I've been putting off posting this post for a long time. It's been written and ready to go for about a month, but I just hadn't gotten it out there. So in the spirit of not beating myself up, here is a post about how I set my goals this year.

Last year's blog post about goal setting really seemed to intrigue many of you. I've had a few suggestions to update you on my thoughts on last year & this year's goal setting process.

Last year was a great step forward. I felt more engaged in working towards my goals. I even hit a goal, that I didn't expect to hit that year. If you'd like a refresher on that post, you can find it here.

One way to improve the process though, was to set up a process that encouraged me to check in more often. I was only checking in to my 3 OKRs twice a quarter (mid quarter & end of quarter). They only helped me towards measurable goals, but not all goals are measurable.

the Cultivate Planner cover

The Cultivate System

So this year, I decided to work through the Cultivate What Matters workbook by Lara Casey. Not only does it help you delve into your goals, but has a built in way to keep tack of them throughout the year.

I started the workbook in December, and did all the prep work and goal setting before Christmas. To help you find your big picture goals, Lara asks you questions like “where do you see your self when you are 80,” and “what worked and didn't work last year?” They were similar questions I had come up with last year (with a lot more work to find them), but it was nice to have them all in one place.

The process was great, but I did feel I was missing the post-its from last year. They were ultimately my favorite part of last year's process. So I decided to incorporate them this year, but over the course of filling out the workbook, not just for one day "brain-dump". I began by keeping them in the book (on the reinforcement boards it shipped with). Then, before I had to narrow down what my goals would be, I placed them on an art board where I could organize and brain-map them. I was able to see them in a whole picture, to see where they connected to everything else. They weren't separate goals/decisions, but a connected network that pointed to one major theme:
REACH. <my word of the year

Using stickies to create a mind map
Filling in the Cultivate Planner
Starting the month fresh in the Cultivate Planner

Before Christmas, I finished setting my goals and setting up my plan for January. I felt so accomplished, so excited, so ready to start! But then I took 2 weeks off for Christmas. It was a much needed vacation. I had been working 10 hour days and needed time to reset, spend time in nature, and make space for new ideas.

But I think it was just a few days too long. I was ready to get back to work in about a week-and-a-half, but forced my self to continue to "relax". Then by the time, I actually got back, to work I had lost motivation, direction, and momentum. Even though, I got things done, and even made a few big wins, they weren't things that got me closer to my big picture goals.

Luckily, the workbook has a process for when this happens. You check in every month. You write about your wins and disappointments in the last month. You reset your goals. Either continuing them, reworking them, or deleting them all together. You don't beat yourself up. You rejoice the wins, learn from & let go of the disappointments, and continue moving forward.

My favorite part of the workbook is the monthly tending list. I've torn mine out and taped it to the middle of my desk. It's often covered by my work (my desk is in our living room, and I'm not comfortable hanging it where any guest could just see it. I'm private, and it's personal.) So it's usually covered. But in a location that it's easy to get to when I want to check in (usually every day or two.)

"What you track gets improved." Quote by Laura C George, Calligraphy by Katie Leavens

Other things I've added to the Cultivate system:

Going from yearly goals to monthly, was just a little over-whelming to me. So I incorporated the quarterly planning sheet from Productive Flourishing's Momentum Planner. It's a similar process to the OKRs from last year (in fact I've turned the measurable goals from this sheet into OKRs).

I've always incorporated an idea from Laura C George, where you check-in every week. You record that weeks high, low, biggest accomplishment, and how much money you made. Because, in her words, “what you track gets improved.”

This is all still a work in progress. A lot has improved from last year, but I'm open to continue shifting things. I don't know if I'll continue the Cultivate system next year (it's a bit pricey). But I will definitely be incorporating a lot of Cultivate's ideas moving forward.

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