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Creating Goals with Soul

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I am a recovering goal digger. Any competition, big or small, I was ready to attack it and win. And if you’re from my generation, you probably can relate! A lot of these values were baked into us early on. 

But it wasn’t until recently that I realized part of goal setting needs to include rest. Building in pauses, wellness practices, and learning to enjoy the journey.  

So grab a cozy cup of tea, and listen as I reflect on season five thus far before heading into the new year, the “post-goal blues,” getting grounded in our goal setting, and let’s tap into our feels a bit.

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Campus Sonar offers unmatched insights and expertise that build client capabilities, transform campus goals, and support higher ed community learning and networking. They use digital and social intelligence to help campus partners understand and implement meaningful change.

Notes from this Episode:

[00:00:00] Josie and the Podcast is far from a one-woman show. In reality, it is Josie, Giselle, Robert, Cheska, Chelsea, and the podcast, and probably a few more. I love having a team approach to podcasting, because not only does it take a lot of skilled experts to accomplish it, but it connects back to what podcasting really can provide. And that is community.

This season, I’m partnering with Alumni FM. They are a higher ed podcast production and growth agency. Their team works with leading institutions like Stanford University, Howard University, and Middlebury College to create podcasts that resonate with their communities. I’ve been blown away by the entire team at Alumni FM who are part of Josie and the Podcast team building my podcast strategy. I love that they specialize in higher education storytelling and also have a community-centered approach to their work. If you’re thinking about podcasting, visit to learn more and get started.

This season of Josie and the Podcast is brought to you also by Campus Sonar, who offers unmatched insights and expertise that build client capabilities, transform campus goals, and support higher ed community learning and networking. They use digital and social intelligence to help campus partners understand and implement meaningful change. In January, Campus Sonar is hosting a webinar focused on audience-centric strategies that you can use on campus to increase brand cohesion. Register for free at to learn more from Liz Gross and Rebecca Stapley.

[00:02:06] Hello and welcome to Josie and the Podcast. I’m Josie, and I’m so happy to have you with me today. What does it mean to lead in the digital space with heart and humanity? On my podcast, Josie and the Podcast, I spend time answering this question with some heart, soul, and lots of substance. My goal is to share conversations that encourage you, empower you, and yes, even entertain you to rethink digital strategy for yourself and the organizations you support.

Hi, y’all. On this shorty episode of Josie and the Podcast, we are talking about goals. But before we get digging into that, I wanted to take a look at the last two episodes that the season has put out. The first kickoff episode, “Hey, Higher Ed, Are You Okay?” I want to thank everyone for reaching out and letting me know if that episode resonated. It was a bit vulnerable in what I had to share about myself, but also, setting some time aside in letting you know more about my friend, Adam Peck, who passed. And this whole season is dedicated to him. And so, while that was really hard to record, I’m really honored to get to be able to dedicate this podcast season to him and continue to feel the influence that he’s had on my work. And in that shorty episode that first kickoff, I asked some kind of challenging questions, but I also hope, provided some resources, this framework of critical hope to look at any challenge, not in a way to just sweep it under the rug if that means for you in your personal life or what’s happening at work, but actually addressing it head on, whether if it’s for you, your family, or for your teams. And that is something that I had to do and really being honest with myself and the resources that I needed and continued to need, moving forward.

Because sometimes, when we throw around some resources, especially if it’s related to wellness, self-care, or even on the end of mental health, you might get some suggestions that, well, maybe are things, like, that I do sometimes that are really woo-woo. But maybe, also, actually don’t feel like they resonate. And as I was preparing for Renew, my retreat series, I ran across this quote and this statement about affirmations. You might hear words like “intentions” or “manifesting.” And, you know, affirmations, you think talking to yourself in the mirror or like having a quote worth saying that you have on repeat. And, I mean, I know many times these can be really helpful. But in the book, “Start Where You Are: A Guide to Compassionate Living” by Perna Chadron, she says affirmations are like screaming that you’re okay in order to overcome that whisper that you’re not. Maybe you’re not okay. Well, no big deal. None of us is okay. And all of us are fine. And I think that just kind of sums up that kickoff shorty episode. And what I was hopefully giving you permission to feel, too, that we can try to pep ourselves up, to surround ourselves with some stuff that may have worked in the past. but just as enlightening might be listening to those whispers and not just screaming at yourself that you’re going to be.

[00:05:58] Last week, I also released my first featured guest episode featuring Jenny Petty, who we also talked about how she’s doing, honestly, what resources she is putting into place, as well as the really cool work that she’s doing at University of Montana, as well as in her podcast, The Servant Marketer, and thinking about even the term, radically taking care of ourselves as well as our teams, even applying a philosophy like servant leadership, it’s actually just not a light switch or easy, that that kind of work can be tough, but to continue to be honest with ourselves and our team through our processes. So, if you haven’t checked out that episode, I highly encourage it, especially if you’re, you know, maybe a Swifty or Ted Lasso fan, not just a leadership geek like her and I are.

This idea of radical self-care, I have been inspired by the works of Tara Brach, who wrote “Radical Compassion,” as well as “Radical Acceptance.” And that has influenced these retreats that I have built. There are still two more in January — January 9th and 13th — that you can jump in if you want to feel just a little bit of what radical compassion or radical acceptance could look like in your life, all of life but in higher ed, that’s going to be a good spot for you.

But today, we’re going to focus on goals and radically looking different at goals, hence also being inspired by those two texts that I just talked about. And this is going to be talking about goals for all parts of our lives, but also my work as a consultant within digital strategy — how we can approach goal-setting a little differently, especially for social media. So, before I dig into that, I’ll share a little bit about my relationship with goal-setting. I am a recovering goal digger. I was built in a generation of doing and achieving, give-me-any-competition trophy badge. Whether that’s physical or digital, I would run after that with gusto. And while I’ve done a lot of work on that, I now realize there is some consequences to only be focused on the end, the achievement. But, again, self-awareness within leadership is a core element, and I have to know that about myself.

But I also, looking back, I realize like how much this was baked into me from a young age. When I was building this episode, I thought about my college applications. And I started almost every college application, as well as scholarship applications with the same quote from St. Jerome who said, “Good, better, best. Never let it rest till your good is better and your better is best.” And a little bit of me rereading that quote, my heart broke for my previous self. I think there was many times in my life where I was so energized to always be improving and reaching and attaining. But literally, in that quote, it says never rests. And I don’t think I ever gave myself permission, honestly, until recently that part of this thing called life, and even goal-setting, needs to include rest.

So, I also share that for you listeners, if you’re maybe not in the head space to talk about goals, that this could be a good one to pause put on the shelf, but also I want to give you permission and hopefully let you know what I talk about today and lots of tools that I have used, at least the ones I’m recommending, are much more on the holistic end that, sure, there might be some achievement and some high things we want to go for, but we want to look in all dimensions of our life that also is going to feel well, like the title of this episode, going to connect back to a little bit of soul work. So, there’s been many times I’ve had to learn the hard way that achievements and goals can give you a hangover from these races, degrees, books, projects that I’ve taken on. And again, looking back, if I think I would’ve really tapped into my body, I would’ve felt those little warnings that my body was trying to tell me. You could call this intuition. You could say listening to your guts. I was just a bit blinded by the thought of then being able to say that I attain this thing, that I did this thing. Because sometimes, goal-setting can be a cost to some goals, not all goals.

And this might be an extreme example, but after I got married, 2009… And I wouldn’t say like, “Oh, my goal was to get married,” but when I put so much work into this wedding, also, by the way, this was before Pinterest and like all of this cool stuff that’s out there to help you plan weddings and digital stuff, I created my own little, like, folders with graphics. I would round up around the internet. I basically used pretty my own picture sports before they were. And maybe that’s really not that innovative. But anyway, post-wedding, and this is actually really common after you get married or like a big thing that you’re working towards, you kind of have this, like, the post-wedding or post-gold blues.

[00:12:01] And it was the first time that I had a little taste of panic, like a panic attack, one could say. I was driving to work. I thought I was having a heart attack. My heart was racing, you know, like cold sweats. Went to my doctor after work. And I think she knew I was fine, but it was the process of talking me through it and to document, like, no, you are really okay. Like, she hooked me up to an EKG. And then, we talked about resources and what was happening. And there was a big cliff afterwards, not to say the marriage was a cliff. It’s all been, I mean, a lot of work, but like really good stuff. But I didn’t… I was not prepared for what those post-goal setbacks could be, because I would put so much into it and/or expectation about what was going to be on the other side.

And I think there’s been a lot of talk about, a lot of times the journey is some of the best parts, right? The process, and maybe even not the day of, it’s that whole experience, which, again, has been something I’ve been having to work on, is enjoying that process and not just checking things off.

So, I want to talk today. And to make sure that we get grounded thinking about goal-setting that isn’t just about the lists and the accolades, but we’re going to tap into our feels, tap into our spirits, and again, heck, maybe even do a little soul work. Because getting into the spirits, it’s also like around the holidays, right? I’ve got my Mrs. Claus coffee mug, which has some yummy tea next to me. So, maybe, when you’re listening to this, too, you could surround yourself with just something a little yummy and grounding or, you know, maybe a candy cane or, you know, hot chocolate or whatever that looks like.

[00:13:52] Okay. So, as we think about goals, I want us to get grounded in redefining what goals and just overall pursuing life can be. So, a book that really changed my perspective is called “Essentialism: the Disciplined Pursuit of Less” by Greg McKeown. And he says, essentialism is not about how to get more things done, it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less, either. It’s about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential. And again, as I scroll back the clock, I think, also, being busy and adding a lot to my goals was almost a coping mechanism to try to suppress some of, maybe, my whispers of worry or anxiety. And I found a lot of self-worth in how much I was trying to put out. And many times, this was rewarded at work. I was promoted. I was given more responsibilities. But then, that even came at a cost because I became burnt out. And now, as a entrepreneur with a small team, I’ve had to focus a lot more time on energy and thinking more about adding in spaciousness. And this word, “spacious,” this is just a yummy word. I’m trying to try not to use the word, “yummy,” a whole bunch. Maybe, I’m hungry.

So, going back to a quote from the author of “Essentialism,” instead of trying to accomplish it all and all at once flaring out, the essentialist starts small and celebrates progress. Instead of going for the big flashy wins that don’t really matter, the essentialist pursues small and simple wins in areas that are essential. And again, I can look back of wanting to do all the things all at once. It’s literally that meme of saying all of the things, this really excited cartoon character because I get excited. Like, I’m an Aries, and we just get so excited, especially about the beginning of something. And that energizes us so much. But then, we find these big flashes, not only can we not sustain them, but we don’t celebrate along the way. And I’m not trying to cast my Aries people out there. This is my own self-work, and just myself.

[00:16:31] So, even celebrating, I have been trying to bake in a lot more often. And I think some tools I’ll give you today may help you operationalize that. Another element of essentialism when we think about also paying attention to our bodies, or what I’m calling in the retreat, in Renew, embodiment. If we can actually pay attention to some clues our body is giving us when we are going through reflection and goal-setting to give clarity. So, tapping in, if it’s not a clear yes, then it actually might be a clear no. Because there’s, actually, energy we put towards making decisions and setting goals that might actually use up energy that we really want to use in other places, at least for me. And so, I would say, when you’re thinking about goals, when you’re thinking about intentions, go for the simple and small stuff. And then, you can think about some of those bigger things later.

So, as we start to get warmed up into goal-setting… And again, this might be an episode that you’re actually going to work through some of these things with me. You can pause. You can come back. This might be one you want to bookmark and do more often. And, of course, I would love to hear what you think and resources that you are using. So, I want you to first think about what is currently not working and not just, like, your internet connection or your phone. Like, as we think holistically in all different parts of our life, you may quickly first start thinking about work. But this could be, again, all types of different elements. And try not to go just for the functional stuff, like, “Oh, I need a new phone, and this is how I’m going to fix it.” You could think about more flow things from spiritual, from physical, from financial. We’ll get into some of those categories in a bit.

[00:18:31] But then, also, let’s think about some areas that right now we can be grateful for. And not just, what are you grateful for? I always get stumped on that question. I’m like, I feel like I’m just, like, given a homework assignment. So, but right now, what seems to just flow? What is easeful? What’s enjoyable? And let’s celebrate that. Let’s put some gratitude to that. And again, we could think about what is some small and simple things that are flowing. It could even be like the route you take to work or the to-do list tracking that you have or that now you’re only meeting with your team for one-on-ones for 15 minutes. Anything. It’s all on the table. What seems to flow? A yoga class that you do on Sundays. What’s useful? What’s enjoyable?

Now, that you’ve thought a little bit about what’s not working, but also what is, I’m going to share a few tools that I’ve used over the years. And that’s also incorporated in the retreat series that I think you can be inspired by and work. Some of them, they’re free. And some of them, there is a cost. And I’ll link in the show notes to where you can pick these things up. And I’ll really share what my opinion and what my experience has been with some of them. And then, of course, I’d be interested to hear what you think.

[00:19:54] So, I’m starting with free. Yay, free is for me. And that is YearCompass. This is a digital download workbook that I have done…

Oh, my God. I think I’m going on my eighth year. And I’ve actually like shared this throughout the years and got other people to discover it. So, if this is going to be a new tool for you, I think this would be a really great starter. If you’ve never done… and when I say goal-setting, it’s not just brainstorming on your own, but having a framework and process to go through it. Because it’s not just because I’m a facilitator and just get really geeked out about setting goals, but I personally find it’s helpful to have a process. It almost feels like a little weight is lifted off when you have a process and a framework to follow. Because after you try it, you can then try on or even remix it a little bit for what you want it to be if certain parts don’t work for you.

Okay. So, YearCompass, as described on their website, is a booklet that helps you reflect on the past year and plan for the next one. With a set of carefully selected questions and exercises, YearCompass helps you uncover your patterns and design a year for yourself. And now, if you are listening to this episode and it’s July, that’s okay, you can define what a year is however you want. But I would say it asks you to look back 12 months and forward 12 months. So, wherever that falls for you, because there’s two parts to it.

And I would also say, within goal-setting, even if the word, “goal,” isn’t resonating for you, use whatever other word fits. If that’s intentions, if that’s affirmations, if that’s a strategic plan, whatever that is. And I really like how it starts out when you look past the last year is to actually go through your calendar and write down some important things, some significant things that happened in your life. We can quickly forget about something. If it’s now December you’re doing this, you may have forgotten this cool thing you got to do in February, something you accomplished. And I would even say write down things that you, maybe, stopped doing that you have found now to be a really important thing that you want to know. So, this can be family events, projects. Go through your calendar. And, you know, if this is a physical calendar, it’s going through, you know, your outlook or, for me, Gmail calendar.

[00:22:36] And again, I just find this to be really helpful to bring the full year into picture, rather than just relying on what our memory may come. Because for some, you may only think of, maybe, the challenging parts. But also, then, as you go through that list, think about what are you most proud of? What did you discover about yourself? And the work that I do in the retreat isn’t just highlighting those things, but the process of saying goodbye to your last year. And YearCompass has you write a little letter to the last year and to yourself and to see what you can start to let go of.

The year ahead, I find also that second part to be really energizing. There’s a section called triplets where, for example, you write out three things that you’re going to love about yourself, three people who will be your pillars during hard times, and then even three things that you’re going to say no to.

And I’m just giving you a few highlights. I think there’s like 20 pages to the pamphlet. I tend to print it out, but again, you could do it digitally, too. And then, at the end, it asks you to pick your word for the year, a word that’s going to symbolize and define your year ahead. And I have not picked my word for the year, yet. But last year was “ease.” And it has influenced my work with this podcast. And I find words can be really powerful, which is just a hint of the last framework and exercise that I’ll share within our episode today.

[00:24:16] Okay, so let me know if you check out YearCompass. The next one is Artist’s Way. And when I say we’re going kind of far extreme of examples, this would be it, because Artist’s Way, unlike YearCompass, that might take you a few hours. Artist’s Way actually is built to be a process that takes, I think it’s 12 weeks. And I know a number of people, and maybe it’s just because out here in LA there’s lots of creatives, a lot of people try to start Artist’s Way and then they end up stopping. So, I would say this might be a bit more on the advanced side, as far as a time commitment. But I have completed Artist’s Way once, and I would say that it has made a significant impact on me. And I would think of it more of a experience and a process, rather just one activity.

So, the “Artist’s Way: A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity” came out in 1992 by Julia Cameron. And at the time, this was pretty new age, if you think back into the early ’90s, about this process. She wrote it to help people with artistic creative recovery. And it’s interesting, if you think about we’re all artists, and I love that you don’t have to feel like you’re going to do this, and like, “Well, I can’t draw. I can’t write. I can’t X, Y, Z,” being an artist and being a creative is defined by all things. In higher ed, you are creating all kinds of experiences, whether if you’re in financial aid, to admissions, to student affairs. And so, maybe that’s a future episode.

[00:26:00] I would say, also, one thing that turned some off, but actually drew me in even stronger is she does use language within spiritual connections and the use of God, but she also allows you to find your own language and even meaning behind that, as we think about a higher power, energy, spirituality. So, again, this is a 12-week… She calls it a course. There is no, like, online assignments or… There are actually a lot of Facebook pages out there, if you’re wanting to find other people going through this together or that have done it in the past. And the core exercise that you’re going to do, in addition to reading these 12 different sections in the book, are called Morning Pages. These are going to be handwritten journals that you are just supposed to word-vomit. Just write. Just like let it out. It’s supposed to help clear whatever might be stuck just to write. And when you get stuck, you could just write, “I don’t know what to write anymore.”

She really wants these to be longhand, no typing. While there were days that these became really challenging, I also found sometimes these were days of brainstorming that then I was thinking about work stuff. Or, I think I even started to like dream a little bit about the RV.

And you start to get out of your head, actually, as you continue to do these.

Every week, there’s also exercises that she challenges you to do. And the one that I’ve actually incorporated into the Renew retreat is thinking about things that we enjoy. So, she says, list out 20 things you enjoy, but also to think about, when was the last time that you let yourself enjoy doing that thing? I think in COVID times, there may have been reasons for us not to do certain things, or maybe we’ve just outgrown them. Or, I even love some exercises she has you think about doing stuff when you were a kid. When you were eight, what did you enjoy? Or, when you’re 80, what do you think you will enjoy or you want to be able to still be doing? And then she has you set really small goals. So, what are two things you could do this week or by the end of the year of those things that you enjoy?

[00:28:15] And then the other core exercise is called the Artist Date. And honestly, I struggled with these a little bit, is that you’re literally supposed to spend time on your own going somewhere that inspires you. This could be Target. This could be the library, a park, whatever. You take yourself out somewhere. I do think it’s ideally out of your own house and not on the internet for inspiration. So, it’s a block of time. And again, this is where I fell off a little bit, getting myself out.

So, I’d love to hear if anyone out there has tried the Artist’s Way. I would say, again, it’s not so much like a goal-setting process rather than experience that you would go into for, again, a number of weeks. What I also, as someone that needs to see something in the end, I had probably two full journals of my morning pages, as well as these other reflective exercises she had. She says, don’t go back and to read your morning pages, especially right away during the program. But again, it’s just kind of nice to know that those are earmarked as well.

Okay, the next tool I’d like to share is called Cultivate What Matters PowerSheets. Cultivate What Matters is a larger organization. And they create this thing called a goal planner. It’s not a planner like a daily planner. It does have some monthly planner resources in there, but it helps you set plan and track progress towards goals that matter the most, big or small, the things you’ve always wanted to do. And, of course, I appreciate that they really press there’s no perfection required.

[00:29:55] As a company, Cultivate What Matters says they’re passionate about women uncovering what truly matters and doing something about it. I would give a heads-up that it is because it is for women, I would say, I mean, I love it. It’s a little like flowers and frill. There’s stickers. It’s colorful. I do kind of wish they would provide a variety of more visual planners for people that just might feel inspired not just by super bright colors. And like I said, it is a ringed planner that you can… I’ll link to it in the show. And there’s four different sections. There’s pre-work, which I do think would be a great thing to do in December or January or whenever you get it. And it’s going to work you through a variety of exercises to think about what’s happening in your life right now, what’s working, and then a goal-setting process where you set goals in up to 12 areas. I also appreciate that they have you break them down into much smaller goals. And then, as you’re moving through the year — because it is a year planner — there’s monthly planning pages, as well as attending list page where you’re building out every month and really focusing on what you can do.

And then as, especially, a business owner, the last thing was very valuable. It was a quarter refresh. And when we talk about goals and just setting something at the beginning of the year and like letting it ride, I have found it’s really important to have check-ins throughout the year, whether if that’s monthly or quarterly. Or, maybe, in higher ed, every semester works for you. Because goals change, realities change. A new opportunity may have come in your life where you try something on, it really doesn’t fit. And so, this quarterly refresh I set aside like a half day. And it’s almost like a reward. And I surround myself with like some of my favorite things. I might go do it somewhere fun. So, I am also going to admit that I fell off doing this goal planner after August. And to be honest, also, I think it was because where I was in some of my mental health challenges this last fall. And so, I have some blank months. But I am excited to pick this back up and do it actually before the new year.

The other thing I like about their process is they don’t call it the eight dimensions of wellness, but they basically use that same framework of looking at all different parts of your life to honestly evaluate them. And both at beginning of the year and every quarter, they have you audit each area. What is working? What’s not? How would you define your relationship? Your work elements of your life? Your spiritual areas of your life? Your health? And then a place, so you can refresh those goals.

They also used the word for the year. And so, I was just able to already have ease for both of those. And again, I always like how they come back to choosing what matters, which is going back to essentialism, thinking about, are you doing these goals for the right reasons? Are you doing them for someone else? If you really tap into how you’re feeling, would you really pick these goals? Which leads me to my last tool, and this is a new one in my life. So, I’m actually going through this process right now. It’s called “The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul.” And this is from creator Danielle LaPorte. She says, knowing how you want to feel is the most potent clarity you can have. Generating those feelings is the most powerful thing you can do with your life. So, I like the angle of, it’s not just the doing, but the feeling. Now, you do end up setting goals that ideally are tied to how you want to feel through those goals. She says, beyond finish lines and a job well done, there’s a different call inspiration. Inspiration is what’s going to get you through the hard days of trying to attain that goal, as well as bring light anywhere else you are in the process.

[00:34:20] So, she has you think about goals through soul goals. Hence, the title of this episode. These are heart-based versus head-based. She has you think about what’s motivating you versus what’s inspiring you or what’s pushing you versus pulling at you, as we think about embodiment in goals and to follow the pull. This means we have to really slow down and listen to some of those whispers and not just the screams we might feel that the world is telling us to be certain things, to do certain things.

And so, I want you to think about how you want to feel in 2023. Don’t just jump right ahead to “I want this event. I want to feel this way or doing this thing,” overall, those feelings. And I’ll link to a tool that has like over 150 words because I find it’s really helpful. Like, I don’t know how I want to feel, like, give some ideas, give me some inspiration. So, you could print this off. You could circle. Just like circle dozens of words that jump out at you. I want you to focus on that pull, and then let that sit. Come back to it. And then, try to narrow it down to 10 to 12. And this is where you would actually go and look these words up in the dictionary, in the thesaurus, maybe urban dictionary. Like, see what these actually are in practice. And pay attention to, like even as they’re defined, is this pulling me in? Am I inspired by this? And then look for themes. So, when I started this, I started to see like, oh gosh, these words really, I think, are kind of similar and would fit under, maybe, an umbrella term, because the goal is to pair it down to only five words.

And those would be your desired feelings for 2023. And maybe, one of those words is your word for the year. So, you can start to see, there’s lots of intersections with these different exercises that are out there. I think that the goal would be don’t do them all. I’ve also done this, where I’m like, okay, I have to do this one and that one. And by the time I get to this other thing, I’m like, I’m so tired of thinking about anything. So, pick one of these that I’m talking about, or just different parts that you can pair up to make it make sense for you.

And as you pair down, you think about how those feelings are going to connect back to any goals you currently have or some ideas that you have for goals. Maybe, you have some new soul goals that are coming up based upon those feelings. And then, you can pull it back to essentialism again. Are you doing this goal with clarity? What are you wanting to say no to? What are you wanting to say yes to? I love these intersections, these connections. Again, I think it’s just being a qualitative researcher and that process of pairing.

A few other tools that I have tried is the Clever Fox Planner. I’m not going to go away deep into this, but this is a planner for weekly and daily that incorporates planning for monthly and quarterly. It hasn’t fit for me quite yet. It’s kind of too big, too. It comes like, I think, 8 by 10. But I really enjoyed it at first. And I think, for some, you might be into it.

Bullet Journal is one that I keep coming back to. It really is a self-made planner, a blank notebook that you are making into whatever you need it to be. You can fill it with stickers and designs, or it can be super bare bones, just using the system in order to track your day, your goals, and your process throughout the year.

[00:38:12] And then another tool that I’ve done that — again, unfortunately this fall, I completely fall out, but I’m hoping to bring it back — is a journal called Some Lines a Day. If you ever get overwhelmed with just journaling, like whether if it’s writing one page a day or, like in the Artist’s Way, three, Some Lines a Day is literally that. It’s only space for a few lines. And what’s cool is, in one page, there’s five sections for five years. And so, eventually, when you land on that day, I’m recording this on December 11th, I could look back at all my entries on December 11th for when I did that the last five years. And I think that will eventually be really cool. Right now, I think I’m just like a year and a half in.

And so, I’ll link to all of those. This is not sponsored by any of those things and people. And so, the way that I built the Renew Retreat series was I kind of picked like an apricot from this tree and an avocado and an orange. And hopefully, when you come to the retreat, you’ll get a nice fruit basket of some of those different elements. So, you can also taste and try on some of these different processes and get inspired with resources and be supported with community.

But this is not just about goal-setting for our lives. I want to talk differently about approaching goal-setting within social media. What could digital strategy goals with soul look like? And it’ll blow your mind, right? If you don’t already know the framework of a smart goal when you create your goals for social, please do that. Don’t just list, “We want to increase brand awareness.” They need to be simple, sensible, significant, measurable. They should also be motivating.

But we need to have data. We need to be able to pull data to evaluate it. They need to be achievable. So, be realistic. And make sure that, when you create these goals, you’re not doing it just alone. You’re getting other stakeholders involved, are relevant. Are they realistic? Reasonable? Do you have resources behind them? Are they based on platforms you’re on? And still, we’re going back to, can we pull some results from these?

And then, time-bound. Be specific when you write out these goals, when is this going to happen? Is it weekly? Monthly? Is this a one-time thing? Is this going to be year round? Because when you have a time-specific stamp on it, then you can tie that into, again, how we’re going to tell the story with data. So, there’s also some common goal types as you think about not just a smart goal. So, it may be to grow your channels or increase engagement? Now, we’re looking at both demographics and engagement behind that. Or, maybe, it’s an impact or influence goals. This could be for yourself. You’re wanting to see your impact on different channels. You are wanting to be able to find different thought pieces that you’ve written or influence with specific communities. But also engagement. You want a community that is actually reacting to your content from likes, shares, comments, all those goodies or value. You want to be able to have your community say that they actually value these strategies.

[00:41:44] When we think about strategies and creating goals with soul in social media, I’ve been teaching the framework of purpose-driven digital strategy. This is prioritizing people and your purpose, which is your goals, over platforms and production. We so quickly run to tools like Mastodon or TikTok or whatever the new thing is, and then figure out how to do all the things and keep doing all the things. But then we don’t… we forgot who our people are and what our purpose really is, even outside of social media.

And so, if we were to add on a soul perspective to goal-setting and social media, how do you want your people to feel when they go to your Instagram account or your website or when they open an email? What impact do you want that to make? I have a feeling creating goals and strategy with soul is going to help elevate your growth goals, your impact goals, your engagement goals, because you’re humanizing your tools.

Sometimes, there is value in taking the word, “digital,” out of the equation. Student engagement is digital engagement. Digital engagement is family engagement, alumni engagement. This all counts, but it all depends on how you approach it. So, the Digital Community Building Cohort, this is a philosophy that we approach with, one that is community centric, and to create really strategic goals with soul. I have some amazing cohort faculty who have decades of experience as strategists. And I ask them, when I say, what is social media goals with soul?

Katie Spencer Johnson, who is our faculty that teaches social media goal-setting. She says, goals grounded in purpose, passion, and community. It’s goals without the numbers, which, oh, my gosh, that really got my head thinking. Goals with soul are the story behind the metrics, a qualitative answer to the quantitative question. Oh, my gosh, metrics could be another episode. As we think about, let’s just not tell the metrics, and one could say vanity metrics story, we have got to insert qualitative storytelling in how we are showing the impact that we’re making, but also how we’re creating our strategy in the first place.

Tyler Thomas, he teaches in the cohort digital community moderation and management. He says, “For me, goals with soul is focused on connecting, engaging, and deepening relationships online. The best social content performs well because there’s some sort of connection, not just because people clicked or reacted to it.” With that in mind, goal-setting with the audience, even more at the center and building strategies focused on that audience and not solely focused on typical marketing metrics. 


And even typical marketing metrics. We want to start to challenge that concept in how you focus your time in strategy. That’s where it starts. Are you tracking how many people that you are commenting on their comments? Or, you’re going out to do social listening out into the community and celebrating user-generated content, not content that’s your own. And that can be part of the metric, too. Because this puts a framework of community over content at the center. In my next featured guest episode that’s coming out the first week of 2023, we are going to be geeking out about a community-building model for social media managers. And we’ll dig in a lot more to this concept of social media strategy with social media goals with soul.

[00:46:04] So, overall, as I look at goals and inserting and intersecting a little bit more feelings, we want to look holistically. One tool that I didn’t mention is the eight dimensions of wellness. You could… There’s like printouts, and I’ll link to one, that you can rank, assess, evaluate all different elements of your life that fall under these World Health Organization categories of wellness. And that could help guide some of your focus areas for 2023.

I would also say less is more. And more important is to track and check in with yourself and to embrace that these goals should and will change. And also, part of the process of creating a goal isn’t necessarily to accomplish it. It is the process itself. I would encourage you to look at the good, currently, and not just the deficit. Try on what self-compassion and kindness could be like as you approach this new year in the work that you do. And again, remember it’s a year-round process, if not monthly or weekly, but at least quarterly. And it should be community, so don’t just keep these to yourself. A lot of the tools that I shared today have Facebook groups or different kind of communities that you can share out and/or, like the YearCompass, they encourage you to create groups to share what some of your findings and results were. Or, just share on Twitter or on Facebook, “This is my year… my word for the year,” or, “This is the things I’m not going to do.” I find those, almost, are the best affirmations rather than trying to tell you who to be is affirming and making that manifesting out into the world.

So, I’d love to know what’s your word for the year, what are your feelings you want to cultivate in ’23, or if you’re going to try on or have done any of these tools. And then, how are you translating this in the digital space? What are your soul goals for social? How do you want the humans on the other side of the screen to feel when you pop up in their feed?

Y’all, I’m signing off today with a very special holiday hug. I am lifting my Mrs. Claus mug up to you, wherever you are. I hope, this season, you can find a little slice of peace, comfort, joy, and, of course, a hopeful little self-care.

Thank you for joining me for this episode of Josie and the Podcast. Join the conversation online. You can find me on most platforms @JosieAlquist. And the podcast is on Twitter @JosieATPodcast. Remember that show notes can be found at

The easiest way to stay updated when an episode comes out is to subscribe — Apple Podcasts, Spotify, wherever you want. Your feedback is also really important to me and my team. So, if you’d consider giving a little review this holiday or passing it along to a colleague, I sure would appreciate it.

If you’re interested in learning more about my speaking and consulting work on digital leadership engagement or community building or my book, “Digital Leadership in Higher Education,” check me out at Don’t forget, the Renew Retreat series is running till mid-January and the Digital Community Building Cohort registration is open and kicks off February 1st. Thank you again to my podcast sponsors, Campus Sonar and Alumni FM, who are the producers of this very show. 

Sending digital hugs, loves, and waves to whatever corner of the world you’re listening in from. This has been Josie and the Podcast.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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