Explore the journey from traditional career success to finding personal fulfillment in life.
Ever felt directionless despite appearing successful to the world? That’s 2023 for me… and now I’m challenging long-held beliefs around productivity and success. I share how I’ve managed to outgrow my need for external validation and SMART goals, and how I’m currently redefining my perception of what success should look like.
If you’ve ever felt lost, struggling with where your life is heading, I offer two crucial questions that might just illuminate your path. I emphasize the importance of defining our own metrics of success, liberating you from the confining process of goal setting.
If this one resonates with you, I encourage you to share your thoughts, questions, or even doubts - don’t hesitate to connect!
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You're listening to Stand Tall and Own it, the podcast for high performing female leaders who are ready to make an impact by discovering the safety that comes from understanding their own value and exercising their own authority. I'm your host, andrea Johnson, and I'm here to tell you it is time to just truly be you, my strong friend. It's time to Stand Tall and Own it. Hey there, welcome back to another episode of Stand Tall and Own it. I'm your host, andrea Johnson, and I have a confession to make. I struggled for the entire first half of 2023 to find direction or to have purpose. Now, this is not how people usually see me. I'm a transformational leadership coach. I teach other people how to achieve things. As a matter of fact, I get on podcast interviews and people will say you just seem so put together. The very first day I met my husband, I said to him that I was a little like Mary Poppins. I said you know, I'm practically perfect in every way. Years later, he confessed that he really believed me and I thought, golly, I am really good at fooling people. But I want to confess to you this year that my struggle has been very, very real. Now you've watched me go through, if you've been with me since the beginning of the year. You've watched me go through a little bit of a transformation, but I have not set one goal for this year. I have no goals for 2023. I have no vision board. I even ran a vision board workshop and I have no vision board, and I'll show you that in just a second. And I've even ended some long term commitments that I never thought I would end, that I thought were the perfect expression of my business and exactly who I was. But let me prove this to you If you're not watching the video of this, what I'm holding up is my planner that has my vision board pages on it, and they're entirely blank. Now, last year I should have pulled out both planners. I could show you last year's planner was full on the vision board pages. It was just crammed full of stuff, right? The next two pages are my goals pages and if you can't see this, if you're not looking at video, they're only half filled in. And here's the thing Half the stuff is stuff I've already done or I'm required to do. For instance, it says things like I'm going to pay quarterly estimated taxes. Now, I'm a business owner and I have an LLC. I'm required to pay estimated quarterly taxes or else I pay a penalty at the end of the year, which I did last year. So what I did was I put things on here that I knew I had to do, or I'd actually already done them, and now I'm calling them goals. And I did this for years in corporate when I was doing performance reviews for my staff. It's just notorious in many big systems, especially university systems, that your performance reviews run about six months on a six month lag, and so we would meet in July to talk about the year that ended back in December, and so, setting goals, they would all tremble. I would just remind them every year look, you've already done something in the first six months of this year, right, let's just write all those things down and then we will put those in as goals that you've already met, and then you only have to plan six months. Now, these were all goals that were growth oriented and that would benefit the organization and benefit themselves, but still it was like lazy, you know. It's like what did you already do? Let's write that down as a goal and it's already completed. Well, that's what I've done this year. Now it is important for me to confess these things, because you need to know that there are different ways of doing things and you need to know who you're listening to. And I want to be as authentic as possible and I want you to know that I've changed the way I measure success. So I currently acknowledge the title of being a transformational leadership coach, but for years, all the way through my corporate career and even a little bit post-corporate maybe the first year or so after corporate I was all about productivity, efficiency, systems, goals and when 2023 rolled around, I just didn't want to do it. I didn't want to set any smart goals. I didn't want to set any revenue goals. I had no vision. I just felt like I was on more of a journey than heading for a destination. Deep down, I knew somehow this year was going to be different. I just didn't know how. Is it going to be a breakout year? I don't know, but one by one, the standards by which I was measuring my success revenue numbers, clients, goals met, how hard I pushed myself they all just seemed to become irrelevant. And I've been hanging on to these remnants from my corporate career that told me how I was supposed to measure my success and I just didn't want to hang on to them anymore. Finally, one week I guess it was probably the first week of June, because that's when we met in my small group coaching program called the Beach. Oddly enough, this meeting that we had the first week of each month was called the Goals Meeting I realized that I needed to own up to the fact that this form of success just measuring it this way and these metrics just wasn't going to work any longer, which is weird and hard, because this was the whole premise of the group. I marketed this group as a goal setting group with gentle, accountability and encouragement and building community. And you know what? Nearly every single person on that call acknowledged and admitted to some form of discouragement over either unmet goals or rolling them over from month to month, which is exactly what I was doing. So I'm a pretty good coach. You know what I did? I just started asking questions. I said so why are you keeping that goal on your list? And I started asking myself why am I keeping this goal on my list? Is there a standard I'm trying to meet? What is it? What expectations am I trying to live up to? Are they mine? And then one of our dear friends in the group who is a fellow coach, lee McCraw Levitt, shared that it just turned out that June was a good month for her to set intentions rather than goals. Now we were working in a jam board, which is a great product, but Google's just informed me that they're discontinuing it at the end of 2024. So I guess I have a year and a half to change what I do. But all of a sudden our jam board began to change. We were using sticky notes to put our goals up there and they all started to reflect a little bit less of a concrete aspiration. My intentions for the month went from goals of specific downloads on a podcast, or revenue numbers or new client signings or specific numbers of workouts completed or pounds lost to are you ready for this? Create, learn, rebrand. And I wasn't alone In that group. There was this collective sigh, shoulders, undensing and relaxation. For the next three months. We actually called, even though these meetings were still called goals meetings. We called them our intentions meeting. We asked each other what intentions are you setting? And I say the next three months because at the end of September that group program completely closed down. It started out as a safe place to develop ideas and to kind of explore what we wanted to do, to set and achieve goals and to even grow past that need for external validation. My ultimate vision for the beach two and a half years ago was to create a safe harbor. The idea was that you could come in and learn and then we would encourage each other and it was a place where we could just try anything right, just whatever goals we wanted to try and accomplish. And then you go out from the harbor and come back with a newer, bigger boat and eventually we were going to need a bigger harbor for bigger ships. The reality is we outgrew that, probably back in December of 22. It just took me longer than I realized to just completely let go of that mindset, those metrics of success, those smart goals, and that's all. Part of my struggle is I didn't want to let go of what was familiar in order to grasp what was next. So here I am it's October. What have I learned? Where do I stand? Do I have any goals yet? No, not really. But I have some good wisdom. And here's the thing this whole entire process has completely challenged my conditioning of what it means to be productive and successful. And this conditioning is everywhere and it's in our language, it's in the way we do our work. I am two years into self employment and I still have people ask me how's your job? Now I'm learning to respond to that with grace and kindness because that is the definition of work that they understand. And there are some pockets of our culture where entrepreneurship and doing something outside of the normal like I'm going to produce a widget it those things actually are celebrated and understood. But in most of our society that's just not the way it works. We're conditioned to have a certain metric of success. So part of that struggle and part of that that conditioning and that struggle against that conditioning was rewriting my own definition of what success means and reprogramming my own conditioning in this area. If you go back a couple of episodes, if you haven't listened to my explanation of what it means to kind of walk through your assumptions, your beliefs and your conditioning, you might want to stop here, go back and listen to that, because it's very important that you understand what I mean by conditioning, because it's work that will never be finished. It's work that I'm not done with and I'm ready to give you advice, but I'm ready to say let's walk this road together and talk about what it looks like. So you know that if I'm going to give you advice, the first thing I'm gonna do is have you ask yourself a couple of questions. So here are some two questions, I think what I write down, two questions that you need to ask yourself if you are feeling the same kind of frustration with direction and purpose on setting goals for the year. Cause you know, one of the reasons we kind of shut down is people are like I don't know that I need to set goals. I might just need to be outside of that goal making and goal process, goal setting process for right now, totally fine, which is kind of where I found myself. But another thing was we don't need to be in that measuring of success metrics the same way that we were. So if you're struggling, ask yourself these questions. Number one what goals do you keep rolling over month to month, like month after month after month, and why, right, I continue to have like a specific revenue goal that I was just literally copying and pasting, copying and pasting into my goal sheet? Why Is that a revenue goal that really matters to me? Is it something that is really going to make a difference? Is losing that last 10 pounds really the thing that I wanna do, when right now it's very difficult for me and, just gonna be honest and transparent, it's really difficult for me to do more than just exercise. Like measuring the amount of food I eat right now is just very hard. I wanna be healthy and I wanna make sure I get it at the right amount of protein and all that kind of thing, but I don't know that I need to measure that. Why does that keep rolling over month to month? Maybe you need to admit to yourself that these are metrics that aren't yours. These are metrics that you can't measure success by because they don't mean anything to you. So that's the first question Are there goals that are rolling over month to month, and why? Okay, number two are your own success metrics governed by your assumptions, your beliefs or your conditioning? I just said that my success metrics were governed by conditioning and probably some beliefs in there, but mostly by conditioning, and I'm gonna bet that yours might be as well. So that's where you can understand the work that needs to happen and where you kinda need to look at what needs to be changed. So once you ask yourself those questions, then I have four things for you to do. Next, the very first thing you need to do is decide that you are gonna develop your own metrics for success. Your metrics are gonna look different from mine. Mine are gonna look different from my husband's. How is it different? How are yours different from what the rest of the world aspires to, right? So, if you are in the corporate world, you might say that you're, and you might say my definition of success and my metrics of success are that I have a ability to be on a team where someone else is in charge, like there's. I'm in a situation like a small business or even a large corporation, where there's very clear guidelines, very clear goals set for the end of the year, and I am on a team that actually makes those happen. My bills are paid, my insurance is paid, I have benefits, I have camaraderie, I'm on a team, but then I get to leave all that at the office and I get to come home and have a family life. Maybe, on the other hand, you're somebody who says you know, none of that matters to me. I want to be able to work 20 hours a week, have time for my family or my kids or to travel, and I need the amount of money in my 20 hours a week that's gonna pay. If you're in a partnership situation, maybe it's to pay your groceries and your utilities and give you your vacation money, right? Very different metrics of success. So you need to define and develop your own metrics of success. So what do they look like? Take a minute, write them down. Number two instead of setting your goals, set your intentions and then act on them. This is straight from my friend, lee McCraw-Levitt. You see, we all felt in that June meeting the discouragement that came from goals that were unmet. So sometimes goals can be very intimidating, right? Why would I sit down with my staff for years in my corporate work and they would be very intimidated by just to come up with goals for the next year? And I didn't understand why? Because I realized I probably was never setting real goals. I was probably always setting intentions because that's just not the way I'm measured or the way I'm wired. But intentions involve making a decision and then taking some action. They don't involve a result. They may not involve an end line or a goal line. They might just involve a journey. Like I said, I felt like 2023 was more of a journey and less of a destination. The other thing about intentions is that they are usually ongoing and they can be changed. So set your intentions rather than goals. Develop your own metrics. And number three, if you must set goals, or if that's kind of a language that really works for you and it doesn't discourage you when they're not met, try to make them more inspirational and aspirational rather than result oriented. I mentioned SMART goals a little while ago. That's what we always used in the corporate or university setting and there's a reason for them and they're actually really good when you're working in project management or you're trying to meet the metrics of an organization for, maybe, sales goals or production goals. But when you try to do those in your personal life, with personal growth or with even your own business, a lot of times they can be discouraging and that's where we were all landing as a group. It's like throw out the SMART goals, let's do something else. Brendan Burchard has an acronym that he uses and I'm not gonna share all that with you, but the first couple of pieces of it very much resonate with me and with what it means to set inspirational or aspirational goals. He calls them the very first two things. He says they're dream driven, and that goes back to what does your imagination say? You might be able to do so if you have a dream for something, set your intention toward that dream, or they're uplifting and positive, you know. That's why sometimes it's hard for us to set a goal for losing weight and it's easier to set a goal for becoming healthy or becoming a healthy weight, because it's not positive, it's actually a negative, so the result might need to be a little bit more intangible. What did mine turn out to be in June? Learn, create. And they were goals of like content creation or creating a new program or something. But and yes, they had like, some of them had some tangible results. But the main intention was that I was going to learn that month and I was gonna create some things that month. So first, don't forget, develop your own metrics, set your intentions rather than goals. But if you have to set goals, make them inspirational and aspirational. And number four, accept you are going to need to let go of familiar things in order to grasp the next thing. This is where we're coming out of our comfort zone, right, this is where you step into something new and different. I had to let go because you can look back on my year now from October and look back, you can see I had to let go of my old podcast format, my old podcast name. I had to let go of specific revenue goals, no longer cutting and pasting that goal from month to month. I had to let go of even setting goals because I had to, like, give myself the grace to say I'm on a journey rather than heading for a destination. And I even had to let go of my kind of signature program. I had to let go of the beach. I had to let go of that whole example or metaphor of how I was going to do business and what my business stood for. So, welcome to my struggle of 2023,. Right, this is the struggle of learning how I'm going to lean in better to my own strengths and determine and understand my own definition of success. But it's also my struggle to grasp new things that we're going to meet my needs and my client's needs. And here's the interesting thing Oddly enough, 2023 is turning out to be the year in which not only do I have my greatest struggle, but I have my highest revenues. I have my highest revenue month over month. I have my greatest satisfaction in both my clients and the work that I do, and in just not being frustrated with the work that I'm doing. So it's my greatest satisfaction year, but it's also my greatest variety of work. I'm doing more variety than I've ever done, which, for somebody like me, really means a lot. So success and my metrics of success just made me be defining themselves rather than me defining it. So now I'm curious to hear from you. Have you had the same, similar struggle? Do you have a hard time setting goals? Or just was 23 weird? I've heard from a lot of entrepreneurs out there and a lot of people in the corporate world that 2023 was just strange so far, and are you like heading into the last quarter of the year thinking I've not accomplished anything? And when someone asks you to set goals, does your stomach turn into a bowl of spaghetti? Understanding you, your core values, how you communicate, the needs that you have this is all the information that you need to help you define your own metrics of success, so I'd love to hear from you. How is this resonating? You can DM me on social media, email me at Andrea at theintentionaloptimuscom or, when you get the newsletter, that will outline these for you, just hit reply. Now, if you're not yet on my newsletter, you need to get on there. You need to just hit that link in the show notes and get yourself on the newsletter, because I actually outline all the stuff in written form for you in the newsletter every week, so you can take it and kind of mull it over and then hit reply and tell me what you need and tell me what you think. So, if this is you, this is your opportunity to stop that madness and set your own metrics of success because, my friend, it is 100% time to stand tall and own it.