve two important personal goals that were already on my 2020 goals list, which are:

 1. My Podcast

After launching my quarantine baby podcast in March 29th I managed to launch 4 episodes during April 2020.  This boosted my self-confidence as I learned so much about the podcasting process by putting in hard work and learning from my own mistakes each time.  The month felt like a crash course that will save me so much time in the future. I especially enjoyed researching the journaling topic using my old journals and reading about the habits of authors I admire.
 
2. Decluttering my home.
 

Decluttering was actually a big goal for me, however, I did not expect to make this much progress on it so early in the year, it needed time and I finally had the time. I covered the pain areas including my bedroom, my kids’ rooms, my multi-purpose office area. I discovered a lot about myself and my relationship to stuff has been definitely complicated. I’m improving and finding it easier to get rid of stuff that don’t add value or beauty to my life or simple taking space I’d better save for more meaningful items and activities.

Question 2: What were the three biggest lessons you’ve learned in the past month?

  1.  I love my home. I just did not have the time to appreciate it before. I finally cleared out stuff that blocked air and light and even my kids from moving freely in it and enjoying it.
  2. I am at my best when I create. When I ship my work like this blog or a new podcast episode, I feel the best rush of energy.
  3.  When I feel uninspired and stuck at a task- which I can tell if it’s taking too long, I’m making many mistakes, or I’m restarting over and over- just PAUSE. I should leave the task for a while until recharge. This way I‘d be able to finish it faster.

Question 3: Review your planner for the past month and assess your priorities. Are you happy with how you spend your time? If not, what steps can you take next to adjust them.

Yes, I am very happy of how I spent my time creating work I’m proud of and more space at home. I also noticed that compared to the first 2 weeks of quarantine back in March, I didn’t play much with the kids in April but I’m proud that I committed to daily bedtime stories, reading 4 stories sometimes.

There is always, however, room for improvement.

In May, I want less time on my phone and to make time on phone intentional for creating, engaging with others,  initiating or responding to contact. Not for mindless scrolling.

Question 4: What did you accomplish this past month? What are you most proud of?

  1.  4 Podcast episodes.
  2. 3 Blog posts
  3. 4 Instagram videos
  4. Finished 4 books (decluttering at the speed of life, how to manage your home without losing your mind,  money tree, life’s greatest question) the first 2 books helped me achieve the below tasks.
  5. Decluttering my bedroom 100% , kids’ rooms 80%, office room 100%. I would like to change its name to learning/arts room, since kids are spending most of their time with me there during the day when I work or home school, still thinking about it.
  6. Developing home management routines that helped make my home feel more comfortable (example: laundry day routine)
  7. Recording a Zoom call with my friend on how we are spending our time home positively as mothers.
  8. Starting a book discussion series about the (Power of Now) with my friend by video-recording the first episode.
  9. Developing a new habit of walking daily for 20 to 45 minutes.
  10. Commiting to my 5am habits and especially to meditation.
  11. Spending 2 social-media free weekends

Question 5: How are you different between this past month and the month before it?

I am closer to my kids and know them better and proud of their relationship’s progress and how they learned to get along better than before.

I am better aware of my triggers around my kids and working on enhancing my reactions especially during home schooling.

I feel more self-confident of my creative energy to ship my work to the world.

I now really know that what it takes to produce a podcast.

I feel lighter with less stuff at home and proud that my relationship to possessions is changing.

I’ve never loved my home as much as I loved it this month.

Question 6: What or who are you especially grateful for this past month?

My home. The breathtaking sunset view. Spring beauty wherever I look outside and having lovely outdoors area for kids to run.

My husband’s energy who got so much done around the house and washed the cars many times followed by rain.

My father and mother in law who live downstairs and their love and attention for the kids and their great food.

After 40 days I got to spend few nights at my parents’, enjoyed being spoiled with food and staying up late with them.

My accountability partner Rania and our special talks.

My best friend’s patience listening to my long voice messages of frustration.

Ladies in my 5am group, their wonderful wisdom, energy, honesty and the momentum we enjoyed.

The amazing support and helpful feedback I received about my new podcast and all the amazing testimonials about it.

Dana K. white’s books about home management.

Question 7: Name three things you can improve on this upcoming month. What concrete actions can you take to work towards these improvement?

  1. Patience during home schooling by being more mentally prepared for class, adding more silence for my child to think, expecting different (I don’t know) scenarios and practicing my response to them because I get frustrated if we already covered the material. Also to keep consistent math and reading aloud practice.
  2.  More respect for my body by going back to intermittent fasting, less chips, replace it with yogurt and cucumbers and seeds. Also observe my coffee intake.
  3. Get in touch with parenting books to remember parenting strategies and leave the room when feeling frustrated to be able to respond wisely to kids.

Question 8: From one to 10, how do you feel overall about this past month?

7 out of 10

Other questions I like from PowerSheets Goal Planner

Question 9: In the new month I am saying no to:

Anger. Anger begets anger, just like any habit. I can break this habit by pausing and choosing a different response. Also by starting my day imagining things going wrong in advance with kids’ moods and behavior and practicing a different response (when they…. I will… ) example: when they start bickering /I will separate them kindly but firmly in their rooms until a timer goes off).

Social media in weekends and mornings. Mornings are way fruitful and weekends are more peaceful when I am off social media. I can check it after I create my own content. As Chase Jarvis always says: Create before you consume.

Question:10 In the new month I am saying yes to:

Flexibility, patience, adding 10-min strength training every other day, power naps, starting the day setting schedules with kids.

What’s Next?

After answering the 10 questions I fill the Tending List in Powersheets where I write the Monthly action items, the weekly action items and the daily action items/habits.

Example of monthly action items is launching 2-3 podcast episodes, organize summer clothes, finish chapter 3 of a course in miracles, finish contagious you book and deliver a project at work.

Example of weekly action items may be one podcast episode and one Instagram video per week.

In May my daily habits would include walking 30 minutes, writing in evening journals, having fruits and seeds.

Other funny things worth mentioning about this past month is that I finally had the time to read the dishwasher and the washing machine manuals. I found out what those little codes meant. I chose the best program for my dishwasher and I even adjusted the height of the racks, who knew this was even possible?  I am a bit embarrassed to admit that I learned the correct way to set up the cutlery  in the top rack.  For 2 years I did it as the handyman who installed it instructed me to, without ever verifying his advice. Perhaps I’ll share a picture later. It was so funny.

I hope this review encouraged you to start this practice and make it your own. This will help you track your successes and learn from your mistakes.

Let me know if you do a monthly review in the comments, and what other helpful questions we can think about every month.

You can listen to this epsiode in Arabic through my podcast:

 

 

10 Monthly Review Questions and my Quarantine Edition Answers

The Journaling Habit (Part 1)

I prepared for this post, and the next one, researching my own personal journals, in addition to what my favorite writers said about it, to understand why I committed to journaling all this time and distill for you my personal process as an answer to a question I received many times but couldn’t seem to prove a satisfying answer before: What’s the point of journaling and how do you journal?  

My goal here is to share with you what I’ve learnt and encourage you to consider this habit as part of your daily routine, maybe when you are up at 5am too.

This outcome of my findings is divided into 2 parts. This post is part 1. where I will share my personal journaling journey, while the next post is a detailed journaling guide for you to kick it off.

Continue reading “The Journaling Habit (Part 1)”
The Journaling Habit (Part 1)

Tips for 5 AM Club beginners

  1. Define your why. The first thing I ask people who want to start waking up at 5AM is why do they want to do that? what’s missing that waking up would help them accomplish? Waking up at 5AM is not for everybody, especially not for those who already have the time to work on their self -improvement activities like journaling, reading, planning and so on during the rest of the day. Or those who appreciate their nighttime outings and want the freedom of going out any night of the week without thinking they will wake up at 5AM next day. Write your why. So when you lose your initial enthusiasm your why would remind you. Maybe it would be something like: I don’t want to feel the morning rush ever again. I want to feel I can start my day slowly and with intention. I want to go to work with my to-do list ready. I want to increase my knowledge/self-awareness/muscles.
  2. Work on your evening routine first. Observe your current bedtime and what gets in the way of sleeping on time. How does going out affect your bedtime? Notice your habits of consumption at night, whether content on TV or social media or food or caffeine. It is recommended to cut off coffee 6 hours at least before bedtime in many studies.
  3. Create something to look forward to in the morning. Examples could include fancy coffee or hot beverage or a mug you get especially for this habit. A new shiny notebook and set of pens. An exciting book you want to read. An online course you subscribe to.
  4. Dedicate a corner in your house for your morning time. It could be chair facing a window, it could be your kitchen table or a small desk you get especially to place your morning tools on it. I used an old outdoor table as a makeshift office for years before replacing it with my shiny new office from IKEA few months ago.
  5. Look for or ask some friends to join you in this new habit for accountability and to create momentum. It’s much more exciting when you wake up knowing others are sleepy but awake like you. You can create a whatsapp group and send good morning to each other like I do with my small group. You can also ask to call and wake up each other if you don’t show up on time.
  6. If no one is interested to join your challenge in creating this habit, start a public challenge on your social media announcing your implementation intentions (this early, this many days) and report on your story daily indicating how super early you are and how far you are in the habit. This is how I started and how I recommitted to it.
  7. Speaking of social media, post that update or send good morning your 5am group then put your phone far away for an hour at least to do the things you wake up for. You can’t underestimate the allure of your phone screen and how it will steal precious minutes and attention from you if given the chance. I set appblock on strict mode the night before to guard my morning routine.
  8. Change your alarm ringtone, you got so used to your current one and your body is learning a new habit so it needs a new trigger, Also put your alarm (I’m assuming phone) far from your hand’s reach so you have to stand up and walk to turn if off and you might as well leave the bedroom as planned.
  9. Remember the 5-second rule. When you hear the alarm, count down from 5, 5-4-3-2-1, and launch out of bed like rockets launch into the sky. This would not give enough time for your foggy self-talk to start, which wants you warm and cozy in bed, forgetting and abandoning your budding habit.
  10. If your feel too sleepy after you wake up and want to go back to bed, remind yourself how you would feel in 2 hours if you stay awake and true to your new habit. Like I did once, blast some music in your earphones and do some jumping jacks to wake up that body.
  11. Make your habit rewarding. Use a monthly calendar to cross off each day you wake up with a big fat X. Don’t break the chain of X. Include the X in your social media photo.
  12. Set a reward for yourself when you complete X number of days in a row. Make it so attractive and worthy of your efforts.
  13. Remember it takes an average of 66 days to make a new routine a habit. Keep going. Don’t assume it has become a habit too soon by giving yourself days off way too early. If you quit too soon you might think you are fine and you don’t need it but before you know it the old symptoms that propelled you to start will come back. They will not feel so great.
  14. Prepare for failure. Set a rule that if your break the chain you don’t break it more than 2 days. Don’t let the perfectionist in you say it’s all or nothing (I thank this book for teaching me this). Forgive yourself and jump back to it because your previous efforts are not wasted. New neural pathways are being forged in your brain as you are creating this habit and they will stay there for the days you break the chain as long as you go back.

Anything I missed? What’s your favorite tip? let me know your own secrets to waking up early.

Listen to these tips in Arabic in my podcast The Paradise Project
Tips for 5 AM Club beginners

What does Audible have to do with Traffic?

Everything.

See, I have an average of 40 minutes commute to and from work. In 2014, I started using Audible application on my mobile while driving, and it was one of the smartest things I have done. My library consists mainly of self- development, psychology and business books. My life has changed with all those books. They were my companions during travel that I barely listen to radio anymore

I tried to listen to short fictional story once,  the narration was great but I  prefer this genre on  paper and kindle. Audible is fully packed with the best seller novels nonetheless if interested.

If you haven’t heard of it before, Audible is a company owned by Amazon with the mission to “Unleash the power of the Spoken Word”  where you can find over 180K titles narrated by world-class narrators.

With my schedule, which is mostly like yours, the best way to get so much reading done is audible and I’m happy to have few friends and family members take my advice to use it.

New to audible? or thinking about joining? Here are my tips for a great and lifelong experience:

  1. The first book is free. If you like the experience you can subscribe for 14.95$ monthly which gives you one credit that allows to buy any book on audible no matter the price. If you see books much cheaper you can also buy them directly and enrich your library and save your credit for something else.
  2. Read book reviews before buying an audio book. Not just on audible, but also on goodreads to see if the content is worth your time not just the narration quality.
  3. Browse your favorite subjects and top rated books in your preferred genre and start with them first then experiment with not so famous books to get the habit going rather than getting discouraged by some titles. (I highly recommend to start with any book by Seth Godin or Brene Brown: The Power of Vulnerability)
  4. Speed up or slow the narration according to your preference and how you perceive the narrator. Many books felt much better when I sped up the narration by 1.2X
  5. Add audible shortcut to mobile home menu so you’ll start listening as soon as you get into the car
  6. If you don’t like a book you can return it. I did it only once because I thought the topic of the book would be different when I bought it.
  7. When you finish a book (self-development or  business type books), don’t start a new one immediately.  I recommend to do a quick re-listen. It has to be a fast one (1.1 or more) to review the key concepts and get them to stick, especially that you sometimes get distracted and paragraphs get read that you don’t even remember going through the first time. I didn’t do this until a couple of months ago and it made all the difference. Usually, I can’t wait to start another book after listening to one book for couple of weeks but trust me, this would do wonders to help you learn new ideas.
  8. Subscribe to audible’ s daily deal to get notified about discounted books for the day. So you can get books without waiting for your monthly credit.
  9. Add books to your wish list and audible will notify you if it’s on sale by email.
  10. Their customer care chat is very helpful, use it if needed.
  11. Ask for titles on audible that you can’t find and maybe they will consider your request. For example , I had all Zig Ziglar series and one was missing  ( I think it was the goals program) so  I asked about it. Few weeks later I found they added it. I’d like to believe i had something to do with it.
  12. Try the great courses series, lectures by great professors on various interesting topics.  my favorites topics are business and psychology.
  13. If you have  a book on kindle and you’re so into it that can’t stop reading it you have the option to buy the audible version at a reduced price if you see “whispersync for voice-ready” and the narration will start where you left off in your kindle
  14. You can also listen to podcasts, news on your audible. Choose your favorite channels and you can listen to nuggets of wisdom or humors segments everyday  like HBR ideacast and  TED talks. There are even audible original series which I still haven’t got the chance to listen to.
  15. You can bookmark audio segments you like and share them with your friends. I particularly do that for parenting books.
  16. I recommend not getting carried away by purchasing many books and take it one book at a time so you don’t get overwhelmed.
  17. I enjoy listening while doing some mundane house chores, that way I’m always learning.
  18. Getting a Bluetooth headset also really enhanced my listening experience.
What does Audible have to do with Traffic?