Goal-Setting Tips That Work For Me

I’m trying to figure out at what age things really started to shift for me, confidence-wise. My earliest memory of feeling powerful enough to change my own life was in my early 20s. I had a part-time job at Hobby Lobby and a wedding photography business that I wasn’t cut out for. I wasn’t making much money and I wasn’t enjoying my work. Although both those experiences are super normal for someone in their early 20s, I was searching for a way to create a better career for myself.

I did scrapbooking for a hobby and I started to see that the same people in the scrapbooking magazines I bought also had books and product lines you could buy at the craft stores. I remember telling my friend that I thought I could do that for a job. It was pretty clear from her face that she thought I was a bit crazy. To be fair, it was a crazy plan. But two years later, I was the one who had the book in the stores and the product line in the aisles. When I would go into Hobby Lobby, all my previous coworkers would want to ask me questions about the book and the magazines I was in.

It was such a big life change for me between the ages of 22 and 24. I didn’t finish college and I didn’t have any connections. So how did I do it? I’ll share it with you today!

Setting goals is scary. A lot of us don’t set the really big goals because we’re afraid of failing. The “secret” to my first big career moment was that I wasn’t afraid to fail. I knew I could do it and I was fine with trying for as long as it took to get where I wanted to be.

Here are a few tips for making and achieving big goals: 

-Write your goals on paper and say them out loud. 
These actions give life to your dreams and goals. It’s weird and scary the first time you say it out loud, but it gets easier (and more real) each time you do!

Choose goals that you know deep within yourself that you can achieve.

-Realize that failure is not that bad.  
There are many goals I’ve made where I didn’t complete them or changed my plans along the way as I found something bigger or more meaningful. Failure is not always a bad thing. A lot of our business ventures have technically been failures, but each time we learned valuable lessons that we needed to move forward.

Additionally, even if you complete a goal to 50%, you are 50% farther along than you would have been without making that goal in the first place!

-Play the long game. 
So many people quit the first time they hit a speed bump or get discouraged. The most important part of achieving big goals is that you are prepared to play the long game. Don’t be one of those people who misses a workout on Jan. 4 and then quits that whole plan! It’s normal to have bad days and setbacks, but keep the big picture in mind and motivate yourself to keep going with smaller rewards and goals along the way!

One of the most important things I want to teach my girls is how to make and achieve big goals. I want to help them to find something that seems “too big,” make the goal, do the work day in and day out and then celebrate their successes with them. It’s such an important confidence lesson in life that I want them to learn.

Do you have big dreams that you’re afraid to say out load? My challenge to you today is to write them down and say them. That’s the first step! You can do it! xx – Elsie

Credits//Author: Elsie Larson. Photography: Amber Ulmer. Photos edited with A Color Story Desktop.
Note: This post is pre-scheduled. I am currently on my maternity leave with baby Marigold (!!!!!!!), so if I don’t respond to your comment, don’t worry, someone else on our team will. I am so grateful for the opportunity to take a little time to bond with our new baby. But I left a bunch of posts in the drafts for you to enjoy while I’m away. See you on the other side! xx
  • I never went to University when it was “time to go” after high school. Now I know that in a few years from now, if I want to advance in my career, I’ll need that Bachelor’s degree. I should have done it years ago (YEARS ago I tell ya) but I procrastinated, told myself it was too much, I didn’t have time, etc. I was 31 (last year) when I registered as a part time university student. I’m doing my degree one course per session, online. I work full time (a busy job too), we’re a family of four with 2 young boys and it’s hard to keep a social life right now outside work, family and school but this is my current goal and it’s gonna take a while and I’m still motivated (we’ll see how I feel in a couple of years and I’m discouraged ;p). And really it’s a two goal thing when you think about it. I’m working on my degree so I can have that piece of paper that will bring me pride but also, I’m getting that to further my career in the future. You just have to make the decision and take the plunge.

    • Me too! I just turned 30, and I’m trying to complete mine. I dropped out after a year, and although I don’t regret it, it’s a lot harder to complete uni with a full adult life. Fortunately I work in the online division of a uni, so it’s a little easier to navigate.

    • It’s great that you’re doing it now. Don’t be discouraged. My aunt wasn’t able to go to college due to having a child at a young age, raising him as a single mom, struggling, and with an attempt atcollege but dropping out due to getting into a car accident that left her disabled. All this, and finally, at 60yrs old, next week she’s starting college for graphic design! So happy for her and you!

    • I got my bachelors at age 40, soon after, I divorced my then husband. Things worked out because I continued to work my butt off & had a 6 year old to boot. I don’t even like to think about those days but I did weather it and went on to have a successful business of my own for the next 12 years. So regardless of where in life you are, dig your heels in, finish. Getting my bachelors was on my bucketlist so it’s something I’ll never regret doing. But, one word of caution//at the time, last semester before graduating, I took 18 credits to get it done. That fall semester was excruciating because I still had a daughter who needed me & the holidays were coming up. My now x wasn’t at all empathetic so I still had to do it all. Lots of traumadrama re that time. If I had it to do over again, I would have put 3 credits into next years schedule & been way less exhausted, anxious & sad. Still I did go on to have a super career, like a second life & still managed to prioritize my daughter. I had no family living in the state much less city, even her father had left the state. Nonetheless we prevailed, writing out my goals was the pivotal ingredient. Now I’ve entered into another, final phase of my life & am about to create that goal list once again. Thanks for the reminder.

  • Can you share more details of your “how you did it” story of getting your products on the shelves? You and your sister have started a ton of businesses and I would love to read how you went from idea/goal to reality! Xo!

  • Hi Elsie – Without dating myself, wink, wink, I have followed you since you started your scrapbook line, own your book and have followed your blog since well, pretty much day one. I think what I admire most, besides all the awesome DIY, is how honest you are about what has worked for you and what hasn’t. Even when your dreams/adventures were scary you did it anyway. Some successful some not so successful. Before I had my daughter I was a commercial interior designer. I love what I did but with fertility issues and knew she would probably be our only child so decided it was more important to me to stay home with her. Now that she is older, I started a business 6 months ago which has been great! But the dream, the dream that knocks at my soul, that paralyzes me with fear, is to build a tiny house to donate. Every time I take a step or 2 forward I take 6 back. I have a plan, the design, products to sell to raise money and looked into a Gofund me page. I think when you get older and have responsibilities you become cautious. My point in telling you all of this is, your blog post was a friendly reminder that’s all about the long game. So what if I have taken 6 steps back, take 7 forward or maybe just one step at a time.

    Happ maternity leave!! FYI….I follow your family insta too…:) Those girls……OMG!

  • I remember the scrapbooking line and met you waaaay back then at a class. It’s so great to see all that you have done as it is inspiring. Would also love to hear more about actual steps business wise. So loving the personal posts lately it’s what I miss most about blogs so I hope this continues here. 💕

  • As someone who’s had a career, retreated, took some time out and now only found direction again, it’s really nice to hear some encouragement and a reminder not to give up. I’m hoping that now I’m a little older (and maybe wiser?!), setbacks and failure will only make me more determined.

  • I’ve been following you guys for awhile and used your blog course to start my blog. I have an important question: people have told me when you’re starting out only focus on one specific niche. I love your site and how it contains many different creative topics and I want that for myself one day. Any thoughts on this would be much appreciated!

  • Decorating, recipes and fashion are great, but this kind of post is my favorite.

  • Great tips! I’ve been following you since those early scrapbooking days and am so inspired by how far you’ve come Elsie, bravo!

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