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From Traditional Success to Personal Fulfillment

#2023planning #confidence #permission Oct 21, 2023

Did you realize we are in Q4?📆

The number of conversations I’ve had with people about how they haven’t achieved their goals for the year is on the rise. 😣 The discouragement I hear, the frustration, the push to accomplish them no matter what, giving way to shame or anger - it’s heartbreaking.

Me - I just lived the first ¾ of 2023 with the big bad secret that... (hold onto your chair)

I didn’t set any goals! 🙈

I know - shocking


Lazy. Right?

Um - NOPE. 🫷

It’s Life Changing, that’s what it is!

I cannot tell you how many years I claimed to be all about productivity, efficiency, creating and implementing systems, and always - ALWAYS - setting and reaching goals. Not anymore. At least not in 2023. 

It all began… last Fall, actually. In the past, I’d always used the 4th quarter of each year as an “on ramp” 🏎️ to get my goals going for Q1 of the next year. Ordering my planner, planning out my vision board (including the workshop), deciding what I wanted the next year to look like. 

But something was off.

Yes, 2022 was a hard year. Yes, Q4 of 2022 was especially hard (personal stuff, IKYN). I just didn’t have any desire to march forward with the same systems I’d used for the last 10+ years. Nothin’. Nada. 

I even woke up on New Year’s Day and thought, “hmmm… what will my goals be this year?”

Of course, I’d already planned my Vision Board Workshop for the end of the month, and y’all, it went off great! Everyone who participated seemed to be inspired and got a great start to their year. 

Except me - I created some small poster boards with ideas for how I wanted to dress and express myself. 

What? 🤣

I’m AAALLLLL for figuring that kind of thing out, but at my age, it was pretty much a cop out. 🤦

Did I finish them? No.

Did I follow through with making that live workshop evergreen like I’d planned? No.

I just didn’t want to do it. 

I didn’t have a vision. 

I felt more like I was on a journey, rather than heading for a destination.

Deep down I knew this year would be different - maybe a breakout year?

One by one, the standards by which I’d been measuring my success (revenue, clients, goals met, how hard I pushed myself) became irrelevant. 

I’d been hanging onto these remnants from my corporate career that told me how I was “supposed” to measure my success, and they no longer mattered.

Now what?

I just kept moving forward. Playing the game, and making small changes along the way. 

Fast forward to the first week of June, in the “GOALS” meeting of my small group coaching program, The Beach 🏝️. I realized I needed to own up to the fact that this form of success measurement - these metrics - weren’t going to work for me any longer.

But how could I say it? That was the premise of the group! Goal setting, gentle accountability, encouragement & community. 

Here's the beautiful thing about community, though... I wasn't alone... and I didn't even say it first.

Nearly everyone on the call admitted to some form of discouragement over unmet “goals.” Rolling them over from one month to the next, only built on that sense of lack, non-accomplishment. 

It’s pretty easy to sit back and be a good coach, asking all the right questions. Like "Well, why are you keeping that on your list? What standard are you trying to meet? What expectation are you trying to live up to?"

Then my friend, and fellow coach, Lee McCraw-Leavitt, shared that it was a good month for HER to set INTENTIONS rather than goals. 

Eyebrows went up. hmmm…🤨

Heads tilted to the side. Silence…🤔

The sticky notes on the shared JAM board began to change, reflecting less concrete aspirations. 

My own Intentions for the month went from specific numbers for downloads, revenue, new client signings, workouts or pounds lost to: Create, Learn, Rebrand.

There was a collective sigh and relaxation in the zoom room.

We did this for the next three months. We still called it the "Goals" meeting, but in reality, we were all setting our intentions. 

I say "we did" because I closed my small group program, The Beach, at the end of September. It was a safe space to develop ideas, but it was still built on the standards and metrics I’d brought from my corporate life. It just took me longer than I realized, to let go of that mindset (metrics of success), those SMART goals… That was part of the struggle...

I didn’t want to let go of what was familiar in order to grasp what was next.


So, here we are, mid OCTOBER - what have I learned, where do I stand?

Have I set goals? Not really.

What I have gained, however, is wisdom.

This whole process challenged my Conditioning of what it means to be productive and successful. I’ve been self employed over 2 years, and people still ask me “how’s your new job?” 

That’s evidence of the Conditioning we all experience in this culture. It’s normal. Breaking out of that, challenging it, can be hard. But it’s worth it.  

I learned I needed to rewrite the definition of what success means to me, then reprogram my own conditioning in this area. Of course, I’m not done, but I can say with certainty that it’s totally the right path for 2023, and maybe even 2024!

Welcome to my “struggle.” 

Learning how to lean IN to my own strengths, and determine and understand my own definition of success.


Has 2023 been similar for you? Are you struggling with rolling goals over month after month? Are you terribly uninspired by the goals you have set?

Ask yourself these questions:

What “goals” do you keep rolling over month to month?

  • Why?
  • Is it time to admit that those aren’t your metrics?
  • If they aren’t, what do yours look like?

Are your own success metrics governed by Assumptions, Beliefs or Conditioning?

  • Most of the time this is where Conditioning shows up, but every so often, it’s your Beliefs
  • What Conditioning do you need to challenge?


Next, here are four things to do or watch for as you move forward.

1. Develop your OWN metrics for success.

  • How are your metrics different from what the rest of the world aspires to?
  • What do they look like?

2. Set your Intentions, rather than goals, then act on them. 

  • Goals can be intimidating and discouraging… choose a direction rather than an end.
  • Make a decision, then take some action.
  • Stay flexible - intentions should be ongoing and changing

3. If you must set goals, make them inspirational and aspirational rather than result oriented. 

  • SMART goals are for project management and organizational standards.
  • Write down your dreams and use your imagination - what’s possible?
  • The “result” might be intangible, but that’s ok. Remember mine, “Learn & Create?”

4. Accept that you will need to let go of familiar things in order to grasp the next thing.

  • I had to let go of: my old podcast format, revenue goals, The Beach, setting goals at all.
  • What are you holding onto that is keeping you from reaching for what’s next?

Here’s the weird thing. 2023 is turning out to be the year in which I’ve had the highest revenue, greatest satisfaction in my clients, and the greatest variety of work. 

My success just may be defining itself!


I’m curious to know - have you had a similar struggle this year? 

When asked to “set goals” does your stomach turn into a bowl of spaghetti?

Success is subjective. Understanding YOU, your Core Values, how you communicate, your needs… that’s how you can define your OWN metrics for success.

I want to hear from you!

DM me on social media (@theintentionaloptimist), or email me at [email protected] and tell me your thoughts or ask me your questions.

If this IS you, this is your opportunity to stop that madness and set your own metrics for success. 


If you’re stuck in a goal-driven rut, check out the audio or video version of this post, then tell me how you’ll discover your own definition of success, just as I have. 💃



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