What Busy Moms Ought to Know About Setting Goals

I sank into bed feeling totally wrecked from the day. I had spent the whole day being “busy” yet I felt like I was right back where I had started that morning.

I groaned as I rolled over thinking of tomorrow. It was an endless cycle, and I was so tired of it.

​To make matters worse, all I could see when I looked into my future was more of the same. I couldn’t see a way out and felt hopeless.

This is what I had wanted for my life I reminded myself. The guilt ​slithered in as I asked myself why I was so unhappy with the life I had fought so hard for. Was I broken?

​After talking to a close mom friend, I realized that this wasn’t an uncommon feeling. So what was it that we were missing?

I started to look at my life before and my life now, looking for differences. Like a bolt of lightning, the realization hit me all at once.

Before I became a mom, I had goals for myself. Now? Not so much.

​Over the next few days I worked on a set of goals and learned the best ways to get them accomplished when I already felt like I couldn’t get one more thing done.

The results were so amazing that I have to share this with you today.

​Do you ever feel like you’re working so hard, and doing so much, but at the end of the day you’re right back where you started?  I used to feel this way all the time.

I was working full time, taking care of my infant, and all the other responsibilities that come with life.  But no matter how productive I was or how many tasks I checked off my to-do list, I felt like I was right back where I started at the end of the day.

After a while of being frustrated and feeling stuck, I realized that I wasn’t going anywhere because I wasn’t sure where I was going.  I had jumped in my car with no destination in mind.

No wonder as parents we feel overwhelmed and overworked!  We’re taking on too much without a clear path forward and our goals are pushed off for “someday”.

Let’s not live for someday.  I’m going to show you how to set goals and achieve them.

​Why we need to have goals

​​​When you don’t have goals, you spend most of your time on whatever comes up. You focus on whatever emergency task comes out of nowhere just shows up at your door.

You drop everything and take care of it.  We usually don’t stop to question if we even should be dropping everything.

When we take the time to set goals for ourselves, we pick the destination and we are able to get directions to get there.  We lead an intentional life, a life that we control.

We may call it “time management”, but the truth is that we can’t manage time.  We can only manage ourselves and how we react to that time. Times going to keep moving forward no matter what we do!

By setting goals, we also give ourselves a clear path to say no to certain tasks.  If it doesn’t line up with what you want out of your life, then it’s OK to say no.

We don’t have to bake cookies for every bake sale or give every acquaintance a ride home from the airport.By setting goals, we learn to say no to some things, so that we can then turn around and say yes to others.  We create space in our lives for the things that we want to do and make an intentional effort to get there.

​​How to set goals

​There are different ways to set goals.  At the end of the day, there’s no point in setting goals we’re going to blow off.

I’ve done my fair share of blowing off goals. I was setting goals that were too broad and vague.

The goals I set now are SMART goals.  We also use OKRs for our family goals.  Read on to find out more!

​SMART goals explained

SMART goals are a technique for setting goals that you will actually complete.  How often do we set a goal like “lose weight” and then fail to do so?

​That’s because the goal isn’t SMART!  According to MindTools SMART stands for the following:

S – Specific (​also simple, sensible, and significant)

Specific goals help us move in the right direction.  Vague goals don’t help anyone.

Think about it.  Lose weight is very vague.  Lose weight so that I can fit into my favorite dress again is a lot more specific!

M – Measurable (also meaningful and motivating)

​We need to be able to measure our progress.  ​Lose weight so I can fit into my favorite dress again is OK, but Lose ​ten pounds so I can fit into my favorite dress again is more measurable.

​You know you met your goal when you lose the ten pounds and you have an actual number to aim for!  Plus it’s more motivating when you see progress toward a measurable goal.

A – Achievable (also agreed, attainable)

Sometimes we think that we need to aim for the biggest goal we can set.  Go big or go home right?

The problem with that is by doing so, we set ourselves up to fail.  It’s OK to have big dreams but break them down into achievable and attainable dreams.  

It’s a lot more achievable to lose ten pounds than it is to lose 100.  That’s not to say that you can’t lose 100 pounds because you absolutely can, but start with smaller goals and work your way up!

R – ​Relevant (also reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).

​Is this goal something that will move you towards your larger goals?  Is it something that you just feel like you should be doing?​Sometimes it’s easy to set goals that others are setting or goals that we think we ​should​​.​ But that’s not going to keep us motivated.​​​​​​​Lose ten pounds if you’re already at your ideal weight isn’t relevant.  You should be focusing on things that are relevant to ​you.

T – Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

​Finally, you have to set some time limits on these goals.  This will help light a fire under you and help motivate you to get it done.

Saying “I’ll get to it someday” is easy if you don’t have a deadline.  So give yourself a deadline so you get to wear your favorite dress to this year’s Holiday party.​​​

​OKR Goals – Objectives and Key Results

​OKR goals are mostly used in corporate settings and are team based.  However, I’ve found that family units often operate in a way that makes OKR goals work really well.

According to Weekdone, OKRs start with two to three high-level objectives.  These are larger goals for your whole family.​

These are the types of goals that are set by you and your partner as part of a discussion about what you want for your family in the long run.

For each high-level goal, you have three or four ​results that can be measured.  These could be assigned a value or answer a yes or no question.

Your goals are kept in front of your family and everyone works to achieve them.  You always work together to get to the results, and you can see clearly how things are coming along.

Let’s say you and your partner sit down and decide that as a family, you want to spend more time together. You talk it over with your kids and nobody hates the idea and you all agree to make it a family objective.

Now you need to figure out some measurable results.  There is a town carnival coming up and you all want to go. One result might be “We went to the carnival”.  It’s a yes or no question so you either go or you don’t.

Another result might be “We spent one hour at the carnival”.  This is another way to measure because you can actually see how long you spend there.

Which type of result you pick will depend on the goal, and it will also depend on your family.

These goals don’t take long to create and they are easy to review.  They could work really well for families to make some great changes that impact everyone.

​How to achieve them

​Step one is having goals. But having goals means nothing if we don’t actually achieve them.

We need a plan in order to get them done.

If you’re still having problems figuring out your goals, check out my post on ​How to Master Setting Goals and Values to Be a Better Parent!​​​

​12 Week Goals

The 12 Week Year is a fantastic concept that creates a system for time management.  Mike Fishbein​​​ sums it up rather nicely in his post. Essentially, rather than planning for a year, you set goals for 12 weeks or a quarter.  Much more manageable.

Because things change quickly in life, we need to keep in mind that there’s a certain amount of flexibility needed. 12 weeks is long enough to make meaningful progress towards larger goals but short enough that if life changes, you can adapt with it.

First, think about what you want the most out of life.  When you’re life flashes before your eyes, what would make you think “I did what I wanted to do”? Only you can decide what you’re life-goal is.

Next, break it down into a three year period.  Where do you want to be in three years?  It’s close enough that you can practically taste it, but far enough you can pick larger goals. ​

Now you need to figure out your “why“.  This answers the question, “why do you get out of bed in the morning?”  It’s a powerful statement that will help keep you motivated.

Finally, pick three goals for the next 12 weeks.  These goals should be specific and measurable. You will know when they are done.

Goal #1 is your top priority for the next 12 weeks.  You’re going to plan it out first and then work around it.

For each week, write down the tasks that will help you accomplish your goals.  If you have specific tasks or other things to track like appointments etc, those go in the daily boxes. Don’t forget to go back and review at the end of the week!

At the end of 12 weeks, it’s time to evaluate and see how you did.  Did you accomplish your goals?  What went well?  What could be improved? What will you do differently?  And how are you going to celebrate? (My favorite is the last one!)​

I started planning my life around the 12 week year and it’s made a huge​ difference in how I get things done.  At the end of the week, I can see the progress toward my goals, which goes a long way in staying motivated!​​​​​​

​Monthly Goals

​FastCompany has a different take on goal setting.  They advocate for setting large goals and then breaking them down.

​You take your yearly goals that are focused around career, health, self-care, relationships and giving.  Then you break them down into monthly goals, and then weekly goals.  And finally you break your goals down into weekly to-dos.

​By breaking down your goals, you realize how much work needs to get done in order to complete them.  And you can come up with a plan to do so.

It’s a lot easier to tackle smaller goals. It’s not so intimidating when you’re at the foot of a hill instead of the foot of a mountain.

We all have to start somewhere and having small, monthly goals is a great way to start.  It’s a good way to get in the habit of setting goals for yourself that you’re going to actually keep.

​Tools you can use for goal setting

​I’ve rounded up some awesome tools for setting goals.  If you have any great tools that you use, hit me up in the comments and I’ll add them to the list!

​Offline Tools

This post may contain Amazon and other affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.  You don’t pay any extra for the product​. You can read my whole boring ​policy here if you’d like!

  • Parent Smarter Goal Planner – My free download!  It has 12 weeks worth of weekly sheets with pages for planning out your goals
  • ​Bullet Journal – I’m a big fan of bullet journals for writing down all of your thoughts and plans!
  • Whiteboard / chalkboard – I can’t make it through a workday without referring to my whiteboard!  It doesn’t have to be complicated.

​Online Tools

  • ​Airtable (​referral link) – I learned about this tool recently and I’m in love.  I track all my blogging goals in Airtable rather than Excel.
  • ​Trello (​referral link) – This is a great app that is simple to use.  You can create a goal board and work toward completing all your tasks.
  • ​Way of Life App – An app that helps you set habits and stay on track with your goals

​Setting goals now saves you time later

I’ve come to learn that most people don’t take goals seriously because they don’t have time. We’re all too busy and have too much on our plates to take the time to write down goals.  What’s the point?

I take about ten minutes at the start of my week (Sundays are my best day) and I figure out my goals for the week.  I write them down and make sure to focus on those goals.  

Every day I look at my goals and move towards them.  By the end of the week, I’ve made significant progress and met all my small goals that are leading to my larger goals.​​​

Then I look back at all I’ve accomplished and realize that I’ve been more productive than the weeks when I have no goals and just try to get everything done.

Because I have a clear focus, I’m not ​running around doing tasks that are not important and aren’t moving me towards the future I want for myself.

By taking ten minutes every Sunday (usually right after my brain dump), I end up saving myself hours of wasted time.  

So it’s not that you don’t have time to set goals. In reality, you don’t have time ​not​ to set goals.​​​

​My challenge for you today is to set goals for yourself that you will stick to. Not sure where to start?  My free 12-week planner can help!

If you need help with getting rid of the overwhelm, I have an entire series with a system to help. You can find it here: From Overwhelmed to Organized: 7 Steps for Taking Control of Your Life.

Jennifer

​I'm a mom, wife, sister, daughter, and friend. After a successful career in software ​engineering, I started working part time as a project manager. I was overwhelmed with all of these new life changes and felt like I was drowning in my life. ​After trying so many different systems that didn't work for me, I looked into why they didn't work and came up with a system that worked for me. Today, I want to share what I've learned with you so you can stop feeling overwhelmed and start living an intentional life.

Blog Comments

I love how you broke this all down to help people make better goals that they can actually achieve. I just got much better at making my blogging goals monthly and not trying to set myself for failure by keeping everything attainable. I’m going to try out Trello!

Thank you! That’s the real trick, keeping them as something you are able to accomplish. I’m a big fan of Trello as a productivity app!

Super great details of setting up goals for success!

Thank you Brittany!

This is a great guide for making and achieving your goals. Will come in handy, especially over the next few
months.

Thank you! This is a great time of year to set goals, but what I love about a 12 week year is that it comes up a lot more frequently 🙂

I learned how to make SMART goals in college and always used them when I was working, but I never thought to apply them to my life as a mom. I can only imagine how much more productive I would be if I were more goal-oriented!

It really works! The trick is to reuse all those great productivity tricks we use in school or work and use them to become a productive super power at home!

Great post! Setting goals is so important. I use a planner to write all my goals in.

What kind of planner do you use? I’m obsessed with my Happy Planner!

This is wonderfully informative. Thank you so much for sharing!

Thank you! I’m glad you were able to get something out of it 🙂

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