Cultivating Habits in a Season of Transition

Cultivating Habits in a Season of Transition

by: Emily Thomas

One of the most consistent questions we get in the Cultivate inbox is how to make progress on goals in a season of transition. Whether it's a welcome change that's brought about the season—pregnancy, marriage, an anticipated new job—or one that's thrown you into a tailspin—illness, a relationship ending, the loss of a job, a move you'd rather not make, a deployment—we believe it's not only possible to keep using your PowerSheets® and setting goals in these seasons, it's crucial. But it does look a bit different than in a smooth-as-glass season! Here are a few of our best tips, many from the Cultivate community!

1. Reframe the narrative. One of the most powerful things we can do when faced with an overwhelming transition is reframe the narrative in our head. It’s simply a matter of a perspective shift to go from, “I’m moving to a new city. I have to start all over” to “I have an opportunity to start fresh and create new habits!” This is easier said than done at times, but there really is power in positive thinking! The more positive your attitude, the more energy you'll have for everything else.

2. Give yourself the gift of starting fresh. Flip back to page 23 in your prep work (or a wildcard page!) and jot down some ideas of what you're going to say yes to and no to in this specific transition. Are there things you are going to not do in the transition that you usually would? Are there things you’re going to say yes to specifically until you start to feel more settled?

3. Fill out your PowerSheets for the life you're living right now. As you go through your prep work, it's tempting to want to write down perfect answers that are true FOR ALL TIME. And that can feel impossible when you're in an acute season that's different than your "normal life." But that's not what PowerSheets are about! Your PowerSheets are for helping you make progress given your exact circumstances. Whether you're hesitating over the "Who I Really Am," the "Meet Your Fears," or the "What Fires Me Up" page, know that it is okay to just write what is true for right now, not for some ideal version of you off in the future.

From Anne in our Facebook group: "I did my prep as I felt each day. When I hit a hard spot, I'd open it up and write a fear RIGHT IN THE MOMENT! The best part, for me, is that every season and month is an update. Be where you are today. Let your goals change. Let your life unfold. Share your goals as they change in your PowerSheets."

And sometimes, it's okay to not write anything at all, as Aspen shared: "The Who I Am page is such a simple page... it should probably be the easiest page in the book. But, when you no longer have any idea who you are, it becomes an impossible page to fill out. Today, I am giving myself grace in knowing that I am going through an extremely tough transition in my life, and I am looking forward to letting the PowerSheets help me rediscover myself and show me what's most important in my life. And, when I am ready, I look forward to coming back to this page, and filling it in with ease."

4. Set goals to prepare for your transition. If you know a transition is coming, incorporate it into your goal setting! Says cultivator Lauren, "I’m getting married next year, so I’m using my PowerSheets to prepare things like: my finances, intentional time management, sacrificial living, and relational investment to get ready! I already do some of this stuff naturally, but ever since I saw PowerSheets work for me last year, I’m basically using mine to help in all of the big things in life!"

5. Lean on your quarterly refreshes. Know that instead of setting goals for the year, it might make more sense to only set 90-day goals. As your transition unfolds, use the quarterly refreshes we've built into the PowerSheets to assess where you are and what you need right now, and then set goals accordingly! Says cultivator Michelle, "I started a new job last year, and I found that the seasonal goal refreshes really helped. In January my goal was to get a job, but by summer that goal had changed to prepare for it well. I would come up with a very broad goal related to your transition and then fine-tune it as you approach each season and month and have a better sense of what's needed."

6. Use your weekly and daily goals to anchor yourself in the midst of change.  When everything feels topsy-turvy, identifying and sticking to just a few essentials is key. Maybe it's weekly meal planning, or going for a morning walk, or FaceTiming with a friend. Keep it simple and something you can be consistent in no matter what surprises are thrown your way.

From Phylicia: This is my fourth year using PowerSheets and they make it SO SIMPLE. Not easy, but simple. Each month I decide what things I want to stay consistent on daily in order to be the best mom and wife I can (because those are priority). Those become my daily habits. Then for weekly goals, I choose things that improve our quality of life and decrease stress: business to do’s that must be done regularly or I’ll be stressed, deadlines for speaking or book edits, date nights, etc. Then for monthly goals, I do big ticket items that I will break down into steps in my regular planner. These would be things like “finish module 1 in aromatherapy course” or “complete revisions for chapters 1-3.” I break these down into tangible tasks and put them on specific days in my planner. (I plan each week on Sundays and designate when I am going to focus on certain things, usually batching on certain days.) 

7. Make gentleness a goal. If you're checking in with your PowerSheets regularly, let them be the reminder you need to give yourself grace. Literally writing "be kind to myself" as a daily goal might be just the reminder you need! From Brittany, who's getting ready to welcome a new baby: "I also plan to use my PowerSheets to make sure I’m taking care of myself, connecting with my older child and husband, and all the other intangible things that are important during times of change."

8. Focus on your mindset. Similarly, and especially if you don't know what concrete goals to set, start with what you can control: your thoughts! Says Lynn, "We’re moving to a new state and I’m starting a new job in January! A lot of my PowerSheets goals have focused on my attitude - I want to go into my new job with a positive attitude, I want to learn, etc., since I can’t set hard, substance-specific goals yet."

9. Add goals back in gradually. Good news: you get a new Tending List every month! Ease out of a transition by adding things back in gradually. Says Mackenzie, "I'm planning on introducing new things every week, but pacing them out so I'm not overwhelmed. So adding back meal planning, then workouts, then intentional time with friends, etc. for those first three weeks!"

10. Don't forget to celebrate along the way. You are going to be living out our anthems of "little by little" and "it's okay to grow slow" even more than usual. Even tiny progress adds up if you stop to notice it! So, be intentional about celebrating even the smallest wins, even if that just means putting an extra-emphatic check mark in your Tending List :)

Most of all, give yourself grace. Your PowerSheets aren't a success if every goal is checked off; your PowerSheets are a success if they help you do those things that really matter to you. Give them the chance to help you in your season of transition and they will deliver!

And while you're at it, join the PowerSheets Facebook group - as you can see from this post, our community is full of wisdom!! Thanks to all of these ladies for sharing their advice and stories!!

I'd love to hear: what tips would you add for setting goals in a season of transition? Leave a comment below, and share your wisdom with us!

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Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas

Emily Thomas is Cultivate What Matters' Content Strategist and Writer. With over a decade at Cultivate, Emily loves helping women uncover what matters, set good goals, and live them out with joy. Her free time is spent with her high-school-sweetheart husband and three young kiddos.

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