You’re listening to Parenting in the First Three Years, the place where we explore the strategies and soul of parenting from pregnancy through the first three years of life. I’m your host, Ann McKittrick. Thank you so much for joining me.

Hey there and welcome. Thanks so much for joining me for the very first episode of 2024. You know, I’ve heard a lot of people both out there in the online world and people that I talk to every day who are saying good riddance to 2023. They’re glad to see it go and they are ready for something different.

You know, a new year gives us a fresh start. And as parents, it’s really important to remember that you can begin again. You can take a moment to evaluate and pivot and be responsive to your family’s needs. The demands of your career and your own personal growth journey whenever you need to, not just the first day of the year, but it is a really good time to begin.

I’ve always found great comfort in these fresh starts and a new year presents a clearly defined time to do just this. And so in this episode, what I’m going to talk about is how to define what you really want this year in 2024 and how to set some goals to get there. I’m going to break this down into seven steps, so if you want to grab something to write with, go ahead and take a pause and grab either a pencil and paper or open up that notes app on your phone so that you can take some notes.

I’ll also have these steps outlined in the show notes and so you can always go there to review and even print them off there.

But before I begin, I want to share with you what I did this week. There’s this Catholic convent right by downtown Houston that offers silent retreats for anybody who wants to come.

All you have to do is just call and schedule it and you can go. So I went and spent two days in silence. And I was thinking and dreaming. I did a lot of sleeping and I really did some planning for this year. I really want and need to seek God for what I do in my life. And I’m so grateful to have this beautiful, peaceful place to do just that.

I’ve been going to the Villa Dei Mattel, which is what it’s called, ever since I was in my twenties. And so that’s been a long time that I’ve been going to this place. I don’t go every year, but, you know, over the years, I’ve gone kind of sporadically and I’ve tried to get a little bit more regular in more recent years.

My fellow retreatants this time were a group of young Vietnamese nuns, there were about seven of them, and there was a group of gentlemen that were there. And there was one other woman about my age. And so we share the space in this retreat center. We even share our meals together. And it’s a silent retreat.

So we’re sitting there with people in silence, eating our meals and being together, yet everybody is experiencing their own unique version of what it really means to unplug from the world and kind of go inside and examine what’s going on in that mind and heart of yours. It’s a really amazing experience.

In my time there I created some goals for myself, and I’ll share a couple of these at the end of the episode. But first of all, let’s talk about just the steps for writing goals. The first thing you have to do is decide what you want. Sounds kind of basic, but you might start with a brainstorming exercise where you just give yourself about 10 or 15 minutes to just write down all the, the dreamy life goals that you would like to, to occur.

And this might be career, it might be fitness goals, it might be financial. Freedom goals. I know that my goals include all of those things. And so the more that you write the better because this really does help you kind of define what it is that you’re wanting. These can be big life goals, like you want to travel to a bunch of different countries or grow your own business to where it’s highly successful and you can quit your job.

Or they might be smaller goals, like you want to take your kid to a professional baseball game or you want to learn how to knit or something like that. Whatever will bring you great joy and fulfillment when you experience it. That’s what you want to set as your goals. You know, I realized that when you are parenting an infant or a toddler, which you probably are if you’re listening to this podcast, it might feel that big.

Dreamy goals are kind of out of reach at this point in your life. But what I’ve seen in my Momentum Supper cCub, which is a group coaching program that I run for moms of young children, is that we really do need to go to that side of ourself. We really do need to think about what we really want.

Because otherwise we can get a little bit stuck in just the drudge of the everyday of diapers and formula and laundry and all of the things that surround raising young children. So what we do is we do an exercise called 20 Things and in this exercise we list 20 things that we love to do and this will really break open to the idea that you don’t know what it is that you really want. And so when you write down what you love to do.

For me, I love to laugh I love to talk to people. I love to cook a meal with a glass of wine in my hand and I love to listen to good music while I am doing things around the house. Those are some things that I love to do. Those aren’t goals, but they are things that kind of define what makes me happy, what gives me joy. Laughing with people and talking with them, that’s probably up there at the very top of my list.

So the first thing is you define 20 things that you really love, things that you love to do. And then you come up with 20 things you want to have. And then 20 ways that you want to be. And from these lists, this is where you can really begin to see some commonalities. You can use these ideas to begin to write some goals for this year.

You might just choose one of them. You might choose two of them that you can do while you’re in the thick of raising these little ones. But when you have your eyes set on them, it really does make it happen. One of the things that we recommend is that when you make this list of 20 things, and I’ve got a tool that you can download that will allow you to kind of guide you through this process.

What I have found, in my own experience, is that you write them down and read it every day just to remind your subconscious of what are these things that you love and then they just begin to happen. And I wrote some crazy things on my list about a year and a half ago and so many of them have happened.

It’s just amazing. So there is a lot of value in this process of really thinking about what you want. So that’s the first step of writing a goal. The second one is to write it down. And so take these things that you love to do and create just a few personal goals, maybe a few big life goals, and write them down.

Put them in a place where you can review them regularly, and you continue to add to them as things come up or things change in your life. But the most important thing is to put it where you can see it every day so you can remind yourself of the things that you want to accomplish.

The third step is to share these goals with somebody.

It always just glues it a little bit better when you have somebody who’s going to ask you later on, hey, well, how’s it going with that degree that you’re just seeking or the training that you wanted to get or the business that you wanted to launch? You want someone to be able to hold you accountable to the things that you want to do if you want them to actually happen.

When you tell somebody, it really does strengthen your conviction and your determination to achieve it. I have a friend that I talk to weekly, and she will ask me some very pointed questions about the goals that she knows that I have set for myself. And so, it’s really helpful to have her ask those questions.

The next step is with these really big life goals is to break them down into what we call a SMART goal. And if you’ve had any kind of training on this kind of thing, this is something that we use. Certainly educators use it, but a SMART goal is specific. It says exactly what it is that you’re going to do.

It’s measurable, which means you don’t say you’re going to lose weight, you say I’m going to lose 10 pounds, and I’m going to lose 10 pounds by a certain date, or I’m going to run a half marathon next December. So that would be measurable.

Attainable is the next one. It needs to be realistic, something that you can actually do.

So, There’s a huge power in crossing through these personal goals, crossing them off your list. And so when they’re attainable, you know, maybe even breaking them down into smaller goals that are more attainable to get to that big one at the end. So that’s the A in SMART.

And then the R is And this just means that it needs to be relevant for your everyday life.

You know, it’s got to be something that you can actually do and something that fits in with your family and your career and your environment. And then the last one is time bound. And this is an important part of goal setting is you need to have a time goal. If you make your goals for someday, I want to… someday.

And so if you give yourself a specific and realistic time frame in which to achieve them, you’ll be more apt to actually achieve those goals. So that’s what a SMART goal is. And now let’s move to the next step, and that is just to Take some action. Take that first step, and the only way that you’ll ever achieve this goal is to actually do the thing.

It’s one thing to write them down and look at them all day long, but that won’t help you. You’ve got to get up and do the thing. So when you write your goals, it’s really a good idea just to, underneath it, just Write down what’s the first step, what’s the very first thing I’m going to do. That will at least get you rolling.

Sometimes all it takes is just that very first movement to actually get you going. The next thing is to dedicate yourself to these goals and stay committed. You know, getting started is easy. Staying on track and continuing to move forward. Even when you run into setbacks and obstacles and distractions, this is where most people get off track and don’t meet their goals.

And this is why most new year’s intentions that we set are gone by February. I think setting realistic goals is really a good idea. And then the very last step of this goal setting process is to celebrate your successes. Every time you check a goal off of your list, you need to take time to celebrate.

Maybe that’s just with yourself. Maybe you take yourself out for a really yummy drink at a coffee shop. Or maybe you get with a friend or your partner and really celebrate and talk about what you’ve accomplished, how it feels, and all of those things, and what’s the next step.

So those are the seven steps. Decide what you want, write it down, share it with someone, break it down into smart goals, take your first step, stay on track, and celebrate your successes.

At the beginning I said I would share a couple of my own goals with you. And you know when I set my goals at the, on my retreat this week, mostly I was thinking about my business.

in what direction I want to go this year. And one thing I decided is that I’m going to go full on with my Momentum program. Momentum is a program for women that’s all about personal growth. How to find contentment and success in work, in parenting, in living within your family, and also in your personal life.

We get together for a meal, we have some wine together, we, you know, we have amazing connections that extend beyond our time together. We have a teaching that really looks at success principles. And then I share how you can do the same or teach your child the version of this principle that is appropriate for their age.

So you are not only, you know, achieving these or learning these principles of success for yourself, but you’re also learning how to teach them to your child. And we share our dreams and goals with each other. We focus on that person that is 100 percent mom. And also 100 percent woman because we are both.

We are both mom, and we are a person apart from being a mom. And each part of you needs to be nurtured, and so that’s what momentum is all about. One of our participants said that she just loved digging deeper into herself and working on herself as a person. And not just her as a mom. She has a three year old and a one year old.

Setting goals was new to her. She said that being able to set the goals and write them down made her more mindful of the things that she could accomplish being a mom as well as being herself. It really gave her some good clarity in general that was real helpful for the little business that she runs as a side gig to parenting.

And she’s already met one of her big goals, which was to increase her revenue. So, we do these momentum gatherings in person, locally. And in a couple of months, I’m going to start momentum gatherings online. So, if that sounds good to you, stay tuned. Another goal that we have set, my husband and I, is to take a trip next December.

I’m not sure where we’re going to go, but it’s going to be somewhere we’ve never been before. You know, our kids, uh, will be “Christmasing” with their in-laws next year because we had them this year. And so we’ve got the space to plan this and to do something that we can just kind of dream about and make happen for next year.

So that’s one of our goals. Another goal for me is that I am going to say no to everything that’s not a full on yes. Whether that is dinner with somebody, or doing a workshop, or buying something at the store, signing up for stuff that I really don’t want to follow through on. Even feeling like I have to do things that I really don’t want to do.

I’m done with all that. I really want to streamline my work and focus on the big projects, and for me this year that’s going to be Momentum and this podcast. That will leave some time also for another goal, which is to learn the basics of pickleball and play regularly at the park. I see people doing that all the time and I think it looks fun, so I want to give it a try.

So, speaking of this podcast, I’m going to move to a bi-weekly format, so new episodes are going to drop every other Tuesday, and I’m really excited about the lineup of guests that I’ve got for you. I think that you’re going to love to hear what they have to say, because it’s all about that little beautiful child that you’ve got sitting in your arms or sitting beside you as you are listening to this, and we want to help you understand your child and understand yourself.

Take a moment to download my free tool, 20 Ways to Power Your Parenting, and I would love it if you wanted to share with me some of the things that you’ve come up with, because I cheer you on. I’ll even pray for you that those things will actually happen in your life. I think that’s a great thing for us to do.

I could be the person that you share with. So, thanks so much for joining me, and I’ll see you here next time. Bye-bye.

If you loved today’s episode, take a minute and subscribe to our podcast. And one last thing. I’d love to pray for you and your baby if you’d like for me to. You can email me at

Your request can be as simple as just one word, or it can include an explanation. Either way, you can trust that I will pray for you. It’s a quiet, simple way that I can connect with you and your family and support you in your parenting journey.