131: Three Ways to Set Smarter Goals in the New Year with Bjork Ostrom

Welcome to episode 131 of the Food Blogger Pro podcast! This week on the podcast, Bjork talks about setting goals for the new year.

Last week on the podcast, Bjork interviewed Jenny Melrose about making the transition to being an entrepreneur, connecting with brands online, and using a website that helps you price your sponsored content. To go back and listen to that episode, click here.

Three Ways to Set Smarter Goals in the New Year

Have you ever set a goal for the new year and not followed through? We’ve all been there.

Bjork is here to help you with three mental frameworks that will help you make smarter goals and keep you motivated in the new year. Between understanding why you’re setting a specific goal to why it’s important to practice gratitude, this episode will help you strategically and intentionally create goals to help you and your business grow.

In this episode, Bjork shares:

  • What SMART goals are
  • Why it’s important to understand why you’re setting a specific goal
  • Why gratitude is so important

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Bjork Ostrom: Hi there. It’s Bjork here. This is a little bit of a different podcast. Usually, I do interviews on these podcasts, but every once in a while I jump on and do a solo podcast, so it’s going to sound and look a little bit different than a normal Food Blogger Pro podcast would, but I think that it will be just right for what we need to do at this time of the year, which is the time of the year that we start to think about 2018.

The calendar is resetting, and we’re setting goals, and we’re thinking about New Year’s resolutions and the things that we want to accomplish. I wanted to speak to that a little bit in this podcast and have a chance to share, actually, three different thoughts that I have around goals and resolutions. These are things that, personally, I’ve been thinking about that I want to share with you so you can have them as kind of mental frameworks or filters that you use as you think about what you want your goals and resolutions to be.

I’ll say first I think it’s really important to set goals and to set resolutions that you will think about for the new year, but I also think it’s important to understand the why for those. That’s actually going to be the first thing that I’m going to talk about and the first kind of mental framework, so let’s go ahead and jump in. Things to keep in mind, simple thoughts for your goals and resolutions of 2018.

Number one, clarify your why. As you know, we’re coming to the time of year when people are setting goals and resolutions. In doing that, a common phrase that people use for their goals is this idea of SMART goals. For those of you that have never heard of a SMART goal, it stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Essentially, SMART goal says those are all of the important things for setting a goal. They have to be really specific. They have to be measurable. It has to be something you can actually achieve, and it’s realistic, and it’s timely.

This year when I’m going to be setting my goals and thinking about the New Year’s resolutions that I have, before I spend any time thinking about whether or not it’s a SMART goal, I’m going to spend some time to make sure I understand why I’m setting that specific goal, and I would encourage you to do the same. What is the heart and soul behind your goal? That’s the idea with clarifying your why. If we ask that question, I think we’ll sometimes find that our goals don’t actually have a heart and soul. They’re just things that we set because we think that we should or we think it would be a good number like, “I want to double the amount of pages that I have on my blog.” But do you really understand the why behind that?

What I’ve found is that, oftentimes, I’m setting goals that don’t have a clear why behind it. I really believe that a soulless goal doesn’t have a why. If you don’t have a why, you’re going to have a goal that doesn’t have a heart and a soul. One of my biggest fears is that I spend valuable parts of my life pursuing goals that don’t actually have a why. I’m just pursuing them to pursue them. I might achieve them, and it might feel good for a little bit, and my business might grow, or I might become healthier, or whatever it would be, but if there’s not a clear why behind the goal, then it doesn’t really matter. We can look at an example.

Like I said, I often hear people talk about goals as it relates to their business because that’s what we do on this podcast and on Food Blogger Pro. We talk about that, specifically, with food and recipe blogs. A goal that, oftentimes, people have is they’ll say, “Hey, I want to set a goal of reaching a certain income level.” They might want to get their business to a point where, let’s say, it’s making $1,000 a month, or it could be any number, 2,000, or a point where it’s replacing their full-time income. The goal, specifically, might look like this. It might be, “My goal is to increase my blog’s earnings to 2,000 a month by December 2018.” Right? That’s a pretty smart goal. It has all of those different characteristics that you’d need. There’s a deadline. There’s a number. It’s realistic. It’s achievable. It’s all those things.

If that was my goal, before I write that down and move on to my next goal for 2018, I would say it’s important for me to take time to truly clarify why that goal is so important, because understanding the why of a goal might help to inform what the actual goal is. For instance, the why in that situation might be that I want to make enough to justify leaving my current job, which I don’t like because the hours are super long, and the work isn’t enjoyable, and I don’t really like my coworkers. I’m just making this up. This isn’t an actual example. This would be not an unlikely scenario for a lot of people that we talk to or that I hear from. That might be one of their goals.

Here’s the thing. There are lots of ways to address the issue of a job that you don’t enjoy, or working hours that you don’t like, or something like that. Building your blog to a point where it’s sustainable or building a business is just one of those ways that you could do it. There’s lot of different ways you could address that problem. You could look for a different job. You could look to change departments. You could freelance instead of work for a company. All of those things help address the root issue of the problem that the goal is trying to address.

A goal, essentially, is a path from Point A to Point B, and clarifying your why allows you to really understand what Point A is and why you want to move on from it or move away from it. Point B doesn’t always have to look the same. Once you fully understand what Point A is, and where it is, and why you want to move away from it, then you can look around and see all of the different paths that exist to help you move away from that point, to help you evolve, to help you take that first step.

The thing is, a goal is just one path. Before you start to walk down that path, make sure that you fully understand why you’re wanting to move away or why you’re wanting to move forward from where you currently are and think about the other options that exist to help you move forward. Oftentimes, I would say in almost every scenario, the first goal that you think of to get you from Point A to Point B isn’t the shortest path. There are other paths that exist that you can start walking on sooner than you realized and, a lot of times, those paths are going to be shorter.

Now, the example of the blog income and getting to a certain income level, that’s just one example. This idea can be applied to any type of goal that you’re setting, and so as you’re thinking about your goals in 2018 and the things that you’d like to achieve, think first about the why for those. Then, once you truly understand the why, think about the multiple different paths that might help you address that why, that might help you solve that problem.

Once you have done some brainstorming, let’s say you have a list of 10 different ways that you could solve that, look at that list and say, “What are the things on this list that I would most enjoy doing and that will help me start walking forward on this path as soon as possible?” Start that journey as quickly as you can because, so often, we will think of a goal, and we’ll set that goal, and we’ll start to work against that goal, and while that might be a good goal to achieve, oftentimes it’s going to not be the quickest way to get there or not be the most efficient way to get there, or it might be addressing the basic problem that we’re running into, but it’s not going to bring us to the best next step. It’s not going to bring us to the best Point B.

My point, my overall hope for this first one of clarifying the why is, before you set down that goal or before you write it down, take time to understand why you’re writing down that goal and what’s at the heart and souls of that why. That will help you understand the different goals that you can create that will help you address that. Oftentimes, the goal is just kind of a symptom of the problem that we’re trying to address, and there’s lots of different ways that we can go out and set those goals and apply those to the work that we’re doing.

Number two, gratitude in all things. This is a really important one for me and one that, when I get into the rhythms of gratitude, I’m extremely grateful. Could I say that? I’m extremely thankful because it informs the work that I do in such a real way. I think, to be honest, I feel like gratitude is one of the best productivity tips of all time, right? You read a lot about how different apps can help you save time, or if you brush your teeth with your eyes closed you’re able to do it 10% more efficiently, which isn’t actually true, but that would be awesome if it was. There’s very ground-level productivity hacks and tips and tricks, but what I’ve found is that gratitude is one of the best productivity tips of all time because one of the biggest issues with productivity, or getting things done, or whatever you want to call it, is the actual resistance to doing the thing.

You can have all of tools and tips and tricks you want, but if you feel resistance towards doing whatever it is that you want to get done, it’s going to be really hard to get that done. But one of the greatest ways to overcome resistance is to fall in love with that thing. You can imagine the things that you love doing and how easy it is to do those when you have free time, and there’s countless examples of what that might be. But when you have free time, if you love to do something, you’re going to find yourself doing that thing. If you don’t love to do something, you’re not going to be as drawn to that.

The problem is, oftentimes, when we have goals or ambitions, it also involves doing some of the things that we’re not crazy about. Especially in the early stages if you’re building a blog or you’re building a business, there’s going to be things that you can’t necessarily outsource or delegate. There’s going to be things that are difficult to do that need to get done, and you’re going to feel resistance to doing those things, but if you can have a mindset of gratitude, then you’re going to be able to appreciate those things in a different way, which makes it easier to get those things done.

I want to make sure that, for this, you understand I’m not talking about some sort of silly gratitude where you’re like, “Oh, I love doing taxes, and this is … I am a tax enthusiast.” It’s not pretending to like something you don’t actually like, but it’s helping to wrap that thing in things that you actually truly are grateful for. These can be really simple, basic things. I thought of a few, and these are things that I think about as I’m working through a certain task that I, maybe, am not drawn to, but then I wrap it around with things that I am grateful for, and that helps me appreciate the task a little bit more.

An example would be if I’m having to write something up. My natural draw is to speak into a microphone like this. It’s not to write something. I feel resistance when there is something that requires me to write a long post or something like that. I’m able to do that a little bit easier when I lean into some of the gratitudes of that. For instance, this is a little bit of a tech gratitude, but the feeling of the keyboard as I type. I think about that as I’m writing, and that allows me to enjoy that a little bit more and to fall in love with that process, or the sound of my favorite song in the background as I’m working.

For me, we live in Minnesota, which this time of the year is very cold, and so I think about how nice it is to be in a room that’s really warm and how cozy that is, and I lean into the hygge? I don’t know what it is. For those of you that know, it’s the idea of intentional pursuit of cozy times. We’ll link to a Wikipedia article or something like that in the show notes for those that aren’t familiar with that, because that’s a great concept. It’s very Minnesota to have a cup of hot coffee, or hot tea, or hot cocoa, and a candle, and just to snuggle and to lean into that, and so I think about that as I work.

I also think about my ability to put words together and communicate those to people, and how grateful I am to be able to do that, and what a privilege it is to be able to communicate with other people and to have people, for instance, listen to this podcast. That’s such a gift, and I’m so grateful for that. Or I think about how good it feels to be challenged and to be presented with a situation where I have to find a good solution, and so being grateful for the challenge of work and knowing that, if I didn’t have that, I’d be extremely bored, and to be appreciative of the work that I have and to be grateful for it.

All of these are really simple gratitudes. They’re not anything over-the-top, and it’s not like, “I’m really grateful for this huge success moment that I had last week.” It’s really simple things, but it allows me to wrap those in the work that I otherwise would feel resistance to, and I can associate those with that work. Especially if it’s important work that you sometimes procrastinate on, then it’ll allow you to start to change your view of that work, which is so important because if your view of that work starts to change, if you appreciate it more, if you’re grateful for it, and it doesn’t have to necessarily be the core of that work, but it can be the things around it, then you’re not going to feel as much resistance to it, and you’ll be able to get that work done that you otherwise would feel resistance to. The work that’s easiest to get done is the work we love doing. It’s easier to love something if you’re grateful for it, and so if you’re grateful for something, then it’s going to be easier to get it done. Finding ways to be grateful in all things is one of the best ways to fully engage with your work on a daily basis.

As I think about 2018 and some of the goals that I want to set and some of the things that I want to look forward to achieving, I know that, within that, there’s going to be some things that are difficult to do. But if I can have this mindset of gratitude as it relates to those things, it allows me to lean into that, and to enjoy it, and to look forward to it in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise be able to if the only thing that I saw with that was just the thing that I’m resistant to or the thing that I have resistance towards. But wrapping that in gratitude and surrounding that with gratitude allows me to do that piece of work a little bit easier and to not feel as much resistance to it.

The last thing that I wanted to talk about, this is going to be short and it’s going to be simple because I don’t think it needs to be … I think it can live on its own, and I think it’s, potentially, one of the most impactful things that you’ll hear in this podcast. So number three, the mindset that I have in 2018 that I want to pass on to you is that it’s possible. Your dream, your goal, your resolution, whatever you want to call it, it’s possible. That’s one of the truths that I hope you internalize this year. As you think about the things that you want to achieve and the things that are most important to you, the thing you’re most interested in doing is possible, and it’s possible for you to figure out how to make it happen. It probably won’t be easy, and it will take a commitment of time and energy, but it’s entirely 100%, without a doubt, possible, and you can make it happen, which I think is a good note to end on.

Just to review, the things that I’m going to be thinking about and I would encourage you to think about as you move into 2018 is to clarify your why, to really understand why you’re doing something and to not just set a goal to set a goal, but to set a goal that has a really clear why behind it. Number two, to find gratitude in all things, including the things that you feel resistance towards and, maybe most importantly, those things that you feel resistance towards, to find those gratitudes within that thing that allows you to fully engage in that and to not procrastinate on the things that are most easy to procrastinate on, especially if it’s an important thing for you to be doing. Number three, it’s possible, and it’s possible for you to do whatever it is that you have in mind as your goal, your dream, your resolution. It’s possible.

We really appreciate you. This podcast has been going now for almost two and a half years. We started in 2015, and we’re coming up to our second official full year. We’re putting a close on 2017, and it’s an incredible thing to be able to do this and to connect with you wherever you are around the world. We are humbled and honored. Know that you encourage us in ways that you don’t know, whether it’s through just downloading, or sending an email, or leaving a comment, whatever it would be. We see those, and we appreciate those, and it means a lot, both for me and Lindsay, and we give Sage an ear scratch as well whenever you mention her. I’m looking forward to 2018 and to continuing to stay connected with you as we move into the new year.

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