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How Goal-Setting Can Be a Life-Saver For a Working Mom

Since I’ve had my two children I sometimes feel overwhelming panic. Panic combined with the stress of too much information and not enough time.

This means that no matter what I do, I often feel like I should be doing something else. It’s a disturbing feeling which can make it difficult to focus and a challenge to really accomplish anything. So I’m trying to get back to goal-setting to help me clear my mind, focus my energies and be the happiest mom I can be. I’ve found in the past that setting myself goals and timelines works well for me. Goals help me clarify exactly what I want to do, in the short, medium and long-term. They also help me identify what’s important and what I really want to spend my time on.

We often get too focused on one or two aspects of our lives

Years ago, I did a course on Effective Personal Productivity with Leadership Management Ireland and one of the things that have really stuck with me from it were the power of goals and the idea of setting goals to establish priorities in all six areas of your life: financial and career, physical and health, family and home, mental and educational, spiritual and ethical, and social and cultural. As busy working mothers, we often get too focused on one or two aspects of our lives, and we forget to tend to other, important areas. Our time is heavily weighted in favour of financial and career, and family and home.

This is probably somewhat unavoidable, at least for a few years but the important thing is to set aside some time to take stock, to evaluate your priorities and set yourself goals. Perhaps you don’t have time to train to run a marathon but you might want to set yourself a goal of running 5km over the next year or taking part in an adventure race. And, sure, you probably aren’t partying like you did Before Children, but if you are feeling a bit of a social recluse you could set yourself a goal of joining a social group or club and maybe you’re not religious but perhaps you can make time to go to a meditation or mindfulness class once a week.

You alone are responsible for your life and only you can decide what’s important. You are not just a mother nor just an employee or a business owner… you are a complex person with many needs and desires, dreams and ambitions. If you are feeling dissatisfied or as though your life is out of balance, take a look at your wheel of life and figure out what you want and set your priorities. Then take the time to write down some short, medium and long-term goals. Just remember to make your goals SMART, in other words, make them:

  • Specific: So instead of a vague goal like ‘get fit’, make your goal something ultra-specific like ‘run the 5km fun run in September’.
  • Measurable: make sure your goal and its outcome can be measured so you can know when you’ve achieved it. Put numbers on your goal so you can track it easily.
  • Attainable: if your goal is too lofty, you are more than likely setting yourself up for failure. Make your goals challenging, but realistic, as actually achieving your goals will give you a great mental boost.
  • Relevant: only choose goals that are really important to you and that fit into your lifestyle. If you don’t REALLY care about it, then it more than likely won’t happen.
  • Timely: make sure you set a target date for completion and if necessary, date specific timelines. An end date will make that goal more urgent and you more focused.

As working mothers, it’s all too easy to get stuck in a rut - getting through the everyday challenges can sometimes be goal enough. But it pays to take time out to examine where we are at and where we want to be and take steps to make that happen. If you have dreams and ambitions, now is the time to realise them. Tomorrow might never come.

"A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” ― Harvey MacKay

About the authors: Martina Perry and Elaine Lawless set up The Working Mother to provide support and advice to working mothers all over Ireland, struggling to achieve that elusive work-life harmony. For more see www.theworkingmother.ie. Elaine Lawless has two young children, and is married to a professional chef, which means she rarely, if ever cooks the dinner. She works part-time in Waterford for a US publishing company and in 2006 she started her own CV-writing business, igniting a passion for entrepreneurship and a determination to help others achieve their career goals. She spends her time juggling two kids, a husband and a dog with a part-time job, a business and the remains of a social life.

Martina Perry is married to rugby-obsessed New Zealander Grant and is mother to two small girls, Caitlin and Elise.  She recently quit her 14-year career with a major international publishing group to pursue her dreams of starting her own business and creating a support network for all working mothers.  When she’s not writing from her kitchen table she can be found with her head in the books studying for her CIMA exams or with kindle and coffee (or wine) in hand.

About the Author

Jo Lavelle is a freelance editor and journalist with 12 years experience in the magazine, newspaper and radio industry. During her magazine career, she was style and beauty editor, before going to be editor of a magazine group. She was also a news writer and reporter for both newspapers and radio, in addition to feature writing for the press. She’s mum to 18 month old Elise, and has another on the way!

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