Goals and Maintaining Motivation Year-Round


I learned the importance of goals back in high school track and field. My coach taught us to develop goals regularly and constantly find ways to achieve them. It was a great lesson because it took my very basic goals such as “set a new personal record” to “I am going to pole vault 15 feet by May”. It is very important to be specific when creating goals. I just recently read in the book, The Compound Effect, a quote by Paul Meyer that said, “If you are not making the progress that you would like to make and are capable of making, it is simply because your goals are not clearly defined”. I think this statement really hits it home. Clear and specific goals are necessary to make regular and consistent progress.

Specific goals also help you avoid falling into the trap of “working really hard but accomplishing nothing” that we sometimes fall in to. It is a disappointing place where you feel like you’re doing so much but not really getting anywhere. If you’re ever feeling like you are in that place, it is because your work is not focused or you are trying to work on too many things at once. It is better to go all in on one thing and do it well than half-ass ten things and make no progress with any of them. Kylee and I went to go see Made for More by Rachel Hollis last night (author of Girl, Wash Your Face) and Rachel made a metaphor that I really liked. She made the comparison of throwing a boulder into a lake versus throwing in bunch of small rocks—which one makes more of a ripple? By going all in on one thing and making progress in that one area, your motivation and drive that you get from that one area will naturally spread to other areas of your life and you will naturally make progress everywhere. Rachel’s content is mainly directed towards women but the message is universal and I really enjoyed it. We will be hearing her speak at the coaching summit that we are going to this summer and now we are even more excited to go! Ladies—definitely check her stuff out. Guys—buy your girlfriend one of her books or something.


People often find a little extra motivation around the new year so this is an excellent time to capitalize on your newfound drive! To make your motivation actually last more than the first two weeks of the new year, you need to create a plan for each of your goals. By making a plan and accomplishing goals regularly, you can maintain that motivation year-round. The plans need to only be as complex as the goals. Even for simple goals though, I would recommend coming up with three things you can do to accomplish them. For example: if your goal is to cut out soda from your diet, you might stop drinking soda (obviously), come up with an alternative to drink when you crave soda (tea), and keep track of how many days you’ve gone without soda. If you give in to your cravings, document what you had and why you ended up having it. Writing down why you gave in is a good exercise to do because you’ll usually end up finding the reason why you gave in to be ridiculous and you’ll be less likely to do it again. Most importantly, if you do give in, don’t beat yourself up over it, write down your reasoning, and just get right back on the horse. Failing is just a part of the process. The only reason you can’t accomplish your goal is if you give up and you’re less likely to give up if you have a plan! Another great quote from The Compound Effect is “a goal without a plan is just a fantasy”. Don’t let your goals just be fantasies. Go write them down, make them specific and quantifiable, create a plan, and please read The Compound Effect.

Being Adaptable and Staying Positive

I have changed course many times in the last 5 or 6 years since beginning college. I started college at Paradise Valley Community College to run track and study business. I knew it was common for people to switch majors throughout college, but I did not realize how difficult it could be to decide on one. Throughout my two years at PVCC, I fluctuated between business, exercise science, mathematics, and eventually landed on teaching English. I was able to decide on teaching English because I reframed how I was approaching my major. I was struggling to pick a major because I did not know what I wanted to do with a degree once I got it. I decided that I might be better off picking a job and then going back and finding an appropriate major that would set me up for success in that career field.

            I knew that I wanted to see the world and I knew that if money wasn’t a factor that I would be a teacher. So, I boiled it down to wanting to teach, wanting to make money, and wanting to travel. After doing some research I found that teaching English abroad would be the perfect way to achieve all three. I could make a decent wage, live abroad, and teach! My plan, while abroad, was to also study the education systems I taught in so that I could eventually come back and figure out how to help our education system here. What I didn’t realize at the time I made this plan, was that my motivations were backwards.

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

Celebrating finishing college before going right back to college!

            When I transferred to Arizona State University to begin working on my degree in secondary education and began interning in schools, I realized just how poor our education here is. At first, this reinforced my desire to go abroad. I was just going to steer clear of the craziness that is going on here and head out. But, in my last semester of the program during my student teaching, I became interested in graduate school. With graduate school, I would still be sticking around for a while longer, postpone my teaching a little bit, and setting myself up for bigger possibilities for a career in education. Still with the teaching English abroad plan in mind however, I applied for a Masters in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (MTESOL).

            I realized upon starting the semester in the MTESOL program, that MTESOL is a much more research-based degree based on the theory behind second language acquisition and not necessarily a teaching degree. This realization did two things for me: one, I decided that second language acquisition, while interesting, was not really a career path that I wanted to dedicate myself to, and two, I realized I have an interest in research. So, now I have switched majors at the Associate level, the Bachelor level, and now the Masters level. I have decided to switch out of the MTESOL program and am now in the application process for getting into a program called Learning Sciences.

            Learning Sciences is a little more focused on educational research and considers the systems behind learning in a variety of contexts. I think it is a cool degree because it goes beyond just education in the classroom and studies what learning looks like in other environments and systems as well. I excited for yet another change of pace and can’t wait to see what I can accomplish in a program that I feel is better aligned with my motivations. I have come to realize that I do not need to wait to try help our education system in the future when I can get started on it now.

            Ultimately, the point of this post is not to go on and on about the different kinds of graduate degrees that ASU offers, the point I really want to illustrate is that it is completely fine to decide that you don’t like something and switch gears. You can do all this planning and have it all laid out and the suddenly something new enters your world and changes your perspective on things. Or, you might get started and have an epiphany a few weeks into your new graduate program that perhaps you did not fully understand your own motivations. Whatever happens, it is important to be adaptable. Destinations change so it is important to enjoy the journey. I can view my change in programs as an expensive mistake, or I can view it as a valuable lesson. The choice is mine, and mine alone. I know I can adapt and roll with the punches and I am good at finding the positive outlook in any situation. Having a positive mindset is the key to being adaptable. I believe that if you can develop a positive mindset, you can handle anything. If you are stressed out or unsure about what you are doing or where you are going, you have the power to change all of that. Even if you don’t know what road you are on, know that it is the road for you.


3 Quotes to Ponder:

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

I’m a big fan of quotes and phrases as a source of motivation and a way to stay positive!

 “The greatest weapon against stress is our ability to choose on thought over another”

“The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts”

“Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end”


Comment below how many times you have switched majors/careers or one of your strategies to stay positive!

Life Can Really Suck, But it Doesn’t Have To

As my 25th birthday is quickly approaching I have been spending a lot of time thinking about my life up to this point. I have had high points and low points but I honestly cannot say that I could have ever imagined being as in love with my life as I am now. I hear people say all the time that “when I’m ____ years old, I’ll have my life together and I will finally be happy” and that used to be me too! I was constantly searching for the ways that I could fill the spaces that were empty in my life and check off those things that I thought would make me happy. But every time I seemed to find something that checked off one of those boxes, I was always opening up a spot for something else. It was like no matter what I did, or what I had it wasn’t going to be good enough. I always needed something else, and I felt like I was never going to be happy. But what I didn’t realize was that happiness is not something that I can feel because I have X,Y and Z all checked off on some list. Happiness is not a destination, it is a way of life.

I’m going to take a step back for a minute and fill some of you in on a few details of the past 25 years of my life. My parents are divorced, and have been since I was very young (I don’t even remember ever seeing my parents together) and being part of a divorce, whether child or parent, is never easy. I spent summers and holidays flying back and forth from one family to the other and everything I ever did and/or wanted to do was not really my choice. When I was younger I would cry because I missed my dad when I was with my mother and I would cry because I missed my mother when I was with my dad, but I never really felt like I belonged anywhere. On one hand, my father got re-married and I gained two new step-siblings; and on the other hand, my mother got re-married and I would gain two new half-siblings, but where does that leave me? Where am I supposed to fit in? It is such a strange feeling knowing that you are loved (because whose parents don’t love them, right?) but not feeling like you really fit in.

Fast forward to when I was a little bit older (think pre-teen), I began to realize that I was constantly being lied to by my mother. Whether she was saying she called but she didn’t or my Christmas packages would arrive around Easter time. I just didn’t understand why her story wouldn’t add up. My mother would tell me that my dad must have deleted her phone calls or taken my packages and that he was just trying to keep me from her; and as a young girl who wanted so desperately to feel loved by her mother, I believed her. Over the years I would continue to be disappointed by my mother over and over again. Bless my father/grandfather/grandmother/family because they never, I mean NEVER, said a bad thing to me about my mother. No matter what the situation or what was said one way or the other, they wanted to make sure I formed my own opinions about her. They would try to make up excuses for her telling me that maybe she forgot to send the package or that she got busy and forgot she didn’t call. But as time went on and as I got older I began to realize that these were just excuses and all that ever came from my mother was empty promises. From missed birthdays to missed family vacations I learned to not trust what I was told by my mother. But no matter how hard I tried, part of me still wanted to believe that she cared; I wanted to believe that I was important to her. I kept giving my mother more chances to prove me wrong, to show me that she cared and guess what, she never did. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned up to this point in my life, is that there is a difference between giving up and realizing that I have had enough.  And let me tell you I had, certainly had enough.

            Last year in March, I was so fortunate to be able to attend an amazing event hosted by Tony Robbins. I know, I know, you’ve probably already heard all about him. But I promise this isn’t some kumbaya all about how it changed my life, but more so how I used what Tony Robbins teaches that helped me. After spending 3 days being empowered and uplifted by his words of positivity and encouragement I realized I was never going to be happy living like I was. I consistently put up with being treated like I wasn’t worth anything to anyone. I always would do whatever people asked of me without even taking a breath because I had always learned to put others before myself. In feeling like I didn’t belong, I learned to think my feelings were unimportant compared to what everyone else was going through and that how I felt about things did not matter. Yeah, my parents are divorced, but at least I wasn’t being physically abused. Yeah, I never got to spend alone time with my father after he got re-married, but at least my dad was happy. Yeah, I don’t really feel like I belong, but at least I have a roof over my head.The list could go on and on, but that is not the point.

The point is that I never realized how little value I put on myself until I took a step back and looked at how unhappy I was with my life. I was unhappy because I was letting myself be unhappy. I was unhappy because I was focusing on all the things that ‘sucked’ in my life. There are so many amazing things to be grateful, and here I was constantly having a pity party because life wasn’t going my way. So, I decided that I had had enough and that I would no longer allow myself to settle for feeling unworthy and unwanted. Feeling all high and mighty with my new found (tiny) bought of confidence, I decided to let my mother know exactly how she was making me feel. And guess what? She told me that I was ungrateful, that these feelings were all in my head and that I was letting her down with my life choices. And then she kicked me out of her house. When I finally had decided that I had had enough, and wanted her to put forth even a fraction of the effort I had put forth over all these years, she couldn’t do it. Which meant that I was right, I wasn’t important to her. And the worst part was, that it didn’t make me feel any better!

I thought that I was supposed to feel better because she did exactly what I expected her to? But I just felt even more worthless, she really never wanted me or respected me. I truly have never felt more emotionally, physically or spiritually drained but that was the best thing that has ever happened to me. You see the thing is that when you hit that rock bottom, and you feel like your life really can’t get any worse: your mother disowned you, you have no place to live, your entire existence is in 5 cardboard boxes in someone’s garage; your perspective begins to change. You start to see all the possibilities that life has to offer. You realize that you never really felt like you were worth anything, but choosing yourself over someone else’s idea of who you were supposed to be obviously means you’re worth something. I started to work on myself and becoming the person that I wanted to be: kind, outgoing, adventurous, loving, spontaneous. I am so glad that I did, because I don’t know where I would be now if I hadn’t have made that choice.

Now I am not going to sit here and act like it was all picture perfect, because it wasn’t (just ask Justin). It was, and still is, a huge work in progress. I have my good days and I have my bad. But through consistent personal development, long talks with Justin and some good long cry’s, I have begun to shape my life into one that I love. Every single day I am happy to wake up and see whatever adventure life has in store for us today. I am so lucky to have such amazing peoples in my life. Justin is such a positive person, he has helped me to focus on the good in every situation, realize that it is okay to not be perfect and has shown me more love than I could have ever imagined. And I cannot forget my father and my grandparents that have always been so encouraging and supportive, always rooting for my success and happiness whatever that may be at the time. I am forever grateful to know that I will always be loved. You see, when you begin to focus on the good, the good just keeps getting better.

So here’s to turning 25 and seeing what adventure comes next!

~ Kylee