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Seven Reasons Your Goals Aren’t Working

You know those goals swirling around in your head? The ideas you've only shared with those closest to you—or perhaps no one at all? You're ready to bring them to life but something's standing in your way. We want to help!

Unsure about this whole goal-setting thing? That's okay! Our personalities affect how we set and achieve goals, and sometimes all of us need a kick in the pants to finally move forward. Ready to bust some goal-getting myths once and for all? Let's do it!

1. "It takes a lot of time to set goals."
Ever wonder why Ted Talks are exactly 18 minutes—no more, no less? Let's get fancy and talk neuroscience for a minute. There's this thing called cognitive backlog. Research shows that our brains process an ideal amount of information to affect change in 18 to 20 minutes. Any less and our brains don't get enough info to commit—sort of like speed dating. Any more, and our stress receptors go up and we fall into cognitive overload—it's simply too much! There's a sweet spot that helps our brains connect to what matters. How does this help us with our goals? It takes an average of 18 minutes per month to do the 8 goal setting pages in the PowerSheets—guided worksheets that help you prioritize your time, energize your life, and eliminate unnecessary to-do's. If it only took two minutes a month, you wouldn't get much out of it! Your brain would forget and you'd find yourself at the end of another year wondering where it went. 18 minutes is just what you need! That's about the same amount of time it takes to watch a TV show (minus commercials), fold a load of laundry, meal plan for the week, get ready for work, tidy the house, unload the dishwasher 3 times, or prep for dinner. These 18 minutes is different, though—these 18 minutes helps you prioritize what matters and use your time intentionally instead of by accident. A lot can happen in 18 minutes. This 18 minutes could change your life. Feel like you don't have any time to spare? In 2018 so far, Americans have spent an average of 40 minutes a day on social media. Such a great perspective! What would happen if we traded a little social media time for life-giving goal time? Our hearts are doing cartwheels just thinking about it! 18 minutes is the sweet spot your brain needs to connect to what matters and become convinced to act on it.

2. "I'm just a fill in the blank."
You fight feelings of not being enough at times, saying to yourself that you are "just" a student, "just" a stay-at-home mom, "just" an empty-nester—or whatever it is that creeps into your heart from time to time (or perhaps all the time). We all have those moments where comparison or cultural pressures try to tell us we're not enough. There's so much noise out there and we're here to help you cut right through it so you can live out what matters to you. It's time to lay some truth down, friends! You're not just anything—you're YOU. Marvelous, wonderful you! And your goals matter enough to cultivate them—growing them over time as you take small steps forward (and some big leaps along the way, too). You were put on this Earth for a reason, and it's time to make it happen. Next time the "just's" start trying to crush your goal-getting mojo, get after them and say this out loud: I am just ME! Marvelous, intentional, perfectly imperfect ME!

3. "My goals don't feel lofty enough – I just want to be able to finish my laundry every week!"
All hail the magic of finished laundry! :) How do you balance the day-to-day with the big-picture, though? It can feel impossible, can't it? Our daily to-dos can press in on us most days, leaving no time for anything else. "Big" goals? Ha! Maybe someday when there's no more laundry to do (never)! On top of that, when we see other people's goals that seem "bigger" than ours, it can make a girl feel like her life is going nowhere. Ready for some really good news? The mundane takes on a whole new meaning when you look at it through a cultivated lens. Little conversations on a lunch break with a new friend can add up to a lifelong friendship. Practicing piano for five minutes a day can add up to a life of music. Little by little, the small things add up to the big things. The seemingly small everyday things add up to a life. Our lives will bloom through daily decisions and habits—daily tending, nurturing, and pruning—not just the giant leaps made once in a while—laundry included. It matters. The big leaps are important, but the way we live every moment—even the seemingly mundane parts of our days—can add up to a life of purpose.
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4. "Taking time to set my own goals feels selfish."
You are speaking our language! It definitely can be. That's why we do things differently. Instead of focusing only on ourselves without thinking of anyone else, we are here to guide you to intentionally fill your well so you can love others. Think about it. What would happen to the people in your life if you lived out your purpose and used your gifts and talents well? Would they be blessed too? If the answer is yes, lean in. Taking time to prioritize is like planting seeds for everyone around you—little by little you'll gain new energy and focus to cultivate what matters in your life. That creates a ripple effect in the lives of those around you, too! Cultivated goal setting is about loving others well.

5. "The PowerSheets are too pretty; I don't want to mess them up!"
Gather 'round. Let's chat, my friend! First of all, you are not alone! When we get a new journal, or notepad, or PowerSheets, it can be tempting to want to keep them looking pristine. But. But but but! Real talk: where is that going to get you? Are you going to let your pen choice or handwriting stop you from making what matters happen? Didn't think so. Make a mess! ;)

6. "I'm afraid of failing."
Us too! And ready for some good news? That's good! If you're scared, it means you care about that thing! It's a sign there's something there worth conquering. Fear is an opportunity. When you get honest about what's holding you back, you open yourself to good change. Little by little, you exchange a life of fear for a life that fires you up!

7. "I'm scared to know my purpose."
Do you know what's funny? More of us are afraid of success than we are of failure. Why is that, though? For many of us, the thought of knowing our purpose and actually succeeding in it feels like it's going to be a big life change. (Are you feeling that?) And sometimes, it can feel impossible, right? (Feeling that too??) For a moment, though, let's just imagine it. How would you feel if you knew you were living on purpose instead of by accident? What would that look like? How would your life change if you had clear goals and a quiet confidence in your path? It's almost hard to imagine, isn't it!? We can feel so far away from getting there. But, that's the beauty of cultivating. Success doesn't happen overnight, and it doesn't need to. Little by little, as you lean into your purpose, and away from all the noise out there, you will feel equipped and confident. We're here to guide you and cheer you on every step of the way!

In case you haven't already, bookmark this post for the days you need a refresh (we all do!), and get ready for some real motivation when the 2019 PowerSheets Collection launches on October 24th!

You know all those things you've always wanted to do? You are ready to go DO them!

Your turn! Which point was your favorite? Did one stand out to you? We can't wait to hear from you in the comments below!

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Ask a Cultivator: Jessica Turner

We've been longtime fans of Jessica Turner! Her first book, The Fringe Hours, served as a personal permission slip for me to prioritize taking care of myself, and it's since shown up in my PowerSheets goals each year. She was kind enough to send us an advance copy of her brand new book, Stretched Too Thinto read through, and I knew a few pages in she'd be a great fit for our new Ask a Cultivator blog series! Today she's answering some of YOUR questions from Instagram about how to balance multiple priorities, take care of yourself and your family, and she's sharing all her productivity hacks. Enjoy!

How do you get it all done when you work a demanding full-time job? I don’t get it all done! Instead, I prioritize what really matters and am comfortable with "good enough is good enough" for the rest. My husband and I work together to meet the needs of our family and that is what it is most important.

What are some surprising things you DON'T do? Regular followers of me know this already, but I am terrible at keeping up with housework. If you arrived to my house unannounced, chances are you would see a cluttered dining room table and a heaped laundry basket near the hall closet where our washer and dryer are stored. I try, but with three little kids and an immensely busy work life, something has to give—and that something is the house! We do budget for a cleaning service to come twice a month and that makes a huge difference. It’s the best money I spend every month. I also don’t volunteer much at my kids’ schools. I would love to, but it just isn’t feasible with my work. I try to help in other ways, like donating to raffles, giving gifts to teachers to let them know they are appreciated, etc.

How do you prioritize when everything seems urgent or top priority, or when different projects are a priority for different reasons? Let me start by sharing an analogy. In my new book Stretched Too Thin, I included a response given by another working mom in a survey I conducted. She said, "The best advice I was ever given was to imagine that my life was a juggling act. Only some of my balls are glass and some rubber. I can drop the rubber balls and pick them up later and they aren’t any different. However, if I drop a glass ball, they are broken forever—no matter how hard you try to fix it. The key then is to determine which balls are your glass balls." If you look at your priorities as rubber or glass balls, it can become easy to see what really matters. There isn’t a hard and fast answer for how to prioritize things because every situation is different. I believe most things we treat like an emergency are not actually emergencies. We need to be better about stepping back and saying, what is the next best thing for me to do right now? Where am I really needed? What deadlines are real and what are self-imposed?
Establishing boundaries can help you to make the best choices for living the life you want. For instance, it is important for me to leave work every day at 5 p.m. So, even when I have a full plate and a lot of deadlines, I work hard to leave at 5 so that I can have that time with my family.

What are practical ways you incorporate self-care in your life? Why is it important? Self-care is one of the biggest struggles working moms face, with 4 out of 5 saying that it is a challenge for them to make it a priority. I have learned that I am my best when I take care of myself and that I don’t do anyone any favors when I skip out on me. A few ways I incorporate self-care are by taking time to pray, read books (check out my @booksnobbery Instagram account for my latest reads), and travel. I also am diligent about taking care of my health and am sure to make time for regular physicals, dental appointments, etc.

What are some of your favorite work productivity hacks? Make a list: When you document what you need to do, you are more likely to complete it. If something doesn’t make it on my to-do list, it likely will get forgotten. I live and breathe by that list. Turn off email and social media. Both are incredible distractions, so turn them off so you can focus on the work you need to accomplish. Work off-site: If your job allows, work off-site. You will find that you have fewer distractions than in the office and complete work more efficiently. My job allows me to work remote one day a week and has been a game changer for me in terms of productivity. Schedule time for specific projects: By blocking time on your office calendar to complete a project, you can ensure you complete the task.

What encouragement would you give to mothers in the "thick of it"? You are a great mom. Trust in that. Don’t get distracted by other moms on social media and what they are doing in their families. Instead, focus on what you are doing in your own home. Recognize that it is the quality of time that you spend with your kids, not the quantity of time. When you are with your kids, try to be fully present. Put your phone aside. Turn off the television. Play together. And know that the best mom for your kids is the one they have—you.

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Don't forget to snag a copy of Stretched Too Thin (which released today!) for equal parts encouragement and practical next steps to do just what the subline says: lose the guilt, work smarter, and thrive! While I'm not necessarily in a season of motherhood, I can assure you I dog-eared, highlighted, and underlined plenty of pages full of truth for myself. You can follow along with Jessica on Instagram and her blog.

Did you have a favorite takeaway? What questions do you have for future fellow Cultivators? Any suggestions on women you'd like to see in our monthly column? Feel free to leave a comment below! We love hearing from you!

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What’s Your Goal-Getting Personality? [FREE QUIZ]

If you've spent any amount of time around me, you know I'm a big personality test geek! One of my biggest contributions to the Cultivate team is getting everyone hooked on the Enneagram. Why? Because I firmly believe learning more about ourselves will only help us achieve our goals in the long run. Did you know your personality influences more than how you set goals? It actually affects how you achieve them, too!

Maybe you have a long list of ideas floating around in your head and need help choosing a few to focus on. Maybe you're so good at checking things off your list you've lost sight of what matters most to you. Maybe you need a gentle nudge to take a leap of faith and put your goals on paper. Or maybe, just maybe, you're skeptical of this whole goal-setting thing in general.

We get it! And guess what? We want to help you! Not only will our Goal-Getting Personality Quiz help you uncover your personality, but we'll also give you a list of blog posts, Cultivate Shop products, and resources to help you make things happen–no perfection required!

I'm curious! What did you get? Was it accurate? Leave a comment, and let me know your personality!

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Meet Julie, our new Marketing Director

When we introduced Ashlea and Jordan earlier this year, we told you our core values aren't things we teach or train on, they're just a part of who we are. We invest a lot of time and energy into the hiring and onboarding process because we firmly believe in investing in the right people. A question we're often asked is why we keep new team members secret for a few months, and the answer is actually simple! Because each role is forward-facing, we love giving new team members the opportunity to focus solely on getting to know the team and understanding his/her new role first! It also makes introduction days even more exciting!

Meet Julie, our new Marketing Director! Julie's been on our team for the past few months, and she's already been an invaluable resource to each of us! We often say, "You can’t do it all and do it well, but you can choose to cultivate what matters," and the same applies to the work we do every single day! Julie has been instrumental in leading our team to focus on the most important thing–the goals we set as a team to help women uncover what matters most–and say no to rest. She has a love for numbers, data-crunching, and spreadsheets, and she's integrating everything we do back to our core values and our mission. Why? We have good ideas sometimes, but we also know saying no to one thing gives us the opportunity to say yes to something better, preserving our time, energy and resources for the best thing, not just the next thing.

Keep reading to get to know Julie. We're lucky to have her serving our team and this community alongside us each and every day!

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What's your title? Marketing Director

What have you been doing since June? Where do I even begin to answer this question? So much has happened in these short three months! The team has been so generous with their time and training and equipping me for success. I am learning, learning and learning some more. I've spent lots of time looking at the history of the company (sales trends, data, etc.) to help make the best decisions for the future—everything from sales projections to content direction, brainstorming new products to planning exclusive sales and promotions and everything in between. I'm always thinking about you—our Cultivators—and how we can better equip you to grow good things. On a more personal note, I've also enjoyed using each of our products intentionally, and I'm loving how they're helping me make what matters most happen in my life. Long story short: I'm having a lot of fun and rejoicing in the opportunity to live a more intentional life alongside our team and our community!

What else will you be doing in the coming months? This question makes my heart beat faster with excitement! Let's just say, our mighty team has a lot of exciting things in store for you this year, including this exclusive opportunity to wear a pep talk every day (now through September 10th)! We're currently working with lots of heart and diligence to launch our 2019 PowerSheets Collection on October 24th. And, since we really love to delight our Cultivators, we're also launching a brand new product later in the year that we cannot wait to get in your hands!

Tell us how you joined the team in a few sentences: This story is my favorite! A sweet friend, Stacy, from my hometown of Amarillo, Texas and I had recently reconnected in the city we were currently both living in. Long story short, this friend's little sister (Cindy, who is a big fan of Cultivate!) sent her a link the Marketing Director job description with hopes her sister would bite. Since Stacy had no plans to uproot her life in Texas, she passed the link along to me knowing that I was moving to Chapel Hill the following month. And the rest, well, is history! I felt the hand of the Lord throughout the whole interview process, and boy am I grateful to be part of Cultivate.

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The three J's in our Cultivate Content Pod :)

Hometown and where you live now: I'm from the friendly town of Amarillo, Texas, and I currently reside in Durham, NC with my husband, Jack, our one-year-old, and our two goldendoodles. A fun fact: my parents both grew up near Charlotte, NC and met at UNC-Chapel Hill, so I don't feel that out of place here.

Birthday: April 20

Something others might not know about Julie: I rented a baby lamb for my bridal portraits.

Favorite part about being on the team: Our team is perpetually focused on helping women live more intentional lives. The best part? We're in the thick of it right there with you, living it out. There's something so special about connecting with each of you and helping you navigate the meaningful. It's an honor and joy.

What's your favorite Cultivate Shop product? It's a tie–I don't think I could ever choose between PowerSheets and our Write the Word Journals! I also have a Write the Word Kids on Jack's bookshelf... now to just teach his one-year-old self how to read and color.

Friends, please help us give Julie a big CWM welcome in the comments below! You can also say hi and get to know her on Instagram!

Photos by Traci Huffman.

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Cultivate Your Closet in Seven Steps

One of my 2018 PowerSheets goals is to live a simplified life, and I've slowly been translating that into different aspects of my life. More recently? My wardrobe! If I had to guess, I've had some iteration of cleaning out my closet on my Tending List at least five times over the past three years, but I'm embracing our motto of "little by little progress"!

Based on some conversations in the PowerSheets Facebook group, I know I'm not alone! Today, I'm sharing seven tips that have been helpful for me as I've tackled cultivating my closet over the past few months (number three is a game-changer!), and I hope these are helpful for those of you who share a similar goal!

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Know your lifestyle. Before you can start cleaning out your closet, it's important to define what types of clothing you need. Caroline Joy of Unfancy offers a free printable wardrobe planner that serves as a great starting step for identifying what is and isn't working in your current wardrobe. My favorite part? She encourages you to make a pie chart evaluating how you spend your time and what activities you dress for on a daily basis. For example, my closet has quite a few business casual clothes from previous jobs, but the occasions to wear them now are few and far between. Putting this work in on the front end helps you identify trends, see holes in your closet, and think holistically about your clothing.

Establish purging guidelines. We know everyone's season of life is different, so instead of giving you specific questions or rules to ask as you go through your categories, we encourage you to set guidelines for what works best for YOU. Need a few ideas for questions to ask yourself? Here's a list you can pull from:

  • Does this fit me?
  • Have I worn this item in the last six months?
  • Is this item the best version of itself? (Does it need to be tailored? Is it worn out?)
  • Can I wear this with three other things in my closet?
  • Would I buy this now?
  • Do I already own a better version of this piece of clothing?
  • Does the care for this item fit my lifestyle?
  • How do I feel when I wear this?

Break it down. We've all had that throw-your-hands-in-the-air moment when cleaning out your closet. You know the moment I'm talking about? Every item of clothing you own is laying on your bed, and you're overwhelmed and just want to give up? Want to know how to prevent that paralysis from happening again? Break your closet sorting down into categories! Instead of saying you're going to clean out your entire closet in one weekend, break down the items you want to sort through and go category by category. It's a lot easier to tackle them in smaller chunks of time, and you'll stay motivated. Here's my current list: activewear, pajamas, swimsuits, undergarments, dresses and skirts, tops, bottoms, shoes, jewelry, and accessories. I downloaded a Goal Progress Wildcard Page, and I'm working through each section little by little! Another piece of advice? Start with the easiest categories first!

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Evaluate each piece of clothing. Using the guidelines you decided on above, go through each article of clothing one-by-one. A piece of advice from Marie Kondo's best-selling book is to pick up each piece of clothing you evaluate. I love how it slows down the process and forces you to focus on only the item in your hand. As you evaluate each item, add it to the right pile: Keep, Donate/Sell, Repair.

Follow through. Choose a date to drop off your donations, put the box in your car, and mark it in your planner or calendar. The longer you let your donate pile sit around your house, the more likely you are to second guess whether or not you should keep something in it! If there are clothes you're hoping to sell on Poshmark or a Buy/Sell/Trade group, go ahead and list those items right away. Decide on a "sell by" date, and if anything hasn't sold by then, make a plan to donate the remaining items.

Find a place for everything. Once you've decided on what's staying in your cultivated closet, find a home for it. Create a system that works for you! As you do this, fight the urge to rush out and buy brand new storage baskets, containers, or bins. If you need a way to corral your winter accessories, shop your house and use what you have first. You'll get a better sense of where you like things to be stored and what you might need, without being left with 17 storage containers.

Evaluate incoming purchases. This one is vital to maintaining a cultivated closet, and it's different for each person. Decide on a system for new purchases, and plan to stick to it! For some people with more limited space, it might make sense to implement a "one in, one out" rule where you donate an article of clothing for each new piece you bring home. For others, you may give yourself a buffer of a time period to avoid impulse purchases. One thing that works for me is keeping a Note on my iPhone of my perceived holes in my closet. Now, anytime I'm out shopping and see something I like, I can pull up my list and see if it fills a hole in my wardrobe. If the answer is no, then I'll pass!

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Speaking of incoming purchases, I can't pass up the opportunity to tell you about two articles of clothing in my wardrobe that get worn frequently! Seriously, these spend more time in the dirty hamper waiting to be washed and re-worn than they do in my dresser drawers! Exclusive Cultivate Apparel is available for preorder now through September 10th. You asked for them, and we're thrilled to give you a chance to own our Growing What Matters Tee (available in two colors) and Little By Little Pullover. Preorders will shop the week of October 8th, arriving just in time for our 2019 PowerSheets Collection launch on October 24th!

We'd love to hear from you! Have you conquered your closet and cultivated your wardrobe yet? Is this one of your PowerSheets goals? Leave your best tips and tricks below!

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