What would be the icing on your cake in 2017? You’ll have a better chance of achieving more meaningful goals if you understand what your ‘why’ is first, says Fiona Blayney.
They always look so good in the pictures, don’t they? Painstakingly put together over countless hours, no doubt by extreme professionals, and of course beautifully photographed. You buy the exact ingredients, follow the instructions to the tee, but alas the homemade birthday cake never looks quite the same as the picture.
We’ve become quite obsessed with birthday cakes in our family. Not the store-bought variety, but old-school cakes. You know the ones: the train, the swimming pool, the doll. My kids are not unlike 7-year-old you; our Women’s Weekly Birthday Book is well thumbed, covered in flour and stuck together with sticky tape where a tug-of-war has ensued in the search for the next creation. With my baking skills at such a level that I was glad to be able to say, “The kids and I made this”, it was clear I needed some improvement in the cake decorating department, and so it became time to add to the goals for the year ‘make great icing’.
As most of us are only too aware, goals make up much of our life. In fact, most hours, days, weeks and months are filled with goals. On any given day at my place it’s a goal to simply make it out the front door on time! At this time of year we find ourselves discussing goals on a larger scale: the goals for the year ahead.
If you’re like me, you’ll be setting goals in all areas of your life. The difference, perhaps, is in our approach. I continue to be surprised by the process that many people go through when setting goals, especially when achievement, or lack of it, has such an impact on our lives. At times I’ve been known to write a list of goals for the year that would be difficult to achieve in a decade, let alone 12 months. The goals are wide and varied and impossible to bring to reality simultaneously within budget, time and energy constraints. I have become more and more aware over the years of establishing a clear set of goals for the year ahead based upon one principle: the goals I actually want to achieve. Maybe if we all did the same we’d be happier and more fulfilled.
You’re probably thinking, ‘Of course the goals I set are the ones I want, otherwise why would I set them?’ Humour me as I let you in on a pretty simple checking process. I ask myself a series of questions: why do I want to achieve the goal? What will it mean to me if I reach it? What will it mean to me if I don’t achieve it? And I round it off by checking in with my emotional self and assessing how I will feel either way. As my list is dissected it becomes apparent really quickly which ones are most important. You could call it a ‘goals play-off’ of sorts.
More than half the people I coach start off having someone else’s goal; a list of desired achievements based on what they think they should want to do, rather than what they really want. The likelihood of achievement is low, frustration high, happiness neutral. At this time of year when you sit down to write your goals for the year ahead, make sure you go through my checking process. You may be surprised what you’ll add and remove from your list for celebrating in December 2017.
Icing for me: well, it’s so much more than sugar, butter and milk; it’s a complex equation of setting an example for my children, unpacking my definition of motherhood and unleashing my creative brain. The masterpiece of a birthday cake took eight hours to construct and ice, was done under extreme professional supervision (#mezzapica – cake decorating class), looked exactly like the picture (albeit our family name, Bennett, adorning the front) and literally brought me to tears. Every time we walk past the Mezzapica cake emporium, my kids say “Mum, there’s the cake you made!”
Whilst I am yet to make a cake to the same standard again, I know that with an industrial kitchen, the ingredients to hand, eight hours and 100 per cent focus, I can make great icing.
In fact, with the right why, I can do anything.