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

20200402_130849
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