Goal Setting

Why Every Struggle You Overcome Is A Gift

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My family’s fate weighed heavily on my shoulders. Everything I knew - my identity, my values, my ideals for the future - crashed down around me.

I was working three jobs and charging my credit cards just to keep food on the table for my daughter and I.

I wanted a way out, I wanted something - anything - to hold onto. I wanted to catch my breath because I was suffocating from the disaster that was my life.

Then, I got an acceptance letter to the Master's degree of my choice. 

But there was a big part of me that was afraid of my good fortune.

Now, I was in a position to study with some of the best and brightest professors in the country. The other students in my cohort had already done work with some amazing companies. Many of them were coming straight from college and were 5 years younger than me.

I couldn't escape the feeling that I wouldn't fit in.

I wouldn't be smart enough.

At my age (which I thought was soooo old) I should have a great career already, right?

And I had a few more struggles than the average college student.


I AM A PARENT

I had my daughter at 19. Here is what that means:

  • I don’t have many friends that are my age who have kids.

  • I’m usually the youngest parent in the room at school functions.

  • I often need help from family and friends

I grew up hearing that having a child when you are a teenager is a kiss of death. In my head, I was already a “statistic” and would very likely struggle to make something out of my life.

And I struggled without a doubt.

My daughter accompanied me through my early twenties and going forward. Together we went on a journey of self-discovery. From undergraduate school to graduate school and from unemployable babysitter to gainfully employed data analyst.

I DIDN’T HAVE A BACKGROUND IN MATH

When I entered my graduate program, I learned that the degree I was seeking had way more math than I was anticipating. The professors would zoom through advanced statistics concepts and excel formulas so fast it that made my head spin.

I was lost. And it was obvious.

So I started to make friends with fellow students who breezed through class.

I NEVER HAD A FANCY JOB

I met several students in grad school who were much younger than I was, and they would boast about working for Fortune 500 companies and their fancy job titles. I, on the other hand, was a babysitter, a waitress and a freelancer. #awkward

When people would ask me “what do you do?“ I would instantly shrink on the inside and immediately froze up while trying to squeak out a job title that didn’t make me sound like a #loser.

I went to grad school so paranoid that no employer would ever want me because my competition was so much smarter and so much more marketable than I was.

So….. I worked harder. I showed up early to career services and stayed late. I did extra mock interviews and got my presentation polished to perfection by working with several on-campus recruiters. I volunteered for consulting programs and I did additional research projects.

Related Content: How to Make sure Grad School is Worth your Time & Money

Looking back, I realize that everything I was able to accomplish was because of my weaknesses:

  1. As a young parent, my daughter helped keep me focused and grounded through school.

  2. Not understanding math (and being honest about it) helped me build connections with other people who had different strengths - and it helped me learn what my strengths were.

  3. The fact that I didn’t have a fancy job motivated me to work hard in grad school to ultimately land my dream job.

The things that I thought were my downfalls, were actually the things that lead me to success.

Every personal struggle that I had imagined would make me different in a negative way…..ended up doing the opposite.

My past made me a stronger advocate for myself, resilient in the face of tragedy, calm when everything came crashing down, and a very quick learner.

Without the struggles that I overcame, I would never have built the mental tools necessary to overcome extreme difficulty. I wouldn't be typing this from my desk at my dream company. I wouldn't have a message to share with the world. I wouldn’t have a road map to my personal success to inspire you. 

So, if you’re struggling today, or if you can remember a difficulty that you went through, take some time to appreciate that gift today.

Because the price that you paid to learn those lessons and build that resilience, will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

xoxo

Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals?

  1. Start planning out your largest goals with the FREE Goal Planning Worksheet.

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive.

  3. Do you struggle with finishing the goals you start? Get clarity on your goals and the strategies to reach them with the ebook Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.


Chantl.jpg

About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.


5 Ways Ordinary People Can Start Achieving Extraordinary Results

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my disclosure for more info.

 
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Get Crystal Clear On Your Grandest Goals

Download the FREE Goal Setting Clarity checklist and set goals that will create MIRACULOUS change in your life.

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GOALS.

I’ve always had a problem with “SMART” goals. The concept just seemed too easy, too unfinished. Like… I set a goal, but what’s next? There are millions of people who set goals every year that do not finish them. I’m sure their goals are smart.

But why aren’t they finishing?

Goals are not really the end of the journey. They’re just the destination. Once you figure out your destination, you have to figure out:

  • What you budget is for the trip

  • When you’ll make time in your schedule to take this trip.

  • Whether you’re going to get there by bus, train or plane.

  • Who is going with you

  • How long it will take

  • And as you go, you’ll likely be checking your progress with Google Maps the entire trip (Am I right?)

To truly start accomplishing your goals, you must think about the end goal as a destination. And then begin the journey, step by step, to get from where you are now to where you want to be in your life.


My Destination

I started paying off my student loan debt three years ago. I had $42,000 of total debt from my undergraduate and graduate degrees. Finally, I got my first “real job” and couldn’t even enjoy my income because I felt crushed by my student loan debt.

Related Content: How to Guarantee Grad School is Worth your Time and Money

I felt #defeated, every time I made my minimum payment and it wasn’t even enough to cover the interest on my loan. (Facepalm).

That's when I decided that I had to start aggressively paying off my student loan debt. I set the SMART goal first, but then I also had to use every tool in the goal setting garage, not just toolbox, in order to make this big dream a #reality.

Here’s how you really build the habits to accomplish your largest goals:

Start with setting measurable goals.

This means setting your goal in way that you can measure whether or not you’ve achieved it. Make sure you have an exact number associated with your goal and a date you want to complete it by.

For example, here are two ways you can set a goal to tackle your debt:

Example #1: "I'll pay off $42K of student loan debt by December 31st of this year."

Example #2:  "Take control of my debt."

The first example outlines exactly how much you want to pay and when you want to complete it.

In the second example, you're setting a vague goal that's difficult to track. How do you know when you’ve taken control of your debt? Is it when you’ve started making the minimum payments? Is it when you’re doubling the minimum? Is it when you’ve deferred that payment again to tackle your other priorities?

If you haven’t set a CLEAR goal in the beginning, it’ll be impossible to measure your success.

Set Milestones for your goals.

Since I knew I wanted to pay off $37K in my first year, I set a monthly number that I would have to pay in order to reach that goal.

$37K/12 months = $3K per month

Once I knew how much I needed to reach my goal, it was really easy to look at my budget and plan how I could make it happen. Also, I could easily track whether I was on track to reach my goal on a monthly basis.

Use a goal tracker.

I am a VERY visual person so I like to see things on paper. When you're working towards a long term goal, (like paying off a ton of debt) it can get boring and you almost start to wonder if you're actually making any progress.

I created a chart where I could color in one square for every $1000 of debt I paid off. If you like to track electronically, there are lots of good apps where you can track your progress on your phone.

Slowly, but surely, I started to fill my chart with colorful boxes. I hung it on the wall so I could see how much progress I had made and how much I still had left.

Use an accountability partner.

I had a friend that I'd call monthly to make sure I was paying my debt off in a timely manner.

We'd have a 30 minute call once a month and talk about how much debt we'd paid off, how much we had left and what the next steps would be. This helped me build the habit and keep the habit of paying off my debt, right from the beginning.

A Note on Habits

All of these goal-crushing tools help you build the right habits so that you can take the right actions every day. Your goals are the result of taking the right actions over and over again until you reach your destination.

If you can master your habits, you can reach any goal you want.

It hasn't been a short journey, but I've made great progress toward this goal over the last two years. And by the end of this year, I’m proud to be able to say I’m student loan debt free!

What will your next SMART goal be?


Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals? 

  1. Start planning out your largest goals with the FREE Goal Planning Worksheet.

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive

  3. Do you struggle with finishing the goals you start? Get clarity on your goals and the strategies to reach them with the ebook Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.

Get Crystal Clear On Your Grandest Goals

Download the FREE Goal Setting Clarity checklist and set goals that will create MIRACULOUS change in your life.

Powered by ConvertKit

Chantl.jpg

About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.

Four Ways Adults Can Create A Meaningful Social Circle

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Get Crystal Clear On Your Grandest Goals

Download the FREE Goal Setting Clarity checklist and set goals that will create MIRACULOUS change in your life.

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There is something about adulthood that makes it incredibly difficult to make new friends.

In elementary, middle and high school, you’re forced to see a particular cohort of folks a few times a week, forced to do activities and projects with them. Inevitably, some of those people you’re forced to interact with become friends.

I wasn’t always the best at making new friends. In fact, I was always the lonely-looking girl standing awkwardly by the punch bowl at every conference or event. I didn’t know what to say so usually, I said nothing.

Even when someone would come up to me (you know, after you accidentally make eye contact for 5 seconds or more) and start small talk. They’d ask me about my day and on the inside I’d start to panic.

I wanted to be the person that always said the right thing… the cool thing… the witty thing. I wanted so desperately to make a connection that I often said nothing.

Through sheer stubbornness and persistence, I kept putting myself in these awkward situations (re: punch bowl, eye contact) until they started to feel normal and I mustered up the courage to start makin’ some friends.

The followings tips come from lessons I learned on my journey and some of the best practices I’ve ever received to build deeper, more intimate relationships with other women as an adult.

Send Handwritten Notes... for any reason.

I met a young lady at a networking event and she asked to follow up with me on a call later that week. We talked about her business and what she could do to grow. At the end of the call she asked for my address. I gave it to her and completely forgot about the ask, since no one ever really sends anything in the mail.

A week later, I got a postcard thanking me for my help. I couldn't believe it! I honestly felt warm on the inside.

She immediately set herself apart from anyone else I've ever met in my entire life. To this day, we've done two partnerships and we've become great friends. 

I started to send handwritten notes to friends and family at least once a year. I notice they’re always just as surprised as I was to receive that first note.

Handwritten notes are cool because you can be authentic, personal and long-winded (if that’s your thing). It’s also a keepsake that they could hold onto for years.

Call, Don't Text

I know, no one uses the phone anymore… and that’s exactly why you should be! Instead of sending a text to check up on friends, call them up. Listen to their problems and be fully present in the activity of catching up.

When Facebook sends that daily email letting you know it's someone's birthday, call them instead of writing on their FB wall. They'll remember that phone call for the same reason that people remember a letter. Most people aren't doing it.

You can call for any reason:

  • Birthday

  • Promotion

  • Life event (wedding, family death, kid’s baseball game, etc.)

  • Invite them out for drinks/coffee/lunch/dinner/hangout session of some sort

  • Just to say hi! (gasp!)

Calls are highly underused these days. That’s why you should be using them to deepen your relationships.

Join Social Groups (where people meet in person) 

If you have a hobby, try to find groups of people that enjoy that same hobby.

When I was transitioning into analytics, I joined every meetup group on meetup.com that talked about the topic. I eventually found 2 groups that I liked and started going to the meetings every month. After about 3 weeks of seeing the same faces, I started to make friends. 

It doesn’t matter what your hobby is, there are usually people nearby that enjoy doing the same thing. When you meet up based on a common hobby, you already have things to talk about and a basis to connect on.

Meet the people you talk to online in person 

I spend a ton of time on the internet (mostly Facebook) talking to the people I meet in groups. If you're in a large group, it could be helpful to announce "Hey guys! I'm in DC, would anyone want to meet up in person for coffee?" You'd be surprised how many people say yes! 

The one common theme I think in all of these is to make an effort to get away from the digital world and talk to folks in more personal ways. The more people you talk to, the more chances you have to find and build a great circle of friends. 

Keep “putting yourself out there”

The phrase “putting yourself out there” typically means taking risks - and that’s what you’ll need to do if you want to make some real friends.

Even if you’re uncomfortable, you’ll have to start talking to people. That’s the only way they’ll get to know you and your personality.

Related Content: How to Push Yourself Out of Your Comfort Zone

You’ll have to ask them to meet up in a social setting. If you want intimate relationships, you must create a space for intimacy.

Finally, you’ll have to keep trying. Sometimes you’ll find someone you think is cool, but they decline every invitation no matter how many times you invite them out. Don’t take this personally. They could have a million reasons (that have nothing to do with you) for why they can’t hang out.

In that case, let them tell you when they’re free (which might never happen) and find someone who does have the time, interest and capacity to spend time with you… because you’re worth it.

I hope the future leads to some amazing friendships for you! (And if you're in the DC or NY area, we should totally grab a drink!) 

Ready To Accomplish Your Greatest Goals? 

  1. Start planning out your largest goals with the FREE Goal Planning Worksheet.

  2. Take a FREE personal development class on CreativeLive

  3. Do you struggle with finishing the goals you start? Get clarity on your goals and the strategies to reach them with the ebook Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams.

 

Ready To Make Your Dream Goal A Reality?

Map out your dream goals and create your action plan with this FREE one-page dream goal planning worksheet.

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About Chantl

Chantl founded Thrive Lounge to give women the kick in the pants they need (lovingly, of course) to uncomplicate their goals, stop making excuses, get productive and start living the life they always wanted. Her book, Goal Doing: Practical Advice For Goal Setting, Action Planning and Achieving Your Dreams, gives women a step-by-step guide to create, plan and achieve their grandest goals.