Live & Learn: My Biggest Mistake of 2021 and Why I Won’t Skip Goal Setting Ever Again

November 29, 2021

Reading Time: 7 minutes

Hey friends, and welcome to Episode 105 of It’s About Time – a Podcast sharing stories and strategies to inspire women seeking better Work, Life and Balance. I’m your host time management coach, Anna Dearmon Kornick and in today’s episode, I’m sharing the biggest mistake I made in 2021. This isn’t super easy for me to admit, but I know that by sharing my big mistake, hopefully it will keep you from making the same one as we’re wrapping up the year. Where did I go wrong? Well – I didn’t set goals for the year. I know – I know. As a time management coach, and someone who coaches others on goal setting, managing time well and living with intention – I realize it sounds a little crazy. But it’s true. 

At the end of 2020, I was scrambling to sell our house, find a new one, pack, move and unpack – all while 8 months pregnant. It was a whirlwind. 

So in this episode, I’m opening up and sharing:

  • Why not setting goals was the biggest mistake I made in 2021
  • What it was like to have a year without goals
  • 3 important life lessons I’ve learned the hard way about goal setting
  • What I’m doing differently to prepare for 2022

They say hindsight is 2020, but honestly, I’m more relieved to have 2021 almost in the rearview mirror. 

This year has been hard. So hard. For me, much harder than 2020. 

Sure – 2020 had its own unique challenges and crazy curveballs. We were introduced to a pandemic, experienced the fear of the unknown being in uncharted territory. I remember having some seriously high stress moments as we were figuring out how to live life with a new set of rules and routines.

2021 was challenging – for me – for a different set of reasons.

First of all – we made the tough decision to sell our home and move to a new city right after Christmas. Scott had recently started a new role with his company, at a new location, almost 2 hours from our home. And with Elizabeth on the way in March, we wanted to cut his 4 hour commute down so he could have more time at home to help with our soon-to-be family of four.

So instead of transitioning from the hustle and bustle of the holiday season to settling into the New Year and peacefully prepping for baby girl like I expected going into December, instead – the hustle and bustle of the holidays went straight into cleaning, listing the house, searching for a new house, packing and moving. 

When we moved into our new home on February 5th, I barely had time to catch my breath before we welcomed Elizabeth on March 6th.

I told myself back in December – I’ll sit down and tackle my goal setting when things calm down after the holidays. 

After the holidays, I told myself – I’ll sit down and tackle goal setting when things calm down after we get the house sold. When things calm down after we get packed. After we move. After we get settled in.

Spoiler alert – things never calmed down. Truth be told it’s the last Monday in November, and it still feels like things haven’t calmed down. 

Lesson Learned Number 1: Life isn’t just going to magically calm down, or slow down so you can do that thing you’ve been putting off. No one is going to calm your life down for you. No one is going to wave a magic wand over your calendar and remove your meetings and obligations. There will always be things to do. Stop waiting for the perfect time to appear and just do the thing already. 

For me – the thing – goal setting – typically looks like doing the goal setting exercise I talk about in Episode 8 and Episode 9. I look back and reflect on the past year – what worked, what didn’t, and what I learned. Then, I consider the present – who am I now, and what are my roles and responsibilities. Finally – I set goals for the future. Typically 3 personal goals, 3 professional goals, 3 financial goals and 3 fun goals. Personal, professional, financial and fun. I’ll make sure those goals are SMART – specific, measurable, attainable or adventurous, relevant and time bound. And then I wrap it up by making a vision board and choosing my word of the year.

So what did this year look like? This – year without goals?

I’ll start with what I did right.

I did choose a word of the year. My word was Simplify – and it’s been VERY helpful. Although the sticky note I created back in January has long lost it’s sticky and met the recycling bin, I haven’t forgotten it, and it’s remained in the back of my mind throughout the year. So – one of my strengths, according to CliftonStrengths, a personality assessment that ranks your strengths from 1 to 34 – if you’ve never taken it, I highly recommend it. 

My top strength is actually Strategic. Which means I can see lots of different angles and alternatives for doing something. I see a problem, and my mind goes to work creating all kinds of different strategies and mentally sorting to find the best one.

The problem is – I very often can overcomplicate things, because I’ll come up with what seems like the best most comprehensive level 100 strategy, when a level 10 probably would do just fine.

Anyway – reminding myself that my word of the year is Simplify has helped me cut clutter in our home. It helped me donate some things and pack others when we moved in February. It’s helped me clear out my closet and look at the way I set up my business processes with a fresh set of eyes.  How can I make this simple, is the question I always try to ask myself.

I also managed to do some very lowkey goal setting and annual planning at the end of 2020 to map out my maternity leave. That helped me make sure to take the time off I needed and wanted to spend with Elizabeth those first few months. 

I actually shared the details for how I prepped for maternity leave back in Episode 70 if you’re curious about what that looked like. 

But even though I mapped out that maternity leave prep I didn’t really set clear goals for the year. I had some ideas, and there were things I wanted to do, but they weren’t true goals.

Lesson Learned Number 2: Having ideas for things that you want to do is great, but ideas aren’t a direct path to accomplishment. Setting a goal and making a plan will get you there. 

So here’s what didn’t go so well.

I wanted to relaunch one-on-one coaching in June. I also wanted to launch a group coaching program this past fall. Neither of those things happened. I wanted to do big things in my coaching business this year, despite so many people telling me to take it easy after the move, after having a baby, and adjusting to life with two kids. Part of me wanted to prove that I could still do it all, despite everything going on in my life. 

I’ll say part of the struggle was due to childcare – something that many of us have dealt with in a variety ways over the past almost two years. I didn’t have any consistent help with Elizabeth until August. It felt like no matter how well I planned my day, I still couldn’t do everything I needed or wanted to do. 

And then Hurricane Ida hit Louisiana at the end of September, which turned everything upside down all over again. Literally – the storm ripped the roof off of the girls’ daycare center, which made childcare a challenge all over again. 

And part of me can’t believe I’m admitting all of this – but I hope that you see two things here:

  • First: Setting goals is powerful. They give you a clear vision for the future, and set you up to create a plan to make them happen. Without that clear vision, everything is going to feel harder.
  • Second: I’m not perfect. Instead of carving out time for intentionally goal setting and planning, I got to experience a year without goals. I didn’t like it, and I believe more strongly than ever before that taking time to look back, look forward and set goals is a non-negotiable. 

But – life happens.

And I have a funny relationship with the idea of “life happens.” Because it’s true – the unpredictable, the unexpected will happen. Things will come up. A storm will sweep south Louisiana. Daycare will close. The babysitter will cancel. Someone will get sick.

Life happens.

There were times that I was so frustrated by circumstances beyond my control that it made me hate goal setting. I’d think – What’s the point of setting goals and creating a plan when everything just blows up in your face. 

Well – the difference is that when you have goals and things get off track, you have a track to get back on to. You can reshuffle dates or rearrange timelines.

When you don’t have a true plan in place, anything to work toward, you just kind of spin out and wander. You’re not heading in any specific direction, so you just kind of feel all over the place. 

Life Lesson Number 3: “Life happens” is not an excuse to skip goal setting. Life will always happen. Having goals gives you a direction and a path to get back to when you get knocked off course when life happens.

So here’s what it felt like to have a year without clear goals.

Honestly – it felt like being a rudderless ship. Like I was flying by the seat of my pants. I didn’t like it. I had a hard time focusing, and I spent more time being reactive than proactive. 

Every time I sat down at my desk, it felt like a scramble. Like I was playing a neverending game of catchup. 

You know those weekends where you look back and can’t remember what you did, because you didn’t really do anything memorable or out of the ordinary? 

It felt a lot like that. 

And if you’re thinking – Well Anna, why didn’t you stop and set clear goals when you realized what was happening? 

Well – because it took me a while to figure out what exactly the problem was. I thought – if I can just work more, or wake up earlier, or do this one thing – then everything will calm down and I’ll make things happen. 

So what am I doing differently this year? 

Well – if it’s not painfully obvious at this point, I’m getting back to goal setting. I’m committing to doing it, and I’m inviting you to join me.

Make sure you tune in next week when I’ll be sharing the details for 2022 – Plan with Purpose, a LIVE goal setting and annual planning masterclass happening on Tuesday, December 28th. I’ve wanted to do something like this for years, and this year I’m determined to make it happen. Trust me, I’ll never skip goal setting again. Don’t let 2022 be a year without goals for you – tune in for more details next week!

Before we go, let me tell you a little bit about next week’s episode – Episode 106 – Next week is all about asking questions. In fact, I’ll be sharing the exact questions you should ask yourself to wrap up the year with intention, and plan the year ahead with purpose. Plus, I’m sharing details about Plan with Purpose, my live planning masterclass happening on Tuesday, December 28th. 

Alright – that’s all for today. Thanks so much for tuning in. Talk to you soon!

What will it take you to get from chaos to calm?

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