Why do we want what we want?

Our list of goals in life, whether carefully crafted and written out in detail or simply floating around in our heads, tell us something about what we really want out of life. When you take a good look at that list, achieving a goal, attaining a possession or status, is less about acquiring that thing and more about the feeling - the emotion - we are are yearning for.

You may read this and have an initial reaction of "Hey, wait a second. This trickster is going to try and talk me out of wanting that boat because it's materialistic and not what life is really all about." Don't worry - you can keep the boat on your list and hopefully have weekends filled with sunshine, lake breezes and cool cocktails! This isn't about taking materialistic goals off of your list at all, it's just about taking a good look at your list and figuring out what each goal, each achievement you are seeking, is really all about.

Let's say you have a big house on a corner lot on your goal list. You may even know which house it is. You may drive by it every Sunday afternoon. Just seeing it gives you peace and an inner motivation to take on the work week ahead of you! What you may not realize is that you don't really want that house on the corner lot. That house may signify security when you are feeling unstable. It may signify status when you are feeling less than. It may signify pride of achievement when you are feeling weary from lack of progress. There are deeper emotions at play here and in order to really connect with our goals, we must find out what we are truly searching for and better understand what we actually want out of life.

If we can attach an emotion to our goal and focus on how to bring that emotion into our lives, a funny thing can happen - our list of goals may grow or even shift. We learn that there are a number of different ways to bring that emotion into our lives, and it can happen fast than we had planned for.

I read a quote a few years back that said, "You are responsible for the energy you bring into this room". It is so true! We cannot wait for outside forces to make us happy, to feel successful, to feel optimistic or energetic. We need to bring that energy into the room with us. So, if you have a goal of buying a boat so that you can have more adventure and freedom in your life - you can keep that boat on your list. I mean, who wouldn't want a boat, right? But don't wait for the boat. Find ways to add adventure and freedom into your life right now. Wake up on Saturday, put on your sneakers, pack a lunch and a bottle of water, and go for a hike. You can infuse the emotion you are seeking into your life TODAY.

We will never achieve happiness if we put it on the other side of achievement.

In today's worksheet, you'll rewrite your too big and too small goals and attach the emotion you are seeking by reaching that goal. If you haven't read last week's post on this, start with that post. For each goal, you may find that more than one emotion comes up, and that's okay. You also may find that a single emotion is feeding many goals. Once your list is complete, pull out your top 2-4 emotions you are seeking to heighten in your life. These will be used in next week's homework!

Listening to your heart

Welcome to Building the Life You Want, our weekly series for August & September. Each week we'll be covering a new step to help you uncover what it is you really want to focus on, what type of life you want to build for yourself. If you are wanting to follow along with the series, I'd suggest giving yourself 30 minutes a week to read through the post and complete the worksheet. A new post will be available every Tuesday.

I'm excited to see where we can go when we set intentional, mindful goals for our life!

Day One: Have you ever really defined what you want out of life?

Many of us are toggling between at least two type of days.

Option One: The day goes by filled with task after task until the day is done and we chalk it up to just another one of those days.

Option Two: We get a wave of inspiration, become energized by the possibility of what the future could hold - if only we did THIS THING! But, we let that energy fade because we are either too scared to make that dream a reality or we let that list of tasks take over once again.

Unfortunately, neither of these options help us move forward and build the life we want.

I did this for years. Yes....years. I talked a big game - oh yeah, I had DREAMS! And usually I could tell you items 1-100 that I needed to do to make those dreams a reality. But, suiting up and getting myself out onto that playing field - that was another story.

I was scared.

I was scared that I'd get in over my head. Sure, I know how to do items 1-5, but that number 6 ... whew, people will surely realize that I'm not meant to be there by that point.

I was scared that because I had so many dreams that I wouldn't choose the right one. What if I get into it and it's not what I really want?

I was scared that the dream was better than the reality. As long as I kept it out there - out at some future date - it couldn't hurt me. I could make my dream as BIG as I could make it and I couldn't fail at something I was planning on doing.

I had friends and family cheering me on. People loved that I LOVED to dream and they just knew that I'd make it happen, one day.

And that was a happy place to be in - until it wasn't.

I don't think I'm alone in this. I believe many of us grew up with big dreams. We'd sit around our dorm rooms in college talking about what we'd become - someday. And we believed it. Oh yes, our someday would come - after we achieve this and get this thing done. Then we'd have time to focus on ourselves and make our dreams a reality.

Then our lives become focused on those little things, on getting ourselves settled in life. Or, those wonderful little beings called children entered our lives and the idea that it was NOW time to focus on ourselves and OUR dreams - was laughable.

We have important, grown-up things to take care of now.

All of this puts us in a place where we might not know what we really want out of life. Those dreams that we made unattainable, for the fun of it or to keep us safe from ever having to actually pursue them - they aren't really want we want out of life. Few of us can stand firmly in proclaiming that what we really want out of life is a beach house for the summer, a housekeeper, nanny and chef, a lake house for those cozy fall weekends, a mountain cabin for adventurous winters, to travel to far reaching parts of the globe, and of course to support various charities.

We've created a dream life for ourselves that is just that - a dream.

So what is it that we tell ourselves we want? We create a realistic, achievable vision for what we want out of life that's so small or responsible that it's boring.

We aren't motivated by saying we want to save for our kids college, pay off our mortgage and have enough tucked away to splurge ever once in awhile. Few people wake up with vigor and energy ready to pay off that student loan.

And nowhere in either of these definitions of what we want out of life can you find anything about what your life actually feels like.

We are stuck between dreaming too big or too small.

You dream too big and you risk it remaining a dream, never to be pursued. You dream too small and yes, you may check off those boxes, but are you living a fulfilled life?

Luckily these too big & too small dreams can give us hints as to what we are really looking for out of life!

Today's worksheet will help you brainstorm around both visions you have for your life. Both the dream life that is so big it may just remain a dream and that responsible grown-up vision for your life where you achieve everything you are supposed to achieve.

When you complete these sections, complete them with the achievements or things you've always dreamed of rather than anything you think you should be dreaming about. What I mean here is that our society has a tendency to tell us what success should look like - you know those images of the rich and famous sipping champagne on a yacht off the coast of France. If that is a media-created dream and not a dream you have in your heart, don't include it. I want YOUR big dreams.

At the bottom of the worksheet you'll find a section to write what you want your life to feel like. This is an extremely important part of goal setting that we often overlook. Imagine yourself waking up and going through your Ideal Day and all the feelings you want associated with the different pieces of your day. Use emotional words like peaceful, energized, intrigued, fulfilled, proud, inquisitive, adventurous, challenged, soul-filled, connected. Make sure you can define these words for yourself. If you include "fulfilled", in what way? What does that mean to you?

We'll continue our Build the Life You Want series next week with Why do we want what we want?

A pretty piece of paper won't simplify your life.

A piece of paper won't simplify your life. It doesn't matter how pretty it is, how many blush colored check boxes or beautifully categorized sections there are. As someone who spends their day creating pieces of paper that people claim will "save your day", I should know. 

We all go through seasons in our lives when we feel like we don't have it all together. Our schedules are packed to the brim and we are trying to balance work, appointments, practices, school projects, feeding our family three times a day and keeping all the socks in the right drawers. As a mother to four young girls, that task of keeping the socks in the right drawers is actually more difficult than it sounds. For awhile wearing mix-matched socks was a thing and I loved it. Now they want matching socks and so I'm back at it again.

For many of us, it feels like most of our life is spent in this space, where we are just trying to get through the day without letting any balls drop. We tell ourselves that it's just today, it's just this week. If only I can get through this month, past this "event", then things will slow down and we can recenter ourselves. And then it comes - a small window of time where everything is finally just right. We feel like we have space to breathe. Our tunnel vision is turned off and just for a moment and we can step back and look at the big picture. We see our kids playing in the backyard and their laughter and play fighting makes us smile. We take the time to pause when our spouse returns home from work - we walk over to them, really see them and ask them how their day went. We have a Saturday free of obligation and allow everyone to stay in their PJs all day and just BE with no agenda, no plan for the day.

I don't believe we can stay in this state, where everything seems to just flow the way it should, at all times. I know that there are times when outside forces tend to take over our schedules. And this is why a pretty piece of paper will not solve your hectic-life problems. If it's all just too much, writing it in neatly organized categories won't help that feeling of overwhelm. That feeling that life is passing you by while you are busy getting all the things done. What needs to happen is a mind-shift. You must look back at those days or weeks when everything just worked, and you must want to make a change. You must want to live slower. This is where some tough self-love comes in. If your life is too busy, you are the only one who can slow it down. It's not difficult to do, but it does require you to set aside some time to take a step back, look at the big picture of what's working and what's not working, and create a plan to make a shift.

And this is where those pretty pieces of paper come in.  If you are ready to slow down, if you are ready to spend your summer with your kids doing some old-fashioned, back-to-basics animal-shaped cloud watching - well then it's time to start planning for that. It may sound counter-intuitive, but I plan so that I can have the freedom to let life happen. I plan so that I can walk away from my desk at 3:30 when my girls get off the bus and they can have me for the afternoon. I plan so that we can have those Saturdays full of nothing to do, no where to be. I plan so that things are either checked off or scheduled for later and I can BE with the people in the room with me.

If you are ready to make that shift we have a few pretty pieces of paper that can help you get there. Our 2017-18 planner collection is now available to order and will help to make July 1st your new January 1st. If you have any questions on which layout will work best for the way YOU plan please email us at hello@sheplans.com and we can help you choose your right layout.

 

 

Redefining Success

How do you define success? Have you ever taken the time to actually put thought into what YOUR definition of success is?

Many of us think we know what success is. We see elements of success all around us - the big houses, the fancy cars, the lavish trips. For years I'd play a game with myself, dreaming of what would happen when I won the big lottery. You know, the drawings that are $300 million+ that quickly become nationwide sensations. I'd dream of how I would spend the money, who I would share it with, and what experiences we could have as a family. When I thought of business success it was close to the same way - always a fanciful dream of what would happen IF.

Then, a few months ago, someone in a business workshop asked the group how they defined success. I sat there, quietly listening to many well thought out plans for success and quickly realized something. I had two definitions of success, and neither of them was MY vision of success. My first was a dream-definition of success that was so big and lustrous that I placed it in my "dream world" scenario - a place that I don't believe I'll ever live. These are the dreams of Chip and Jo knocking on your door on a Tuesday afternoon wanting to remodel your home and feature it on their next episode. These are the dreams of Target picking up your line of planners and being featured on GMA or in Oprah's Favorite Things. And of course I have those idols of business that I admire and would tell myself that "If I am able to reach her level of success" I'd have really made it. I had this dream of success all mapped out, but it was so big that I was in no way connected to it really happening. It was all just fun daydreaming.

Then I had a second definition of success that was small - very small. It really boiled down to not failing. My first ever business success was making enough money in one season to purchase product for the following season. Not having to use my own money any longer, that felt like success. And then from there I simply defined success as selling out of planners each season. That meant that I was able to forecast correctly and that customers were still coming back. While that is technically a successful season, it's not a very exciting definition of success.

I realized that I am scared to create a true life definition of SUCCESS. I can name all the things I have that are great in my life, and I believe they are pieces of success. I am able to stay home with my kids - success. I am able to put a meal on the table for my kids and take them out to dinner and a movie on their birthdays - success. I am able to plan summer vacations and sneak away for a date night with my husband - success. But those just-out-of-reach markers of success that push you, that force you to live just a little bigger this year than you did last year, those frighten me because I could fail to reach them. 

I don't have a pretty little bow to wrap this up with. I haven't yet redefined success for myself, but for the first time I've realized the importance of having a real, solid definition of success and doing so has been add to my Q2 Focus Goals. I have been working on it slowly, wanting to really connect with my definition so that it drives me to push myself but doesn't scare me away. If you don't yet have a definition of success for yourself or your business, I'd love for you to join me this quarter in making it a priority. We can share what we've created at the end of June!

 

It's okay to turn off.

Every Sunday I see tons of posts about preparing for the week ahead. How to map out a plan that will set you up for success. Simple life hacks to streamline your week. I'm usually right there on the bandwagon with Fresh Start Sunday where the family spends the morning and early afternoon getting the house ready for the school week ahead of us. But, sometimes it's different.

Sometimes I think the message that isn't being said enough is that it's okay to NOT get ready for the week ahead of you. It's okay to NOT be busy. Society is constantly telling us to get up, get out, be active, make a plan, be the best YOU you can be. If this was the last day of your life how would you spend it? And then add in our internal drive plus the events and activities that are actually necessary to function - well that's just a whole lot of busy. But our bodies, and more importantly our brains, need to turn off, to not have a problem to solve, and to actually... be BORED sometimes. Yes. Bored.

Remember when you were a child and you'd have a weekend at home with nothing much to do? You may have wandered around the house for a bit until you came up with something great to do - and that something was usually pretty awesome. I find that with my own children all the time. It's those times when I force them to turn the TV off that, after sitting around for awhile complaining, they come up with the most imaginative and entertaining games for themselves. Your brain needs this. Busy can be addicting. Let's say that again. BUSY CAN BE ADDICTING. And your brain needs rest. It needs to not always be lead, but to have the opportunity to lead you. And that doesn't happen until you sit back for long enough to let it take over.

So why not skip those soccer games this week? Why not RSVP "no" to those three birthday parties your children have been invited to? Why not just a plan an entire weekend of NOTHING and see what happens. Do those old dusty board games get pulled off the shelves? Do the kids pull out the sidewalk chalk and create marvelous works of art? Do you get to TAKE A NAP on a Sunday afternoon? Do you and your husband have a deep conversation about gummy bears vs gummy worms? By the way ... it's gummy bears all the way.

Life isn't always about scaling the mountain. Sometimes it's about laying in the field and finding cloud animals.