Posted in goal setting, lifestyle, Planning and journaling

Monday Matters: A guide to SMART goals + an example of how I’m using the framework

Last week, my blog post focused on vision boards and how you can create one in your bullet journal. As part of this, I mentioned that as well as using pictures and words to establish what you want, you also need to identify steps you can take towards achieving your goals/dreams. Today, I’m going to deep dive into SMART goals and give an example of how I’m using the framework to help me achieve success towards a specific goal of mine which features on my current vision board.

What are SMART goals?

SMART is a mnemonic acronym that can help you with both goal setting and goal getting. It stands for:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Attainable / Achievable
  • R – Relevant
  • T – Time-bound

Sounds great in theory but how can I set SMART goals?

To enable the setting of SMART goals, you need to create a detailed break down of each of your personal goals using the SMART framework. Your goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time bound.

Specific

It’s important to be clear about what exactly it is that you want to achieve. To make your goals really specific, it can help to ask yourself a few questions to identify the detail:

  • What exactly do I want to accomplish?
  • Why is this really important to me right now?
  • Who will I need to help me achieve the goal and what will their role be?
  • Where will I work on my plan to achieve my goal?
  • Which resources will I need to help me?
  • Does my goal have financial implications?
  • What will my life look like when I have achieved my goal?
  • How will achieving my goal make me feel?

Measurable

Your goals should all be measurable so that you are able to see progress and know when you have achieved success. This can increase motivation as you start to see results from your efforts. Key questions to ask yourself could be:

  • How will I know when I have achieved my goal?
  • What will success look like?
  • What’s the best way of measuring my success?

Achievable

A vision board can sometimes contain ideals and big hopes and dreams, to make these visions into goals, you need to set more achievable targets to work towards.

  • On a scale of 1-10, how likely do you think it is that you’ll achieve your goal (1 being completely unlikely and 10 being absolutely certain)?
  • Is it completely within my power to achieve the goal?
  • Is the goal realistic?
  • Are there any obstacles which may present themselves?
  • Will I be able to achieve my goal in a given timeframe?
  • Do I have the resources or financial means to work on and achieve my goal?

Relevant

Your goals should be relevant to what matters the most to you right now. They should also align with your life values and current beliefs.

  • Is this a worthwhile goal and does it meet my current needs or desires?
  • Is this goal a priority for me right now?
  • What will achieving the goal especially mean to me?
  • How does this goal fit in with my values?

Time bound

It’s best to have a specific time frame in mind for meeting your goal. Setting a deadline or a date to assess if you have made significant progress can help keep you on track to success. You should try to decide on a realistic amount of time that is neither too long or too short. If the deadline is too far in the future, you will likely lose momentum or feel no sense of urgency. If the time frame is too short, you may become overwhelmed or stressed. A good idea might be to identify mini steps and assign an achieve by date for each.

An example of how I’m using SMART goals to achieve success

In last week’s Monday Matters blog post, I shared my current vision board. In order to increase my chance of successfully meeting my goals (or vision), I’ve been applying the SMART system to really break things down. To help you see how this works, I thought I’d take just one of my goals and look at it in depth using SMART.

On my vision board, I have a picture of a hamster and the word pampered. My goal is to treat our new pet in a way that gives her everything she wants and needs. We’ve been keeping hamsters for years and each time we have a new addition to the family, I try even harder to make sure she has a good life. Obviously I can’t ask Millie if she feels like she is a pampered pet but I can put things in place to ensure she is completely spoilt and receives the best treatment I can offer. Here’s my real life example of how I’ve broken my goal down :

Specific: I want Millie to be a happy and well pampered hamster so that I can be sure I’m giving her the best life I can. It’s important to me that my pet is treated well as part of our family. Both my husband and I will play a big part in working towards and achieving my goal. We’ll use our knowledge of keeping Syrian hamsters to help us as well as learning from guidance found online from reputable sources. Meeting my goal will have financial implications but we’re happy to spend a reasonable amount of money on both her cage and accessories within. When I have achieved the goal Millie will appear happy and content with her home and should show signs that she feels safe when we get her out of her cage each evening. She should look healthy and well cared for and my husband and I will be satisfied that we are good hamster parents!

Measurable: We will measure our progress using a checklist of things which need to be in place to ensure Millie is happy and healthy.

  • Extra large cage with floor space beyond the recommended size for Syrian hamsters.
  • Cosy house which is large enough for Millie to sleep in and also has room for snacks.
  • Large wheel which adult Millie can run in without concave back.
  • Water bottle to be refilled daily and scrubbed weekly.
  • A good quality diet consisting of dry food and small quantities of fresh fruit and vegetables.
  • Treats provided in line with feeding guidelines.
  • Plenty of bedding to be provided for nesting and digging.
  • Wooden chews provided for gnawing.
  • Sand provided for bathing.
  • Digging tower provided for out of cage play.
  • Cage spot cleaned regularly with full clean once a month.
  • Eating and drinking to be monitored.
  • Weight checked weekly.
  • Dedicated time with Millie outside of the cage every evening (minimum 10 minutes)
  • Basic health check performed each time Millie is handled.
  • No signs of distress or boredom displayed e.g. biting cage bars all of the time, excessive grooming, aggression, repetitive behaviours etc.

The goal will be considered achieved when all of these are in place and standards are maintained over the time period stated below.

Achievable As we are experienced hamster owners (Millie is my ninth hammy) we have very good understanding of what Syrian hamsters need for a happy and healthy life. Therefore, the goal should be achieved in a relatively short time. We’ve already ticked off some of the criteria as we’ve purchased an extra large cage, a wooden house and digging tower. We also have plenty of dry food, treats, warm bedding and a sand bath as well as a good sized wheel. Fresh water is provided although we need to get better at changing it each day.

Relevant Obviously the goal is relevant as we have a pet hamster and we wish for her to be well cared for and pampered. This is in line with my beliefs about how animals should be treated.

Time bound At least a couple of weeks for Millie to get used to us will be required as she is currently a little bit nervous and wary of us but progress is being made each day. I will assess and evaluate the situation at the end of this month and I expect that everything will be in place by 15th April as we will have had Millie for one month by then.

Millie at 9 weeks old and a little camera shy!

The need to be even SMARTER…

Although the SMART approach does not offer any guarantees of success, it does provide a useful system to help with setting and working on small goals with a view to you achieving your bigger hopes and dreams. Some authors have expanded on SMART to include two extra letters, namely E and R to make SMARTER, where E stands for Evaluated and R stands for Reviewed. In this longer acronym, it is suggested that further success will be achieved if the individual takes time to evaluate progress and reviews and reflects on how things are going in order to identify any issues and make adjustments where necessary. This certainly makes sense to me and so I’ve chosen a specific time and date to do some reflective journaling on my progress towards all of the goals displayed on my vision board. I’ve written it into my Bullet Journal Future Log so I don’t forget and I’ve allotted two hours for the process, which might seem a lot but I think it’s important to set aside a big chunk of time if the session is going to be useful.

Final thoughts

I’m feeling really motivated to work towards my goals and it helps that I know my what, why, where, who, when and how. I may meet with obstacles or setbacks along the way, but by evaluating my progress and making small changes, I’m in with a good chance of success.

Let me know in the comments if you’re a fan of setting SMART (or SMARTER) goals or if you think it’s something you might like to try in the future. I would love to hear about what you’re working on right now and if you are meeting with success.

Posted in bullet journal, Bullet journaling, lifestyle, Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

Monday Matters: A beginner’s guide to Vision boards and how to create one in your Bullet Journal

When I start to feel better after a period of depression and anxiety, I tend to have lots of ideas for how I want my life to be now and what I want for my future. To avoid becoming overwhelmed, stressed and potentially causing a hypomanic episode (due to having bipolar disorder), I like to spend time taking a step back, really thinking about what I want for myself and asking myself some big questions. After reflecting, I like to create a visual reminder in the form of a vision board. In today’s Monday Matters I thought I’d present a beginner’s guide to vision boards and show you how I design and create mine in my bullet journal so that you can make one too.

What is a vision board?

A vision board is a collage of images and words which represent your current wishes and goals. It is used as a reminder of what you hope to achieve and aims to provide motivation and inspiration. Vision boards can be paper based or digital. They can contain as many words and images as you want but I find they work best if they’re relatively simple as then you are only working towards a small number of goals. Whereas a digital vision board works best if it fits onto your computer screen, a paper based vision board can be any size of your choosing. I created a large A1 sized board for my business and have the images and words pasted onto a black piece of card which is inside a clip frame. The vision board is on the wall in my craft room and I love looking at it regularly. My personal vision boards are usually created in my bullet journal on a double page spread and contain words and images from magazines as well as printouts from online resources like Pinterest. Click here to see an example of one I created during lockdown.

Your vision board can have a particular theme e.g. health and wellbeing, your word of the year etc, or it can be more general and include personal and/or professional related goals. Whichever style you choose, you need to spend some time reflecting on what you want your life to be like now and what you hope your life to look like in the future.

Some key questions to ask yourself:

  • What is most important to me in my life right now? (e.g. happiness, good health, work-life balance etc)
  • What are my core values? (e.g. family, creativity, self confidence, education, happiness, growth, self awareness etc)
  • What did I used to do in the past that I would like to start doing again now? (e.g. have lots of fun, meet friends for coffee, go to the gym, spend quality time with family etc)
  • What experiences would I like to have in the future? (travel the world, start a family, learn to swim, attend an art course etc)
  • What are my current interests or hobbies? (e.g. sewing, bullet journalling, watercolour painting, hiking, getting fit, baking etc)
  • Do I currently spend plenty of time engaging in things I enjoy? (e.g. I don’t feel I dedicate enough time to having fun, I always make time for my hobbies and interests etc)
  • What bad habits do I want to break? (drinking too much alcohol, going to bed late, eating unhealthy snacks, too many takeaways, spending too much time on social media etc)
  • What good habits do I want to instill? (e.g. exercise for 30 minutes 5 times a week, drink more water, eat more fruit and vegetables, starting a gratitude practice, meditating each morning, read one self help book each month etc)
  • What little things do I want to put in place right now? (e.g. daily gratitude, healthy breakfast, in bed by 10.30pm etc)
  • What are my big dreams for the future? (e.g. to write a book, to be a minimalist, to own a 3 bedroom home, to move to Australia, to travel the world, to have a family etc)
  • What can I do now to help me work towards my dreams / goals?
  • How will I feel when I achieve my goals / dreams? (proud, happy, confident, calm, successful etc)

How do vision boards work?

Vision boards only work if you do! By this, I mean that choosing representational images and words to describe your desires, goals and dreams is not enough to achieve them. You also need to identify steps to take to work towards what you want and create habits which will help you (or break habits which are not helpful). A vision board provides a useful visual reminder and, when looked at on a daily basis, can be used as a prompt to spend time evaluating and reflecting on your progress towards your specific goals and wishes, looking at any obstacles that have come up and how you will remedy problems. It can also help to motivate you into action – especially if the images and words you have chosen are exactly what you desire and spark great attraction.

What I find useful is to accompany my vision board with a page of notes. I write down what each image represents and also record what I need to do or not do to work towards achieving my vision. I can then move on to identify the baby steps I need to take to have the best chance of achieving my goals. Reflecting on your progress regularly and setting new small goals is also really important if you vision board is to have the best chance of working.

Designing your vision board

The design of your vision board should suit you and your lifestyle. If you prefer to work digitally, you could create a vision board to display on the desktop of your computer or even create a vision board on Pinterest using attractive images and motivational sayings and quotes. If you like to get creative, you might do a cut and paste from your favourite magazines – try flicking through them and see what resonates with you. You can even cut out individual letters or words to put together to make motivational phrases (a bit like a ransom note but full of positivity instead!). Use pictures which sum up exactly what you want, for example an image of someone who is smiling can represent wanting to feel happier in life, a big house in the countryside can show that you would love to live in a more rural location, a passport and pictures of key locations in a Paris e.g. The Eiffel tower and a cruise boat on the River Seine, would be good to remind you that you really want to visit the capital of France.

I like to create a double page spread in my bullet journal as this is something I look at multiple times a day and use morning and night. You can read about the process of setting up my vision board below.

Creating a vision board in your bullet journal

Image selection I find the best way to create my vision board in my bullet journal is to use photographs which are available online. If you use images from magazines, they may be vastly different in size. If you search chosen key words online you can spend time looking through the different pictures and find one which is suitable for what you want and then resize it to fit (I make the width of my images around 4cm – 6cm). I placed the photos into a document on MS Publisher which was 4x6in and then printed the pages out on photo paper of the same size using my Canon printer.

After that, I cut them out using my small Fiskars guillotine and backed them on mid pink coloured paper to make them stand out. The backing of the photos was rather time consuming, especially as you really need to use double sided tape for photograph paper. The process could be speeded up using a roller tape but if you’re limited for time, you could just stick the images straight in to you BuJo. I left a tiny border of pink as I wanted the photos to take centre stage.

Motivational words Again, I create the words myself in a MS Publisher document rather than looking through magazines so I can play around with the sizing, font and specific word classes e.g. verb, adjective, noun etc. I also chose to print them on coloured paper so that they stood out from the white paper just like my photos. It’s up to you how you produce your words – you could create stickers, stamp them onto paper, cut them out and stick them in or hand letter them for example.

Playing around with placement Once you’ve got your images and words ready, it’s time to try out different placements until you’re happy with how they’re arranged. It’s a good idea to experiment with different layouts and then take a quick photo of your double page spread each time so you can always revert back to a previous arrangement. Once your happy you can paste everything in. You might choose to add some decorative elements to any spaces, for example, if you’re creating your vision board for the Springtime, you might add flowers, hearts in Spring colours, butterflies, motivational words etc. This could be in the form of stickers and ephemera like mine or, if you’re good at drawing, you could create something using spring coloured felt tip pens or coloured pencils.

My finished vision board in my bullet journal

Final words…

I hope today’s blog post has inspired you to create your own vision board as a motivational tool for working towards your goals and dreams. Remember that vision boards are a great way for clearly identifying what you want for yourself now and in the future but as well as creating this attractive and motivational tool, you also need to identify progressive steps going forward and also dedicate time to work on making your hopes a reality.

Do you currently use a vision board or is it something you would like to have a go at creating? What would be the most prominent image or idea on your board? Let me know in the comments below.

With love and best wishes,

Posted in mental health, Mindfulness, Planning and journaling, wellbeing, wellness

Why I’m avoiding Pinterest this month and what I’m doing instead

Pinterest – banned for September!

I love Pinterest and find it a great source of inspiration and advice for my professional and personal life. I spend huge amounts of time pinning ideas to boards, organising my collections of pins and generally poring over infographics and beautiful images. However, with attractive images and information, for me, comes a huge desire for continual self improvement and feeling like I need to have it all. And this is the bit that I struggle with and ultimately why I’m taking time out from pinning and Pinterest this month.

Self improvement, in a nutshell, is the process of making yourself a better and more knowledgeable person. It’s something I spend a lot of time thinking about and planning for. But, one of the big problems for me is, that I end up with information overload from social media and find so many ways to ‘grow’ myself that I lose sight of what I actually want right now and become unhealthily obsessed with making massive changes and improvements.

What I really need to do, is simplify and think about my current goals and the small steps I might take in order to go about achieving them. But with Pinterest, and other social media platforms if I’m honest, I see stunning images and tempting ideas and basically, I want it all. A minimalist and clutter free home which is welcoming to anyone and always tidy. A stunning garden without a single weed or patch of unraked soil. Beautiful brush lettering that just flows naturally from my hand. A neat and ordered bullet journal with no mistakes or Tippex on the pages. A blog and a handmade business that everyone’s reading and talking about. Perfect, glossy hair that has that ‘just been to the hairdressers’ bounce. Skilfully applied ‘flawless’ make up. The list goes on, and on, and on.

So, for this month, I’m taking a step back. I’m reassessing my goals and thinking carefully about how I’m going to work towards achieving them. And for this, the only resources I need, are my vision board that I created back in January (which you can see here if you haven’t seen it already), my inspirational brand image board for my business (click here if you want to see) and a couple of goal related collections I made in my BuJo. By looking daily at my vision for this year and analysing what I actually want right now from my life, I hopefully won’t be distracted by all of the other stuff. This should help increase my productivity and in turn my achievements instead of creating total overwhelm and the feeling of personal dissatisfaction that often comes with creating an unachievable ideal.

I’m not going to totally avoid social media this month as I do like to know what’s going on in the world but I’m hoping my efforts to curb my tech time will help in some way. By writing my intention here to you all, I’m also hoping that my plan sticks and that I benefit from it, even if it’s just in some small way.

Have you ever given yourself some much needed time away from social media? How did it work for you. Let me know in the comments and wish me luck!

Bye for now, Laura xx

Posted in Planning and journaling, Setting goals and intentions

My bullet journal: Word of the year, vision board for 2019 and goal setting for the month of January

Happy New Year everyone! Hope you’re all well and excited to see what 2019 brings. My husband is at work doing some overtime today so I’ve finally found some time to take photographs of my bujo spreads and share with you how I’ve created my vision board for the year and set some goals for this month.

I started a new Scribbles That Matter bullet journal last month in December 2018, so I’m not starting a fresh notebook but I am changing up a few things from last year and making some new plans in order to increase my time working on developing myself both professionally and personally in line with the recommendations from my favourite new book The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod.

My word for 2019

I thought long and hard about what I want for myself and my handmade business for 2019 and after coming up with lots of ideas, the word which resonated with me the most was RESILIENCE.

Life is full of so challenges and pressures and it’s important to develop our capacity to deal with the various stresses and strains that are thrown at us and stay well physically, but also mentally. Wellbeing has been a big focus for my self care for a while now following some huge changes to my lifestyle.

Last year my word for the year was BALANCE as I felt I needed to work on ensuring I focused on dividing my time better so that I was able to balance my business and personal commitments much better. At the beginning of the year, I set lots of goals and thought really carefully about what I wanted but, I’m disappointed to admit that I didn’t spend anywhere near as much time following through on my intentions as I would have liked.

This year, I’m in a much more positive frame of mind and more determined to work on myself, ensure that all of things that get in the way of my good intentions do not hold me back. I want to develop my ability to deal with stress brought on by life’s challenges and maintain a stable mental wellbeing whatever life brings.

This is positioned right at the front of my 2019 bujo entries and will be looked at every day!

I’m really pleased with how the page turned out and hope it provides the inspiration for me to embody my word each and every day of 2019.

Be sure to share your word of the year and why you chose it in the comments below. I would love to hear what you’re going to focus on for 2019. Also what are your tips for making sure you keep your word at the forefront of your mind?

Creating my vision board

A page I made about vision boards and their use

In 2018, my vision board was poster sized, tacked to the wall of my craft room and was very inspirational, when I looked at it (which I really, really did for at least a few months!!!). This year, I decided to put my vision board in my bujo and look at it every day as part of my Miracle Morning visualisation exercises. I also decided to get my images from Pinterest so that I wasn’t limited to magazine bits and pieces from my collection.

I spent a long time perusing Pinterest, typing in pertinent words and looking for inspirational images. I then printed them on photo paper and trimmed them ready to paste into my bujo. I also collected words and phrases to accompany the images. You can see my finished double page board below.

Simple, and I hope, effective!
Close up of page 1
And a close up of page 2

What my vision board represents

  • the desire for a well stocked, tidy craft room
  • productivity in terms of my business
  • commitment to my Miracle Morning practise for the 30 day challenge and beyond
  • quality time with my husband
  • a focus on getting little birds in our garden and wildlife photography
  • a well structured and beautiful garden
  • exercise which works on improving my core strength (and hopefully ridding me of the dreadful sciatica I’m currently suffering from)
  • getting my nails in good condition and being able to paint them
  • learning more about flat lay photography and sharing more planner and journal spreads on social media.

What does your vision board for the year look like? I’d love it if you shared in the comments below.

Setting goals for this month…

To begin my journey of a happy and successful 2019, I set myself a number of goals for January. I split them into business and personal goals. I’m pleased to say, I’ve achieved some of them already and it’s only 6th Jan!

Ambitious goals for January

That’s all for now. I hope this post has inspired you to think about your intentions for 2019 and maybe try out a few of the spreads. Don’t forget to share your own ideas for the year. I look forward to hearing from you.

Much love,