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Thursday, January 7, 2016

New Year's Inspirations Part 1: Being Real with Your Goals and Yourself (and being OK with that)

The beginning of a new year usually has us dreaming big, setting goals, and making resolutions for the year ahead. And let's face it, we usually don't make it past the first or second month of the year or we stress ourselves out trying to reach goals that are just not realistic. Instead of talking about resolutions, I wanted to talk about how we can live this year with intent and be present in our choices and actions and be OK with how things turn out. How we can reflect on the year ahead and make small choices in our daily lives, to  set realistic expectations for ourselves and appreciate what we accomplished in a day rather than stress about what we didn't. And let's face it, with kids in tow sometimes just having a shower and brushing our teeth feels like it's worth celebrating, right?! To help me start this year off right, I've asked some ladies who embody this attitude to share their tips on how to set realistic goals/ expectations for ourselves in the year ahead; what I'm calling New Year's Inspirations. 

First up I've got the dynamic duo behind the incredible The Mamas Project, Jena & Sarah of Pacific North Photography. ER nurses with a passion for photography, these ladies have turned up the volume on the conversation about what motherhood really looks like, in all of it's messy, imperfect glory. Sharing about the challenges and truths of motherhood with honesty and a sense of humour, I thought they'd be perfect to start off 2016 on TPB. See below for Jena & Sarah's advice. <3

What do you think the difference is between setting goals and setting resolutions for the New Year? Do you think one is better than the other? 
Jena- I think goals and resolutions are different. And both have value. Goals are outcome oriented. You may set a goal like: workout three times a week, the object of which is to complete that. A resolution to me is more of a frame of mind change. A resolve to change a way of being or doing, it may not be measurable in a tangible sense.
Sarah- I feel setting goals leads to a successful outcome more so than a resolution because you need a plan. Often resolutions are things you’d like to change and are less concrete with no definitive end goal, but personally knowing you’ve accomplished when reflected upon.

How do you like to plan for the year ahead? Do you set goals/ make resolutions?
Sarah- I do. I think resolutions and goal setting is important for different reasons. It can be small or big change your looking for, but I always feel the need to push forward, improve or strive for something, whether it’s a fitness goal or relationship resolution to say, “let it goooo” to the small stuff. Pun intended.
Jena- In the past, I have started the year with set goals, things that come to mind at the end of the year. Usually, I come to the ideas because it was something I wish I had done the year before and didn’t for whatever reason do. This year I’m approaching things differently. Rather than setting goals, I’m thinking of the qualities I want to see in myself for 2016. And not having set expectations about achieving specific things, rather, making a conscious effort to be a certain way and approach life in a way that conveys that.

How do you try and make each day the best you can?
Sarah- Being with and taking care of my kids is the most important thing I do each day, teaching, playing, laughing, and giving cuddles. So I always try and make our time count. It can be something so simple, like being building parking garages with my toddler (for his millions of cars + trucks) or sitting to read a book or sing a song with my littlest babe. It’s tough some days. Some weeks. But a positive attitude, sense of humour and, close friends (like Jena) help turn things around when I feel I’ve fallen off track, to make it happen.

Jena- It’s a struggle. Some days I can do so without a second thought. Other days, I have to say to myself: today I will not worry/ whine/ complain, I will be present. But generally I think my best days are when I let go of caring what I should be doing or what people think and just live in the moment.

How do you face challenges that have you re- thinking your plans? Do you have an experience you can share?
Sarah- Well, when this happens (ALL THE TIME). I just talk it out. With my best friend, husband, sometimes, just talking out loud to someone helps me realize the outcome I wasn’t expecting isn’t so bad, maybe even better.
It took going through the same challenge, TWICE, to finally be at peace (most of the time) with the outcome. Living in a 2 bedroom, 715 sq ft. condo and pregnant with my first, I was adamant we had time to find a larger home and absolutely refused to live in that space with a baby. Then 35 weeks pregnant came and we realized that wasn’t going to happen. I had no choice to make it work, and while we continued to look, we settled in and it worked well for us. I didn’t actually hate it. Sure, some things I’d like, say, a backyard, but I had everything I needed. Then pregnancy two came. Okay, we made one work, but two kids in this space! I’m sure most think we are crazy but here we actually like it (most of the time).  Funny how you think you NEED something when you really don’t.
Jena- Day by day. I’ve learned as a parent, just when you think you have a plan in place, things change. So don’t put all your eggs in one basket, don’t invest your happiness in one outcome. You’ll be better prepared to adapt when things change.

How do you keep yourself positive in your daily life?
Sarah- Good question. Mostly it’s an active decision to be happy. Things that help; fresh air, being outside, being with friends, solo time, and seeing joy on my kid’s faces. It’s about making things I love a priority.
Jena- Happiness for me is a balance, between a healthy, happy family and a healthy happy me. For me that means exercise, mental stimulation, creative outlets, and lots of social friend time!

How do you think being 'Mom' impacts how we set our goals and work towards them?
Sarah- Goals and resolutions reflect more on family as a whole as opposed to just myself
Jena- Well, for me becoming a mom changed everything. My outlook, my activites, my relationships with people around me. So naturally, my end goal daily goals have changed too.

Do you think we put too much pressure on ourselves to live up to unrealistic expectations?
Sarah- No one is perfect and honestly, I’ve learned the most from failure (so hard to say that word though!). So it depends what you consider unrealistic, well no, I probably won’t fly to the moon, but anything is game if you want it bad enough. It’s more about the will and confidence to follow through.
Jena- In fact, my resolution this year is to do that less. So I'll let you know when and if I succeed!

What tips/ advice would you offer to ladies heading into the new year to help them live with purpose/ work towards goals (and not drive themselves crazy while trying)?
Sarah- Your goals don’t have to be crazy. But even if you don’t meet your goals when you’d like, just pause and see how far you’ve come. You can learn a lot from what doesn’t work and turn that around to be a success.
Jena- At the heart of living with purpose, is being happy. Don’t forget about yourself in the grand scheme of family, work, whatever is in your life. Do you. 'Cause everyone suffers when you don’t. And in saying that, surround yourself with people who let you thrive.

Favourite quotes:
Sarah- When I was a bit of a lost soul (mid twenties), I went traveling and kept a journal. This quote was inside that journal and it’s stuck with me since:
“I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving -- we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it -- but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor.” – Oliver Wendell Holmes

Jena- I'm sure I could Google something more profound, but I have always loved the words of a former employer of mine. A woman with Parkinson’s who I worked for before I got into nursing:
“I can and I will.”

A big thanks to Jena & Sarah for sharing their thoughts and family photos. To learn about The Mamas Project & see more of their work, visit the Pacific North Photography website.
Give them some love and check them out on social media: 
Pacific North Photography- Facebook | Instagram
The Mamas Project- Facebook | Instagram 

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