Ten Ways to Infuse Your Goal with New Life

Are you ready to breathe some new life into your goals? Read on for some practical tips on how to do it.

1. Remember why your goal matters

Write down a list of all the reasons you want to achieve your goal. Post it somewhere that’s highly visible to you, or save it to pull it out for unmotivated moments.

Can’t come up with reasons why it matters, or find your list of reasons unconvincing? Listen to your gut. Maybe you should let it go. Or transform it.

What’s really speaking to you beneath the surface of that goal… what matters, what inspires you, what lights you up? What can you move towards instead of away from? Is there a goal behind your goal? Something you truly wish you were doing instead of what you “should” be doing? Something bigger or smaller in scope that feels more right?

Listen for a feeling of things clicking into place as you write out the reasons behind your goal. Making progress on a goal is endlessly easier when your goal is powered by passion + connection.

2. Connect to your goal’s heart.

Considering all the reasons why your goal matters, is there one shining motivator that jumps out? An image or a phrase or a value that captures the heart of your goal?

Finding or creating a symbol that brings up all the passion you hold for your goal is a powerful act. Connecting to the heart of your goal motivates you to show up for it, and symbols can help make that goal’s heart feel real and alive. And worth working towards.

3. Tweak your goal into one you can fully control.

Not all things that we want to make happen are effective goals. I like to make a distinction between goals and desired outcomes. A goal is something that you can do. A desired outcome is something that you want to happen.

Want to lose weight? That’s not something that you can do in a direct and fully controllable way. Instead, make concrete and action-oriented goals around exercise or eating. Want to be less stressed? Again, that’s something you can impact rather than completely control. To work towards a lower-stress life, you might commit to a daily meditation practice, change your boundaries at work, start a creative hobby or commit to going out with friends every week or month. Want to change some aspect of your parenting style? Choose a super-specific idea you want to try from a book or website rather than simply willing yourself to change.

Whatever your desired outcome, decide what tangible actions might accomplish the outcome you want, and make following through on those actions the goal itself.

If you later decide that your concrete goal isn’t moving you towards the outcome you seek, you can choose new goals later. But put your energy and focus into what you can fully control… your own choices and actions… rather than on the results of those actions.

4. Break it down.

Break your goal down into 5-10 smaller sub-goals, with dates attached to them. You don’t have to keep referring to these dates if they’re not motivating. But the process of breaking down your goal is a great reality-check for whether your expectations and time/energy investment are synced up.

5. Block out work time

Put chunks of work time on your calendar weekly or daily to work on your goal. If you don’t have a lot of time available, that’s fine – start with whatever time is available to you. Even five or fifteen minutes, done consistently, can have tremendous impact over time.

Treat the appointment with yourself with as much respect as you’d treat a commitment to spend time with another person. This is your super-important goal we’re talking about here– it deserves the best of you. You deserve the best of you.

6. Set yourself up for ease.

What can you do to make it as simple + pleasant as possible to get started quickly and with ease when your work time arrives? Think: Will I need any supplies or tools? Am I missing any basic information? Is there something about my space that will massively distract me? Do I need support or childcare to make this happen? Can I set the mood for this time with music, candles or something else beautiful that will help me connect with the heart of my goal as I work? Are there distractions I can avoid, such as staying off social media or offline?

What can I do to make my work time towards my goal sacred + effective + fun?

7. Embark on a love affair with process.

Don’t focus so hard on what you haven’t done yet that you lose track of everything you have done. Give yourself a pat on the back for making a big commitment to begin with and for every bit of hard work you put in along the way. You deserve to feel proud of all your work and progress, not just at the beginning but throughout the process.

Notice your progress and efforts as you go. Celebrate baby steps and small milestones, even silly ones. It all counts.

8. Show up.

Come back, again and again. Do the work. Keep taking your steps, even on the days that it’s hard, even on the day where you’ve gotten behind, even on the days when you are struggling to connect with your motivation. Build habits and honor your worktime. Treat your goal with respect.

9. Throw out the guilt.

If you mess up, that too is part of the process. Pick yourself up, see what you can learn from your mistake and resolve to do it differently next time.

10. You are not your goal.

It’s wonderful to have goals and make progress on them, but don’t make your sense of self-worth dependent on your achievements. You remain worthwhile as a person regardless of what you do or don’t accomplish. As musician Gina Sala writes,“You are intrinsically valued, and lovable and worthy of all joy and nurturing and health and vitality just because of who you are, not because of what you do!”

Stalled on a goal?

There are so many ways to connect to your goals and move them forward. If you are ever interested in personalized help from me with your goals, check out my short + sweet Sanity Jolt coaching package. It’s specially designed to uncover what’s holding you back and how you can move forward, in just 2 phone sessions together. I’d love to hear about what you want to work towards!

Happy goal-gallivanting!

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Lighten Your List by Letting Go: Decluttering Your To-Do’s

In an ideal world, a list that tracks your active work is tightly minimal and up-to-date. In the real world, to-do lists often become a slurry of things we actually will work on soon, things we feel guilty about admitting we’re not going to do, and things we want to do– but in reality won’t make time for until months in the future.

soft white feathers

Original image by Lindsey Bieda, words by Thekla Richter.

When your to-do and project lists get unwieldy and unintentional, your mental, emotional + energetic frequencies can get jammed with static. Overly long lists can:

  • Take longer to review, prioritize and maintain
  • Take up emotional and mental bandwidth
  • Cause list avoidance and disorganization
  • Convince you that you’re lazy, procrastinating or unproductive
  • Create stress by forcing you to repeatedly question your priorities
  • Cause you to over-focus on what hasn’t been done yet, rather than what you have completed
  • Make it harder to say a smart yes or no to a new commitment
  • Sap your focus and momentum
  • Contribute to overwhelm

“Do… or do not. There is no try,” said Yoda. If you’re not going to do it anytime soon, get clear on that fact. Give yourself permission to let the task go (for now), and stop spending your precious energy on keeping it in front of yourself.

Your to-do list can radiate pure intention. What needs to move out of the way to let your true goals shine?

When You’re Ready to Purge

Bring out your reddest red pen, your fiercest honesty and your gentlest self-compassion. Get your list or gather up your far-flung multiple lists. Do a brain-dump of the unwritten to-do list in your head while you’re at it – unwritten lists often need the most decluttering of all.

When you’re ready to start taking things off your list, just start crossing things off. Unsure what to keep and what to cross off? Ask yourself these questions:

1. Is it CURRENT? Have I taken action in the last 21 days, or will I truly take action on this in the next 21 days?

2. Is it REALISTIC? In my heart of hearts, do I trust that I can and will make time for and dedicate resources to this now?

3. Is it DESIRED? Do I actually want to do it? Does it speak to my values and feel right, even if I also feel some resistance?

For projects that aren’t quite passing that three-question test, here’s a bonus question:

4. It is as EASY AS CAN BE? Would this project meet the current, realistic and desired criteria if you just tweaked it to make it easier? Maybe you could do something on a smaller scale or less perfectly, hand off some or all it to your spouse/partner, pay someone else to do it, get super concrete on the very next step or otherwise transform the project into something that’s less daunting.

Follow your sense of rightness. Trust your heart. Cross stuff off and leave stuff on. You know what needs to come off your list.

Remember that if something you cross off affects others, you might need to also add something to your list: discussing this change with someone else or notifying them. Projects that only directly affect you are easiest to reassess, but sometimes the purging process can also bring to light the need for larger or more complex changes that involve more coordination than simply crossing something off. Do what feels right.

What to Do with Purged Items

If your to-do list item is current, realistic and desired, great! Leave it on the list. Otherwise, you can either cross it off completely – a great feeling! – or move it to a separate place to track.

Options for tracking elsewhere might be:

  • A someday-maybe list, a la David Allen’s Getting Things Done
  • An idea/brainstorming document or file, digital or paper
  • An all-day entry in your calendar, to reconsider doing it actively at a future date
  • A longer-term project planning tool, like a month-by-month project list or color-coded project calendar

A Decluttering Dare

What would happen if you crossed off or moved to another list 25% of the things on your list? How about 50% or 75%? Feel any lighter yet? Cross off as much as you can bring yourself to dare letting go of. If something matters, it will come back to you like something set free that knows it’s yours. In the meantime… dare yourself to work with a smaller list.

This exercise is great to bring to your list over and over again. You might find that you get fiercer each time as you feel how rewarding and safe it is to let some things go.

What do you dare yourself to let go of?

Luxuriate in Space

If you keep your lists on paper, I highly urge you to copy them out fresh + clean after a purge. If your digital system shows you crossed-off items, I encourage you to wave whatever digital wands will make them disappear. Part of the payoff of lightening your list is a cleaner, shorter new list. Gaze upon its beauty and enjoy your new-found space.

Acknowledge and celebrate yourself for the hard work you did. I hope that you feel fresh, clean + light.

How does it feel to lighten your load by the power of your will alone?

Love this post? Please share it with the buttons below. And I invite you to stop by my Facebook page with any stories of challenges and successes in list-purging.

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11 Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Say Yes

Do you ever feel like you end up agreeing to do things by accident? Saying yes without thinking too hard is alluring. Agreeing to a request on the spot is socially sanctioned in our culture in a thousand ways.


However, as a busy parent with tons of demands on your time and energy, you can’t afford to take on obligations and commitments lightly. Even fairly minor commitments can pile up and end up subtly chipping away at your time and energy.

So next time someone asks you to do something, make your yes or no mindful by making sure you know the answers to these questions:

1. What, exactly, am I agreeing to do and by when? Get as specific and concrete as you can.

2. Who will this benefit and how will it benefit them? Does that line up with my values?

3. How long will it take me to do it, if all goes well? If all does not go well?

4. When, specifically, would I do it? Best answered with your calendar in front of you, envisioning yourself blocking off all the work time you’d need on actual specific days.

5. What else is going on that day/week/month? Will this new commitment impact any of those things?

6. Who will be helping me? Can I count on them?

7. What other resources (money, supplies, physical/emotional energy) will I need to do it?

8. What else might I be doing with my time and other resources, if I don’t do this?

9. What is the worst thing that could happen if I say no? How likely is that, and what would I do if it actually happened?

10. Will it be fun for me? (This matters a lot.)

11. In my heart and in my gut, do I feel awesome or uncomfortable about agreeing to do this? Go with your instincts!

Remember… it’s okay to take time to think about it before you agree to do something. It’s okay to say no. And it can feel really amazing to say yes with a light heart, knowing that you are making the right choice for you.

How do you make sure you really mean it and feel good about it when you say yes to doing something? Share in the comments.

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Nine Ways to Feel Less Rushed: How to Help Your Calendar Help You

Calendars are an under-appreciated and oft-misused organizational tool. Many people put only some events on their calendars, relying on memory or sticky notes for the rest. Others cram their calendars full of tasks they hope to accomplish on given days, trying to make them serve as a combination calendar and to-do list.

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt, modified by Thekla Richter

Photo by D Sharon Pruitt, modified by Thekla Richter

In an ideal world, your calendar holds all of the date-specific information you need to review on a given day, and all of the time-bound tasks that you need to do. In that same ideal world, your calendar holds nothing more because other items are tracked elsewhere.

1. Choose the right calendar tool.

The best kind of calendar is portable, shareable, impossible to lose and simple for you to use. For most people, an online calendar such as Google Calendar is best. If you don’t carry a smart phone with you, print out your calendar daily and put the printout in your pocket or purse for reference.

If you strongly prefer paper planners, I recommend keeping your planner at home and carrying around a photocopy of the current week. Otherwise, you run the risk of a major organizational meltdown if you ever lose your planner.

2. Don’t use your calendar as a to-do list.

If you want to schedule time on your calendar for projects and action items, or put reminders of projects and deadlines on your calendar, that is great. Just make sure that you are not relying on the calendar to track the very existence of your projects and tasks or to hold information that’s not very specific to dates and times. You’ll want separate lists and tools for that so that your calendar doesn’t get cluttered and confusing.

3. Check your calendar at least once per day.

I check mine at night after LittleA goes to bed, and again in the morning after breakfast (and not-so-coincidentally, after coffee). You will probably check it at other times throughout the day, but choose 1-2 consistent times per day as the minimum and make it an automatic habit. Otherwise, you fall into the trap of trying to memorize your calendar. That’s sub-optimal because a) you will forget things and b) it tends to create stress and waste your energy.

Your calendar can help you only if you actually refer to it frequently and make use of the information you stored there.

4. Don’t schedule without your calendar.

Don’t make any firm commitments unless you are actually looking at your calendar right then AND you add the event to your calendar. That way, you can make sure not to overbook yourself, and you also make sure that all time-based commitments go on your calendar. You can always call someone back or send them a follow-up email and schedule later if your calendar is not available for some reason.

5. Share your calendar with your spouse/partner.

If your calendar is electronic, shared access to each other’s calendars is great. I love viewing my husband’s calendar right aside mine in Google Calendar. We also verbally talk through our upcoming week with our calendars in front of us each Sunday afternoon which also prevents misunderstandings and last-minute logistical issues. If your calendar is not electronic, that kind of verbal checking-in can help even more.

6. Kids can have calendars too.

The older and more independent your children are, the more empowering it can be for them to have their own calendar and help keep it up to date. Having their own calendar helps teach school-age kids important organizational skills and helps you keep track of their commitments. Starting this sooner rather than later paves the way for your kid to do more of their own planning down the road.

7. Create spaciousness with your calendar.

Got an appointment? Make sure that travel time to and from its location is entered on your calendar. Got a meeting at work with someone who tends to run late, or a social event where arriving on time is especially critical? Add a 15-minute window of buffer time before and/or after such calendar events to make sure that spillover won’t ruin anything. If things run on time, you can use the extra time to get a few minutes of work done or to simply relax and enjoy not being rushed.

8. Schedule time for nothing.

Speaking of not being rushed, I highly encourage scheduling time… for not being scheduled. Pre-kiddo, my husband and I used to set aside one day a month as a “do-nothing” day on our calendar, a day during which we were not allowed to make any firm plans ahead of time. These days were usually blissful meanderings full of surprises and serendipity, peace and flow.

These days, I generally schedule one morning or afternoon each weekend as “hold unscheduled” which means that our family won’t book anything that is a commtiment to someone else during that time. Sometimes I’ll move the “hold unscheduled” window around, but I try not to outright cancel it. Some weekends we have more unscheduled time than that just incidentally, but other weekends it ends up being the only time we aren’t go-go-go. That kind of down time is positive for our whole family in keeping us happy, unstressed and reasonably caught up on things like cooking and chores.

9. Review your calendar in depth at least once a week.

This more in-depth review time is primarily to see what might be missing from your calendar and need attention, to make your week flow smoothly as you meet these commitments. Ask yourself:

  • Do I need to add directions or find out the address for an event?
  • Do I need to buy or prepare something to bring to this event? If so, does any time for that need to go on the calendar?
  • Do I need to remind someone about this or confirm something with them?
  • Does my spouse/partner know I’m expecting them to be with the kids at certain times?
  • Do I have a babysitter lined up for that night?
  • Anything else I can do ahead of time for any of these events to make life easier?

Making sure you have time not only to do, but to prepare, will save you a world of stress.

Getting started with shifting your calendar use.

If you’re not already doing most of the these things, the list might feel a bit daunting. That’s okay– you don’t have to make lots of changes at once if that doesn’t feel right. Try adding one or more of these habits into your life, and see if they help you feel less rushed and more organized. As those habits feel more natural, you can continue to make more changes. Once you’ve gotten used to using your calendar well, it will become automatic and very easy. And it will provide you with greater ease as your schedule starts to flow better.

Do you have a tip on making the most of your calendar so that you don’t feel rushed or forget things? Please share in the comments.

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