by Jen Brown (Oleniczak) | Featured Contributor
Ah, New Years. It’s that lovely time of year where everyone is so motivated, articles are flying off of every blog on how to be a better you THIS year – because THIS YEAR IS YOUR YEAR! That little click from 11:59pm, 2017 to 12:00am, 2018 transported you to a whole new YOU and you have none of the same worries, none of the same habits – it’s ALL NEW!
That’s how I view most resolutions and goals.
As I’m writing this, it’s mid-January and I’m 25% of the way through a project I started right before that tick into 2018. Coaching 100 Women Entrepreneurs for 100 Free Hours isn’t something I’m going to drop with any of MY old habits – it is something that’s made me even more painfully aware of how we look at goals, especially as women, and how we set ourselves up for failure.
How could we not though? We set this huge idea up that we need to accomplish in a very short amount of time, never mind that it’s very similar to the idea we had last year or the resolution we thought of in July and called it a goal. We worry about three steps down the line – the What Next becomes the What Next Next and the What Next Next Next, and that Next Next is made up of things that won’t even happen if that first Next isn’t taken – and that crippling feeling of unknown puts us into a state of inaction. And January rolls into February which rolls into March and again, you’re sitting there on December 31st, mulling over what goals you’re going to tackle this year, disappointed last year didn’t stick.
Sound familiar? I swear we’re all the same sometimes.
This year, set yourself up for success in your goals. This doesn’t mean set low goals, or easy wins – I want you to still shoot for the moon! My suggestion? Make an umbrella:
- Set your BIG GOAL. Maybe that’s to get healthy, start a business, get a new job, find love – whatever that is, write that down, in one sentence. That’s the top of the umbrella – the fabric. This CAN be a big thing – you don’t have to worry about aiming small or playing small. Make it clear and a single statement.
- Break it up. You know the spokes on an umbrella that break when you get a super cheap one from the corner store and the gust of wind hits you just right? Yeah those things – your umbrella gets held up by those spokes – which are mini-actions and mini-goals that contribute to the greater big picture. They hold up that big goal. The mini-actions and mini-goals are achievable and active things that you can take control and do without a lot of worrying. You aren’t just waiting around feeling overwhelmed that you need a new job. You are stepping back, looking at these actions and doing them. In order, at random, whatever: they are steps, as little as they may seem, that will contribute to your bigger goal.
**Pro Tip: Use ACTIVE verbs, not PASSIVE verbs – things like ‘self-promote my awesomeness by tweeting three articles I wrote a week’ – not ‘wait for someone to find out how awesome I am’. See the difference?**
- Broken Spoke? NEXT! If a mini-action doesn’t work or fails, whatever that might be for you, reset and try it again in another way. If you get feedback on that resume that it doesn’t show enough experience, rewrite it. Emphasize different areas. Let someone else look it over. And if it fails again? Do what I wish I could have done with some nice umbrellas that broke in NYC – don’t dwell and say NEXT! Move on to another spoke and maybe you’ll think of a new mini-action to replace the ‘broken’ one.
- Take a Break. You know what holds an umbrella up and makes it useful? YOU. If you are falling apart and stressed and exhausted, that umbrella is just plastic and metal. If you are falling apart and stressed and exhausted, those goals are INSANE and unachievable. Take a break, step back and love yourself enough to recover. Then, reassess your umbrella. Do you need to replace some spokes? Try them again in a different way? Keep this pattern going to charge forward.
Remember the definition of a goal – it’s something you strive to do. Something above and beyond every day. You can’t achieve them by doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result. Now get out there with your umbrella.
Jen Brown (Oleniczak) is the Founder and Artistic Director of The Engaging Educator. Through EE, her pedagogical approach of Improv as Continuing Education has reached over 25,000 people – all non-actors! Since 2012, Jen has given three TEDx Talks on the power of Improv, grown EE to three locations in NYC, Winston-Salem, NC and LA, and recently began The Engaging Educator Foundation, a 501(c)(3) which offers free and low-cost Improv workshops for educators, at-risk adults, teens and students on the Autism Spectrum. Jen holds degrees and accreditation from Marquette University, City College of New York, St. Joseph’s University and Second City. Currently, Jen happily resides in Winston-Salem with her husband, who she met while teaching an improv class – and no, he wasn’t the best person in the class, in fact, he was the worst.