Episode #136: A Deep Dive into Goals

In today’s episode, we are chatting about our favorite subject: goals! We’re giving our best tips on how to plan and achieve them.

We’re also sharing a random embarrassing story and a book report about Playing Big by Tara Mohr.


You can stream the episode here, on the blog, or on iTunesSpotifyGoogle PlayTuneInPocket Casts, and Stitcher. You can find the podcast posts archive here.

A big thank you to our sponsors! Check out the offers from Bite, How to Buy a Home Podcast, Bev, and Function of Beauty. And, if you’re looking for a specific code you heard on the podcast, you can see a full list on this page!

Show notes:

-How to plan goals: zooming in (planning by quarters) and zooming out (Making a five-year plan).

-Tips for goal setting: journal, reward yourself, think of one small thing you could do today to move toward your goal.

Listen to Episode 127: Elsie’s Life Map.

Listen to Episode 123: Emma’s Life Map.

-Check out Goal-Setting Tips That Work For Me

-We mentioned The 12 Week Year by Brian P. Moran and Michael Lennington.

-We love The Curated Closet workbook by Anuschka Rees.

-We mention this blog post from Steffy.

-Here’s a photo of Elsie’s pottery studio progress:

-Check out the Inner Mentor visualization from Playing Big.

-Let us know your thoughts on Playing Big by Tara Mohr on this IG post.

Miss an episode? Get caught up!

Episode 136 Transcript

Emma: You’re listening to the A Beautiful Mess Podcast. Today we’re chatting about our favorite subject – goals. We’re also sharing a random embarrassing story and then sharing a book report about Playing Big by Tara Mohr. 

Elsie: Whoa!

Emma: Woo-hoo. 

Elsie: Okay, so before we dive into our goal-setting chat, I thought I would share my amazing news. I have some great news in my house this week. So this week, and I have been working on this all year since I think I started last summer, my pottery room is finally done. Yeah, it’s completed. It has lights, it has a sink, it has a kiln with a proper electrical panel. I don’t know how to use it. They just handed me the manual and said, like, enjoy this light reading but I’m going to figure it out. I’m going to read my note, and I’m going to YouTube the sh*t out of that. But I’m just like so so so excited to start using it finally. 

Emma: I love it so much. I’m excited.

Elsie: Okay, so this episode is about goal setting. We talk about goals all the time. I think that it’s just like one of our true passion subjects so we just like come back and back and back always for more. I mean, every year, I feel like you gain so much more perspective about goal setting just by doing it year after year. Especially this past year has been one of our very challenging years of life. So I think our perspective is a little bit more tender right now and like compassionate towards ourselves, then maybe like a few years back, maybe we were more like hardcore. 

Emma: I used to be so ambitious. No, I’m kidding. I am still ambitious.

Elsie: I think that we’re ambitious but we’re also giving ourselves like a pat on the back and a hug and don’t cry or cry as much as you want. I don’t know.

Emma: Yeah and I would also say like, maybe part of my problem is, I don’t think of ambition. I think of it just for like work and hobbies and personal goals. I don’t think of it with parenting, which is probably my own problem that I should fix in my mind. It’s like, well, I’m also just like, I am ambitious about how much time I want to spend with my son and I’m actually nailing that. But I think I don’t really apply the word ambition to that realm for some reason, which I don’t know what’s that about?

Elsie: I actually don’t either. I don’t really make goals for parenting as much as you would think. I just find that, for me, it’s more being present every day and just giving myself to that day. 

Emma: No, it makes sense. 

Elsie: Yeah. It’s kind of like a relationship. It’s like, do you have goals for your relationship? Because I maybe have like one or two, but not really. It’s like, we’re just trying to be in love and hang out and have fun and that’s what I’m doing with my kids too I feel like 

Emma: Yeah, I guess not really. I tend to think more of goals for myself that have to do with our relationship, like growing in my communication, various things like that.

Elsie: Yeah. I will say my goal-setting experience is mostly in work and hobbies, just like Emma. But anyone can make goals for whatever. I mean, I think it’s just a function of what is helping you live your life right now.

Emma: Well, let’s talk about some of our first memories of setting a huge goal and completing it, because I feel like when it’s kids stuff or high school stuff that kind of broadens your idea of like, because right now if you’re like us and you’re in your 30s, and you’re thinking about goals, you probably have a pretty kind of narrow focus in some ways. So let’s just talk about what’s your first big memory of setting a goal and completing it and how it felt.

Elsie: So as far as like, just a personal hobby goal, my first memory is when I was, I would guess like sixth grade or maybe fifth grade, I’m not sure. Definitely elementary school. It was a map of a city. Do you remember this? There was a family for every letter in the alphabet. So it would be like the A family and everyone in that family had an A name. a name that started with A. Then there was a be family and I had to make sure that there was like, the balance of kids there who are different ages. I don’t know, and it had businesses and where do the people work. That was as far as I got into it at that age, but I spent a lot of time on it and it’s something mom brings up to me a lot still. It’s something I think about sometimes because for one, it wasn’t a school project and I had no, it was a personal passion project. It’s something that in some ways comes back to me now in my career as something that I consider useful. The skill of being able to do something like that, and keep my attention and obsession locked in is useful. 

Emma: You and I have talked about this a lot on the podcast, and just generally on our blog, we kind of think a lot of our success is just the fact that we finish things. We have ideas and we finish them because there’s nothing sadder than someone who has a wonderful, amazing idea and they just don’t finish it because they keep tweaking it\ or they get cold feet about it, or they’re scared what other people will think, or whatever it is. Whatever the hang-up is, they just don’t finish it. I really think that’s such a thing with goal setting, and especially something to encourage kids or whatever stage in life you’re in, do that now, of like holding your attention till the end. The truth is, you’re always so excited about something in the beginning, and you’re not as excited about it in the middle and by the end, you’re probably either loving it or terrified that it’s not good enough or just all of the things. It’s a whole roller coaster, but it’s holding that attention and the ability to see something through. I think is kind of a big deal, which is what goal setting and achieving it, I suppose really is. That’s the skill. 

Elsie: Yeah, I completely agree. I think that setting the goals is fun and achieving the goals is obviously really fun. The middle of it is usually hard. I don’t think that you have to finish every goal like I don’t think you’re a loser if you decide that you don’t care about finishing one because honestly, that’s a part of how you learn what your true passions are. I think that in the middle even for a project that you know you really desperately want to finish, it’s still hard. Tell me about your first experience with setting a goal and achieving it and how it made you feel. 

Emma: I really wish I had something cool and artistic to mention here. But truthfully, the thing that comes to mind is I set this goal when I was in middle school to read the entire Bible, the Old and New Testament. Which is a really big book, at least at that age, I was like, oh no, I’ll never finish this. This will take forever.

Elsie: Let me explain something for people who have never read the whole Bible, especially as a child, because I did this too but I was in high school. I think maybe it was around the same time because we were always copying each other. We also did memorize a book of the Bible.

Emma: That was my next thing. Yeah. 

Elsie: Oh my God, so both of these things, it’s so much like, somebody is gonna be mad that I’m saying this but it is true, it is so much more boring than you think it is. Reading the Old Testament, sometimes there’s a whole page of just lineage. It’s not all stories at all. 

Emma: No, it’s not all stories.

Elsie: It’s actually really challenging to read the whole Bible. I feel like at the time I did it, just to, say I did it. Anyway, tell a little bit more about how hard it is. I think that if you only read select Bible stories, which most people have, then you don’t really know how long it actually is.

Emma: Yeah, I’ve also read things like The Iliad and The Odyssey, those are infinitely more interesting to read than the entire Bible. Those are actually a long, long story, even though they’re quite old and there are parts that are more tedious to read through, I suppose. The Bible is different because it is long passages just about lineage like this person begat this person. There’s also whole long sections that are just outdated laws and things that they were like putting communities together, and they were making up laws and things. They’re not interesting laws. They’re just like, kind of like boundary lines, and things of that nature. But for me, also, like, aside from just that, I kind of struggled in school, in elementary, in lower elementary, so I wasn’t a great reader. I didn’t think of myself as very good at school for a long time. I did try really hard at it but I just didn’t think of myself as a very strong reader. When I was little they would have different reading groups and I was always in the middle or lower reading group, I was never in the top. I always knew that. As a kid, you pick up on things/ I just didn’t think I was a strong reader. So it’s kind of like, planning to swim across a large body of water, when you’re not a strong swimmer. That was this goal to me was like, I’m not a strong reader but I’m gonna read the whole Bible. At that time in my life was very important to me, I wanted to read the entire thing so that was my goal. It both had to do with attention and like you said, being passionate about something and just seeing it through. By the end, I felt really proud because I wanted to read that book because it was important to me at that time in my life. Then also just the fact that I read a book that long. I was so proud. By the time I was done with that, I really was into reading so much more and reading like fun stuff.  Yeah, I’m really proud of it. I look back and I’m although you know, I feel differently about spiritual things or whatever than I did then which I think most people would say that generally. And we have a couple of podcast episodes about that which you can look up if you’d like.

Elsie: I mean, it has been more than 20 years. So I think it’s okay to be a different person than you used to be.

Emma: Yeah, definitely but those are some things that come to mind of a time that I set a goal and I wasn’t sure I would be able to do it, and then when I did achieve it, I felt so proud. It’s kind of like propelling me forward. Yeah, childhood stuff. What’s something like one of your first big goals when you’re an adult?

Elsie: Okay, so I think I shared this in my life map episode, but when I was in my early 20s, I had quit going to college and I was working, like kind of not great part-time jobs. I really wanted my job to be scrapbooking. I saw that people were doing that for money. I kind of didn’t care how much it was, I just wanted to do it. So one of my first goals as a young adult was to be published in a scrapbooking magazine and it took me about a year to do it, of sending in things. I sent things in the real mail too at first, I didn’t even do it through email like I sent it in the real mail. Anyway, I set the goal, and I spent like a year, sort of grinding on just posting little pictures of my scrapbooking pages and sending them out and trying to do something I wanted to do and then finally was able to do it. It became a career for a time. It was definitely a turning point for me because, anyone who didn’t finish college will relate with us and I think that if you didn’t have experience maybe it might be hard to relate to, but for me just like knowing that I could make as much money as I wanted with my own creative skills that I already had was an extremely empowering thing. It really started the rest of my whole career. 

Emma: Yeah, my first big goals as an adult were also in my life map episode. So we should definitely put those in the show notes in case people haven’t listened to it. Essentially, I didn’t really want to go to college. I wanted to move to LA to be an actor right after high school. But my parents really encouraged me to go to college, and I love my parents, so I did. But I decided to see if I could do it faster than four years. So my goal was to finish college basically as quick as I could. But once I mapped it out, I felt that I could finish in three years instead of four. My second goal with that was I was going to move to LA so I needed to save up money. So I wanted to save up $10,000 before I graduated college.

Elsie: That is amazing for that age. I never saved $10,000 when I was like 20 years old. That’s really cool.

Emma: Yeah, yeah. They were both goals that I felt I could do but they also took a lot of hard work and planning. I also wasn’t 100% like, this will be easy. No, I had to work really, really hard to do both of those things at the same time. I definitely didn’t spend very much of college like partying or whatever like other people. I just didn’t have time. It didn’t fit into my life.

Elsie: Yeah, you spent college working and going to extra College.

Emma: Yep, pretty much. 

Elsie: That makes sense.

Emma: So yeah, but I was really proud when I achieved those two things. I really felt like, I could do anything that I really wanted to do. Although I think there’s so many things you can’t control in life. It’s true. You can do anything that you really want to do that you set your heart on. It’s just there’s things you can’t control but you should definitely go for it. Definitely. Because I have certainly surprised myself many times in life. I think it’s exciting to think that I’m going to still have some of those in me and the rest of my life, like times I surprised myself. I hope.

Elsie: I feel just the same. I’m really grateful that at a young age, I had a chance to prove to myself that I could do something that seemed impossible or seemed difficult or the other people were doubting that I could complete from the beginning. As we got older that belief, that established belief, that we knew we could do something harder, challenging, or something that took a lot of steps or a big investment of time paid off so much. So yeah, I hope that everyone, no matter where you are, if you haven’t had a chance yet to just prove to yourself that first time then I think that it is such an important step and so worthwhile to set a goal that feels just a little bit too big. Then do it. 

Emma: Yeah, absolutely. 

Elsie: Okay. So I was thinking I called this episode of Deep Dive, I divided it into three sections one is zooming in. So planning a quarter, or we like the 12 Week Year is also what that’s called. We’ll talk a little bit about that. Then zooming out making a five-year plan, I think that’s something we get a lot of questions about and I know it’s something that a lot of people feel like, it’s hard to envision yourself in five years, or it’s hard to know what kind of goal do I need that much time to do like. Setting goals that are only for the next few months is very normal. So being able to zoom out is a great skill for goal setting. Then the last one we’re going to talk about is just little tips that work for us personally when we’re setting and completing goals. So I’ll talk about my reward system. When we talk about making a five-year plan that is completely interchangeable with a 10-year plan, it could even be a 20-year plan, if that’s what you feel like you need right now. You can plan kind of like any length of time the same way as this. You can also make it shorter. I think at least five years is what you should do and here’s why. You can always change your mind. You can always course correct, pivot, have a big life change, and reevaluate your goals. I do that almost every year. That is really, really normal, especially in these uncertain times. Things do happen that are very surprising. Maybe you become a parent or maybe you completely change careers, and a lot of your goals don’t apply to you anymore and that is totally normal. The thing is, is that making the plan is never a wasted exercise because you’ll have a foundation or a basis at least. You’ll have something that you know you need to update or change at least you’ll have some vision for the future, a starting point. So I think if you’ve never done it before, just think of it as a starting point. If it’s hard for you to envision where you want to be in five or ten years, that probably means that you’re the perfect person to do this exercise.

Emma: Yeah, I also think of it as just like you are exercising a muscle and the muscle is dreaming. Some people naturally dream a lot, Elsie I think you’re like this, maybe a lot of Enneagram sevens are I’m not sure I only know a few but I would say most of them are like this, they dream big. That’s one thing I love about working with you and love about being around you is you’re constantly new things and new projects, and you’re excited to learn stuff. It makes me more excited. But some other people and this plays an integral term, and it also doesn’t, whatever but if you’re not accustomed to dreaming a lot, then this is a really important exercise. It’s just a muscle that you need to grow within yourself. Making that five-year plan, even if it drastically, drastically changes in another month because something unexpected happens, it’s still just like forcing yourself to like think of big things you want and big things that you might go for even though they may be a little bit scary or you’re not sure you can make them happen. Just dream because it’s a really useful skill to have.

Elsie: Yeah, I think that it’s also a tool for self-discovery because realizing where you’re trying to go, that will affect your three-month plan and what you want to do right now. Especially if you realize that you’re not as far along on something as you want to be, which is really normal to feel that way and to feel even like a little bit deflated when you set the five-year goal and you’re like, but I’m not even close. But I think that it’s so important because to not have any five-year goal, that’s the kind of thing where you wake up and you’re like, oh sh*t, I wish I would have done this by now. It’s like something that you totally would have worked on if you would have just made it a little like a small priority, not even a big priority. So anyway, let’s explain how we make a five-year plan. Like I said before, you can do this for 10 years, you can do it for any length of time, that’s perfect for you. For me, I think I’m really comfortable with the 10 years right now because I’m in the phase of life where I’ve little kids. I know in 10 years of teenager kids, which is basically their whole rest of their childhood is 10 more years from beginning to end so that’s a good length for me and everyone’s different. So this is basically just a journaling prompt. So all you need is a journal, just write a page where I want to be in five years and make it like if your life has like two or three big passions or sections, then do one for each of those. For me, it would be like family stuff, career stuff, and creative stuff and I know that in 10 years  I will be in a very different place. I want to be more developed in all those areas. I want to make sure that I am shifting my priorities as I go along not to miss out on something because of just poor planning. After you’ve like, got the idea of where you want to be then it’s very easy to work backward and think like, maybe in the next two years, I want to do this and in the next five years, I want to do this.

Elsie: Yeah, I agree. You can put other categories like I think the ones you put were family, career, and creative. But you can put other ones too like maybe you want to have fitness, maybe you want to have spirituality.

Elsie: Traveling. 

Emma: Yeah, finances, maybe you’re in a place where you really want to change.

Elsie: That is a good one because you can do a lot in five years.

Emma: Yes, you can do that and that’s really the thing that’s exciting about doing a five-year plan is you can do a lot in five years, you can do more than you think. So you can not be afraid to dream really, really big. Okay, let’s talk about zoom in because I think you do the five-year plan first. Then like Elsie said, you can kind of back up from there and figure out smaller and smaller things. We recommend planning, like Elsie said, quarterly, so, three months or 12 weeks. The reason being is, if you’ve listened to this podcast for any amount of time, you might know that I don’t love New Year’s resolutions because I feel like a year is a weird amount of time. It’s like just long enough that I think you might lose interest in something. It’s kind of hard to stay focused for that amount of time. You might make too small of a goal and accomplish it quickly and then you’re like what I do the rest of the year.

Elsie: So in the 12 week year, they specifically say that the reason why New Year’s goals are often not successful, is because people feel like they have too long to do it. When you do the quarterly goals, especially when it’s a big one, then you can have bad days where you didn’t do your thing for that day, but you can’t really have like a bad month, or you won’t get your goal done. So it kind of just like creates more urgency and that’s why I like it.  I also like New Year’s goals a little bit but I think that quarterly goals are much more important and work much better. They’re just more practical.

Emma: I agree. I make goals every three months, and I often have little goals that are just this month, I’m really focused on this, or whatever, that kind of feed into that whole thing. Because to me, that’s really what it is, is like once you have this big, big goal, you make it small, small, small, tiny, tiny steps, little bitty. If you’re looking at it like a giant cake, it’s like how can I eat this, it’s like one bite at a time.

Elsie: So yeah, we definitely recommend the book the 12 Week Year, it is probably the best goal-setting book I’ve ever read. It’s extremely good. So one of the things I liked about the 12 week year is, this is highly specific to what your goal is. I think this works really great for creative projects and stuff is that you score yourself every day. So pretty much in your planner, you score yourself like one to ten, and a ten is like I did awesome. One is like I kinda tried, but I kind of didn’t. So the scoring thing, I like it because you can look back and see, like, did I try hard this month. Obviously, it only works if you’re being honest and it only works if it’s something that you’re comfortable scoring your effort on and all that.  I think that for a lot of projects, you’re not going to work like a 10 out of 10 every day. That’s like a big part of the book that I liked is that they say like, you don’t have to be a 10 out of 10 every day, you can only do 80% of the days and still achieve your goal in the end. So that made me feel like just a lot of hope because I can be kind of a perfectionist about goals. Someone who like if I say that I’m going to do something every day, and then I miss a day it kind of messes me up. I think this kind of thing helps to not have such a stringent attitude about something. I mean, that’s like a very self-defeating attitude.

Emma: I also think it just helps you change your mindset to a more sustainable thing where it’s more about consistency. It’s more about, I’d like to do this thing every day for 30 days and then at the end of the month, you look at your chart, and you did it for 20 days. It’s like that would still look really filled in. You still did a really good job so you’re being pretty consistent. But those 10 days that you did miss because maybe you felt off, maybe you were sick, maybe your kid was sick, bah, bah, bah, bah, bah, you know, like,

Elsie: All of our examples are about our kids being sick. Guess why?

Emma: Right. Yeah. But it’s like you can kind of like let it go more easily because it’s like, you very quickly have given yourself the permission of like, that’s okay. This day sucked, moving on next day, a new chance and you really have to have that mindset because it is about the marathon, the whole thing. It’s not just one particular day.

Elsie: That’s a winning attitude.

Emma: Well, do you have any little tips or tricks for things?

Elsie: Yes. So I have two main tricks. My first one is to journal. I think that when I’m journaling about my goals, even if it’s like once a week. It doesn’t have to be daily. It doesn’t have to be on any strict schedule, but just to keep up with how I’m feeling about how I’m doing is important, especially to catch myself when I’m starting to get discouraged, or when I need to sort of like change my approach a little bit, which is very normal. It’s very normal to be like, 25% through a goal and be like, is this even worth it? Because a lot of times that’s the hard part, right. So anyway, journaling a little bit even once in a while works really well for me. The other thing is, I love rewards. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It only has to be something that you will only buy when you are rewarding yourself. Like something that’s kind of special but it doesn’t have to be expensive. It doesn’t I even think that it doesn’t matter if it’s expensive. Just some examples, like getting a manicure like I don’t usually do that. But when I do it feels really special and it’s a very easy thing to put down as a reward. Getting a massage, I don’t usually do that, love doing it doesn’t usually make the time. It can seriously be anything. But anyway, it works really well for me and if you’re motivated by little gifts, it will probably work for you.

Emma: I love that. So here’s a trick I do whenever I’m in the middle of a goal, but I’m kind of losing momentum, or what I really do is I call it snowballing where I’ve kind of like failed at a couple of things or I didn’t do, if it’s a creative project, maybe it’s turning out in a way where I’m like, is this sh*t? Am I an idiot? Am I a loser? Is everyone gonna think I’m dumb?

Elsie: There’s always that stage where you look at your work and you’re like, this isn’t a masterpiece.

Emma: Exactly. Yes, and you’re so disappointed. So whenever I’m kind of in that phase, and it could be a work thing where I’m like, oh, I’m too stupid to own a business. I have lots of moments like that where I’m like, I don’t know what I’m doing and I start to kind of snowball in my head. So here’s what I do when I’m in that place is like I’ve realized over the years, what I really need to do is just kind of stop that and change the momentum. That’s all I need to do just stop snowballing change the momentum. So what I do is I tell myself, what is one small thing I could do today to move towards my goal. Sometimes this is as simple as send an email, add two lines to the chapter, or whatever. Look up, it might even be like a research thing, it could be anything. But just one small thing that moves me towards and when I accomplish that, then I’m like, alright, you moved a little bit more towards your goal. For me, it’s like so basic and little, but it just like makes me stop doing my little pity party or my snowball of anxiety and self-hate, whatever it is, and move back to doing stuff to accomplish what I’m wanting to accomplish, even if it’s small. It has to be small because I’m usually in a place at that moment where I have like, kind of low self-esteem. I’m like, I don’t know if I can do anything so it’s got to be something where it’s like, you can definitely do it. Then once you do it, you can see hey, you did that thing you moved a little bit closer. Now you can do one more small thing. Now maybe you can do a medium-small thing like it just gets you back on track.

Elsie: I love that. That’s a really good tip.

Emma: Listener question.

Elsie: Okay, the listener question is, is there a style totally different from what you currently have that you would like to try? I thought this was such a fun question. Okay, I think that what I would like to do someday is a really dark house like a moody house. You know my haunted Airbnb idea, I think that someday I would like to do something that’s not all white and happy looking. I think there’s a piece of me that sees that and I’m attracted to it. What about you?

Emma: Yeah, that’s interesting. I’ve tried to think of anything that I don’t like, but there are some things I probably am not going to try because they just don’t fit into my lifestyle, either home or fashion. But I think with fashion, I guess here’s what I’ll say on it is, so we’ve talked before in the past about The Curated Closet. I did The Curated Closet workbook some years ago and got to a place where I feel like I have all the basics I really want. I feel like it’s really easy for me to get dressed every day. I feel pretty happy with my outfits every single day. I didn’t feel that way before. I felt really lost. So now I’m kind of in this place where every now and again, I see something trendy, and I just want to try it because I kind of like have my baseline of stuff and I’m like this is generally my style, and I’m not really deviating a ton. But I think I will get this weird jacket or Elsie was trolling me about my fuzzy bucket hat this year. 

Elsie: I love the bucket hat. 

Emma: Yeah, it’s actually really cute I think.

Elsie: It’s so much fun to think about and I think that for the record appreciating and loving and being a fan of styles that you would never try is cool too.

Emma: Yeah. Totally.

Elsie: That’s funny. It’s so much fun to think about, and I think that for the record, appreciating and loving and being a fan of styles that you would never try is cool too. I don’t think that like for me, I don’t have to try it or think that it would work for me to be a fan of it.  

Emma: Oh, yeah, totally. 

Elsie: This is a really embarrassing story but it’s not embarrassing to me now. I love it now, but at the time, it was like you’ll see. 

Emma: Okay, I’m ready. 

Elsie: Okay, so I want to say that I was between the grades of seventh and eighth grade, I went on an overnight camping trip with my youth group. So I was kind of new to being junior high age, and I might have even been in seventh grade. I was still in my extremely awkward phase and just trying to figure out what kind of teenager I wanted to be like, that’s a thing. Some kids take a couple of years to figure it out and I was that kid.  I went on this camping trip with my church friends and I don’t remember anything about it except for this moment. So the morning that we woke up, you wake up from camping, this is gonna be a polarizing statement. For me waking up camping is one of the worst feelings in the world. When you wake up in the sweaty tent, and you don’t have your normal sink and face stuff and just like comforts of life. I don’t like camping. I’m not a big camping person or outdoorsy if you can tell. So got out of the tent went over and sat by the fire. I don’t think there was a fire going, it was morning time but sat around tree stumps around a fire area. There was this cute boy in high school and then two, I must have been in seventh grade, because I think there were two 8th grade girls talking to him. 

Emma: Okay. 

Elsie: They were sort of like, cool or I felt they were. So anyway, what he said to them was, you know what, you guys shouldn’t be trying so hard to be pretty. I can tell you woke up and you put makeup on your face and you look really good. You should look like Elsie and then he pointed at me. And he said, you see how her face looks really plain right now. That’s how your face should look. 

Emma: Nice. 

Elsie: And of course, I was just like, oh God. So yeah, that’s my embarrassing story for the day and it’s still haunting me.

Emma: I feel like this is more of an embarrassing story for this young man. Didn’t know that he should not say, look at this girl and her plain face.

Elsie: Right. It’s really rude. But I also think it’s really awesome. 

Emma: Yeah, it’s really funny. Nice. Book report time.

Elsie: So this book report is about Playing Big by Tara Mohr. So when I read this book, I think it was like last September, it was instantly life-changing. I would say it was the most life-changing book I’ve ever read. I love this personal development category for a lot of years it was like the only books I read were from this category.  Okay, since this is nonfiction, I don’t think there’s any spoilers. I think that if you haven’t listened to it yet, and you’re planning to you can still listen to this whole segment. I think it’ll make you want to listen to the book even more because it’s a highly personal book for your own journey. There’s journaling prompts and there’s lots of things that you’ll get different things out of it than we did. So for the synopsis, I pulled a little thing from the book that explains itself. Playing big is about bridging the gap between what we see in you and what you know about yourself. It’s a practical guide to moving past self-doubt and creating what you most want to create. This book, I think it has so many different sections that I think are super valuable and super interesting. Okay, so a listener wrote in and she said that she felt kind of hesitant to read the book because she is a stay-at-home mom, she doesn’t have a career right now at all. She’s not trying to like that’s not her season of life right now. She said that sometimes this category of books can make her feel kind of bad about herself. She said that she did end up reading it and that she got a lot out of it. I thought that that was really cool because I guess I hadn’t thought about that. Like how if sometimes you’re not in a place where you can be a super achiever at that exact moment, and seeing super achieving all around you or reading about it or hearing about it can be kind of deflating. So yeah, that makes sense. But I felt like this book had a lot of career stuff in it but what I got out of it was mostly personal stuff. So it was kind of interesting, I guess, maybe it’s like the kind of thing where you get out of it, the thing you need from it.

Emma: Yeah, I don’t think you have to be mainly career-driven to enjoy this book. I definitely think it speaks to just generally living a happy life and getting over self-doubt and some of those things. She very quickly gets into talking about your inner critic, which I was very familiar with, already knew her already pretty used to hearing her voice in my ear. Then she talks quite a bit about your inner mentor and getting to know them, and understanding that side of you too. I really enjoyed that a lot. I think all those like creepy little doubts that come into your head that are like, you’re not good enough, or that’s not a very good idea, or you don’t want to seem too uppity so don’t interrupt anyone in this meeting and put forth your ideas unless you’re asked or whatever. All those little things that go through your mind. For whatever reason, at least for me, those come very naturally, but listening to this other part of me, that’s like, kind of the, she’s very peaceful. She’s farther ahead in life so she’s wiser. But she’s still inside of me right now, too. Giving her more space to speak and basically say, but what if it turns out great, but what if it’s a great idea? I think I really enjoyed getting to know that side of myself more.

Elsie: Yeah, I felt exactly the same way. So I thought it was really interesting how she was talking about how a lot of people get hung up wanting to find a mentor because I have had that hang-up before. I think that that makes sense. As someone who is now somewhat farther along in my career, but also a busy mom, I think that it’s too much to ask to wait for someone to come along and be a mentor for you. It’s just like, not always possible.  So I loved her concept of giving you, your inner mentor is already in there, it’s a part of yourself, that you can tap into that you can visit anytime you want. I found the exercises extremely powerful. Something that worked that I didn’t know could work. But I think not having that expectation of, finding the perfect mentor is a really great thing to just let go of and not wait around for. 

Emma: I love her getting you to get to know your inner mentor because it’s going to be more helpful. Even if you do find someone who’s very willing to talk to you who is farther along and you also are willing to do that for someone else, whatever. I still don’t think that’s going to end up being as powerful as having your inner mentor become to life more inside of you, because they’re going to really know what you’re actually going through. They’re going to be able to kind of talk to you in the moment as you’re going through it and no other person is going to be able to do that. That’s not possible like just literally logistical not possible even if they were very committed to being your mentor. It’s still just not going to happen. 

Elsie: So the future self visualization. Let’s talk about that first because it happens right away in chapter two. Let me just quickly explain what it is. So it is a 10 minute long guided meditation. If you listen to the audiobook, which I definitely recommend that it’s just like in there, already included. I think that there’s a way to listen to it from her website.

Emma: So in a nutshell, what it is, is you’re going to visualize yourself twenty years into the future. The idea being this is your inner mentor and it’s you but it’s also like a different version of you. So it might have a different name, this person. They might look very different from you or they might look very similar to you, but they are kind of you twenty years from now. She gets you to kind of see their life. See what house they’re living in, what does it feel like? What does it look like? What do they look like? What kinds of things do they wear? Do they seem like they’re happy, peaceful, fit, whatever, like anything like that? Then as you get to know them, you ask this person questions. It’s a bit woo-woo. If you have never done any kind of guided meditation, you need to open your mind and heart to it, because it’s definitely the beginning starts with there’s a beam of light coming out of your forehead, like this is a part of it. So you need to kind of go there with it, or it’s not gonna probably be very beneficial to you. But it’s you twenty years in the future.

Elsie: So for people who have never done a guided meditation, I had never done one at that point either and I had to try it a couple of times. Because it was really hard for me to sort of let go of control of my imagination, how she’s describing what you’re supposed to do, just like did not come naturally to me. So I just did it a couple of times and then I eventually feel like I had a good outcome that I was satisfied with. Then I did it again recently when I was preparing for this episode and it was even a little bit different. And it’s been maybe not even six months but I got like a couple of new things that were different from the first experience, but still somewhat similar. So we love this exercise. I think that most people who have been DMing me who have read the book have said this is their favorite part of the book. It’s just like, crazy, powerful, weird, and interesting. For people who don’t, or you’re afraid of aging, or you just don’t think of yourself in 20 years, I think that it’s powerful in that way too, to see a wonderful future for yourself. 

Emma: So I’ve only done it once so far and I agree with Elsie, I’d really like to do it again. So I’ll tell you my experience of doing it the one time and you’ll kind of understand why. So I didn’t know exactly what it was gonna be and I very much was like, I’m gonna be completely open to this and just go wherever. I really think if you just kind of follow a voice when you’re doing some kind of guided thing like this like you can really open your mind up so I was just doing that. I didn’t know ahead of time that it was gonna be visiting ourselves twenty years in the future. You get the beam of light, you go, you’re following it and all this. Then you land where you’re meeting yourself twenty years in the future. I just like very immediately started bawling because I realized that my son Oscar will be almost twenty-one at the time that I was meeting this woman, me twenty years in the future. It just weighed so both heavy and wonderful on my heart that his childhood was over that I had already experienced that because I have been looking forward to being a mom for a long time. I’m really looking forward to his whole childhood. I’m loving it so far. He’s only eight months but I’m loving it. So the idea of like, oh, this person’s already gone through it was both terrifying and filled me with curiosity, both of those things at the same time. I kind of couldn’t get past that. So that was most of what I experienced in my first time doing this. Then the other thing was the gift. When I was leaving, what she gave me in my visualization is a crystal ball that looked kind of like in Harry Potter when Dumbledore takes memories out of his brain, and they like swirl around like liquid silver. It was filled with those and it was filled with all the memories of Oscar’s childhood, like all the things that we’re going to do together these next ten, fifteen, twenty years. Twenty is kind of I mean, he could be an adult when he’s twenty. But you know, you know what I’m saying? That was the gift that I received. I don’t really feel like I necessarily got the thing that she was aiming for out of this first-time visualization. But the thing I took away that felt important to me, was it made me feel like I’m very much on track and doing the thing I’m supposed to be doing right now. Which is enjoying my son and really enjoying his childhood and being present for it, because I realized, like how important it’s going to be to me. That was the gift she gave me was all of this that she had experienced. So I just am like, really looking forward to being present. If I have days where I need to work a couple more hours than I was wanting to, and it eats into my time with him or whatever, like, that’s fine but I’m very, like, aware and conscious of I want to really enjoy this time because it’s long, but it’s gonna go by.

Elsie: It’s both for sure. So my twenty years in the future character is sort of like me, like a combination of like me and my mom but she’s very goth. She has very all black clothes. The things that I wrote down this time, like, the advice was that nothing creative is ever wasted so follow every creative spark, which is something that I struggle with because I can be like, am I wasting time. This season in my life, I never get to do all the things I want to do on my list because time is pretty scarce. So if I get the feeling that I’m wasting creative time, a lot of times it panics me and I’ll just skip to the next thing. I’m not really like enjoying like quality, you know what I mean? Like just making stuff to make.  Then my gift this time was, the first time it was a book that I wrote, which was so cool because I did not know at that time that I was gonna write more books and I didn’t want to. The second time, it was this stack of journals, filled up journals. That makes me feel like that’s like my next couple of years now. It felt very meaningful and very special. So some of the things that challenged me or that I thought were really great about the book, I really liked the chapter about unhooking from praise and criticism. I think that that is so valuable for all of us all the time, no matter what stage of life we’re in. It’s not something I was aware of growing up, but then the internet can make you like brutally aware. I really liked the chapter about leaping. I think that it’s really hard to do something that you know you’re not going to be great at. You know that you should just do it but you know that you’re opening yourself up to criticism or embarrassment, or any other negative thing, failure because you know that you’re not as good as you need to be to achieve the final outcome that you want. Probably my most challenging chapter that I felt is a weakness for me and something I need to work on is the communicating with power chapter.  Since reading the chapter on communicating with power, I’m definitely using less of what she calls the hedges, which are like when you say I kind of feel like, I almost think, I just think and you’re kind of making what you really want to say smaller to make it more comfortable for the person listening. It’s almost like a mini apology worked in there. I feel like I’ve almost completely stopped apologizing before asking for something that I need or delivering bad news. That is a really hard habit to break or it was for me. I am really proud of it. That’s probably the one that I’ve made the most progress on since I first read the book. I think if you’re a person who apologizes like I apologize to people who pass me in the store. I just apologize for everything very freely all the time and I definitely don’t mean it.  I think a lot of women are ultra apologizers. I actually know a lot of men who are too, like ultra apologizing is pretty common. She specifically says you can’t fix all these things at once. You have to do one at a time. So I know it’s something I’ll be working on for a while. But now that I have at least fixed one or two of them. I feel like there’s hope.

Emma: Yeah, got the ball rolling.

Elsie: The last section I wanted to talk about is the section on callings. So this one was really powerful for me as well. It’s not a visualization exercise, but she gives you all these like questions, and you kind of it once you answer them all you kind of like know what you’re circling. So I don’t know if anyone can relate with this but when I first read this book, I felt desperate for a vision of the future. Desperate for what’s next in my life. Just because of the particular stage where I’m at right now in my life. I was having sort of a really sad few months of just feeling like everything exciting that I looked forward to my whole life is behind me. I wrote about it in therapy, and then our friend Steffy wrote a blog post, I’m gonna link that in the show notes. It was really interesting. It was about being an influencer when you feel like there’s no big things anymore. It’s like, you get married, you get engaged, you start a business, you have a baby, you have another baby but then after that, what? Then you’re not even 40 and you’re like, I really don’t know, I didn’t think this far ahead. I can’t see anything. I just think, okay, I guess I’ve done everything on my list. But a couple of things she said about finding your next calling that I thought were just really cool and a way to feel if it really is your calling is like one, you think that your calling sounds too big or unrealistic. I think a lot of people feel that one where you’re like, I couldn’t, I can’t, how could I, I don’t have time. You don’t see all the little steps to get there so you don’t believe that you could get from here to there. Then another one was that the calling feels too small, too selfish, or frivolous. Which is something that I’ve definitely struggled with in my career. I think that it’s like, everyone knows that it’s technically okay, to be an entertainer. I sometimes think of ourselves as entertainers, it sometimes feels kind of pointless if you position it in a certain way. But then if you position in other ways, like we know, from our side of it can be like really meaningful. We’re basically best friends with our whole podcast audience every single week and keeping each other company and it does go both ways. Because the messages people send me every week are really meaningful. But anyway, sometimes I can look at it on a bad day, or in a weird moment, right after I got some kind of weird comment and feel like what we do is small and pointless. It’s not like changing the world in the way that you think you should be.

Emma: I actually have a lot of people on my vision board who I kind of like to picture them in those seasons too. It’s actually really easy to minimize a lot of people, especially creative people like I love Jim Henson. I think Muppets are incredible. I grew up watching Fraggle Rock and there’s so many like lessons from it, but it’s also just like, basically comedy for kids. I don’t know, I just think it’s so easy to minimize if you want. But it’s more interesting, I think, to think what could this be? Where could this lead? How could this make a difference? Because not all of us are going to have like, oh, we’re all meant to be this lawyer who saves the world. That’s not the skill set of all of us. Some of us do puppets. Okay. So how can you take that and change the world and people who do that, who take puppets and change the world, or whatever it is, Jim Henson had puppets, that’s incredible to me. That’s an interesting calling. So I’m like, well, how can we take what we do making crafts and making stuff at home and how can we impact the world for the better with that. I think that’s much more interesting than being like, oh, I should just stop doing this stupid thing and just do something else, I guess.

Elsie: No, that’s beautiful, Emma. I love how you said that, makes me feel really inspired. I think that that’s a really beautiful way to think about it. I loved the book, obviously, I hope that everyone who read it loved it. I’m going to post on Instagram today, a picture of the book so we can do more discussion there. I would love to chat back and forth about anything you learned. I would love to hear whatever you’re comfortable sharing. For me, it’s like the perfect book of everything I needed to hear right now. I hope that a few other people had that same experience as well.

Emma: Thanks so much for listening. If you’re not already, please subscribe just so these will show up for you. If you have a friend who you think would enjoy the podcast, tell them to subscribe. That’s kind of the number one way that we grow is by word of mouth and you telling your friends if you think it’s something they would like, so that means a lot to us if you would. Bye

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  • Love this episode! I have been feeling a little lost lately, especially in terms of my career and personal goals. This was exactly what I needed to hear! <3

  • Loved this podcast episode and always love hearing how you set goals and how you both work on them constantly. It’s so easy to see your success and think it “just happened”. Appreciate your taking us behind the curtain so much to see what it takes to be successful but also encouraging us all to go for it in our own lives. 🙂 Which also leads me to say that what you’re doing at ABM is so valuable, especially in these dark and challenging times. I really look forward to the podcast your daily blog posts.

  • Hi Elsie and Emma! Just came here to say that I think you two would really love Notion!!!! Get them to sponsor y’all lol! Michelle Kanemitsu on YouTube has Notion videos posted and shares her templates for free (and other people like Jules Acree and TwirlingPages). I use it for EVERYTHING – tracking my goals, habit tracking, agenda for work etc. and it has helped me stay focused. Before, I tried using a print agenda/planner and just found it hard to find exactly what I wanted. Then I started bullet journaling but found it took too much time and I felt pressure to make it cute and write things in perfectly. Having a digital planner on Notion is perfect because I can just create the exact thing that works for me, copy and paste and drag items around, and I can create template buttons where I just click to put a new blank week/month/whatever in! Saves so much time and keeps me spending that time on my goals instead!

  • I loved this episode so much I immediately went to listen again right after I finished it. I really feel like I need to absorb and apply everything in this episode and it was a good pick me up episode. I kind of realized that I am someone who truly doesn’t really believe in myself or that I can accomplish goals and so Elsie saying to pick a goal that feels just a little bit out reach made me think I could pick anything. Lol. I didn’t finish reading the book club pick but I did do the visualization. I dont feel like I got much out of it other than imagining myself living a modern cabin in the woods by the ocean. She seemed warm and calm and at peace.

  • I always enjoy your goal setting podcasts!! I have always been so impressed by how much both of you achieve so it’s really inspiring but also feels accessible.

    On the listener style question—I also felt really good about my basic wardrobe but wanted to step it up a bit… last year I started using the clothing rental service Nuuly and it has been SO FUN. I highly recommend it for anyone looking to try trends or more bold style choices without having to invest a ton of money. (this totally sounds like an ad or paid promo but i promise it’s not, i just can’t shut up about how much i’ve loved renting fun clothes 😜)

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