bravery

Goal-Setting Gathering + Madison's Break From Setting Goals

Can you make a goal to become someone else? 

I've used goal setting as a way to take charge of my life so I could become better... better like the others. (You know, all the people killing it at life.) Have you been there? Setting a goal out of fear that your life will never unfold quite right if you don't "take charge" of it?

I have.

The biggest frustration with it all was that no matter how many self help books I read on achievement, no matter how organized I was, how minimal I lived, how much I wrote down my goals, prayed, journaled, and pushed to achieve then, it never felt good; and often I'd forget about the goal altogether.  Only to find the goal written on a notecard inside a book I never finished reading... oops. 

So what changed? 

How did I go from frantic goal-setting mode into a healthy, balanced relationship with setting goals?

I got help.

No, no, not help achieving the goals.

I mean real help. (from a professional.)

Turns out, wanting to achieve goals in order to become like someone else isn't the healthiest state of mind to live in. My comparison, shame, guilt for who I was, dissatisfaction with my own life, and jealousy over the successes of others were not issues that could be cured by setting goals OR achieving them.

I spent 6 months without setting goals. I saw a counselor and a life coach and decided to become the best version of myself I could be, which meant healing from the past, accepting who I am, developing healthy friendships, and learning to use my strengths. I'm still on the beautiful journey, only now I'm more me than I've ever been, and it feels great. 

I'm back to setting goals too! Only this time they are heart-aligned. 

Now, each new goal I create ads to my life and comes from a place of abundance, not fear of what will happen if I don't achieve them. 

My current goals finally feel good because I am living with intention. 

At our last gathering, Kate and Emma both touched on intentional living and becoming the person of your dreams while going after your goals.  Every step in the journey is a part of the process. Every day of shooting your arrow at your target, even if you miss, is a step in the right direction. 

No matter that looks like for you right now, you are in a perfect position to take the next step, to aim at your target and shoot.

Being intentional isn't just about achieving the big things, it's about taking steps in the right direction. Your first step to intentional living may be healing, like me. And that's okay, in fact, it may be the most important step of all.

Is There a Right Place to Chase Your Dreams?

Ana Pierce

Nearly 100 years ago, two brothers traveled from their hometown of Dayton, Ohio, to a small beach in North Carolina. To the average person, there was nothing notable about this shoreline. In fact, it was nearly deserted. But the brothers saw something else—potential. They knew Kitty Hawk had heavy winds and high air density, which made it the perfect location for their big experiment. They wanted to fly.

On December 17th of 1903, Orville Wright manned what is now known as the first flight. 12 seconds. 120 feet. And only five people saw it happen.

Orville and Wilbur Wright invented and built the world’s first successful airplane. It goes undisputed that the brothers revolutionized modern transportation, paving the way for our present-day world to discover and be discovered. Doesn’t it seem like their endeavor should have been a bit more glamorous?

I picture the Wright brothers living and working in New York City, spending most of their time hanging out in the tallest skyscraper around, casually drawing up blueprints for the first plane. They’d probably have a line of custom suits and aviator sunglasses named after them (doesn’t “Wright Bros” sound like a distinguished brand name?), and they would frequently lunch with the mayor, I’m sure.

But this wasn’t the case. The Wright brothers essentially lived and died in Dayton, Ohio. There was nothing big about their city other than the dreams they dreamed while spending their lives there. Once the trial run crashed near Kitty Hawk, they returned to their tiny hometown and resumed all flight-testing from Small-town, Ohio.

Grow up. Move out. Relocate to a “real” city. 

Is this not the 2016 millennial’s American Dream? Often, it seems to be. Yet I fear that on some level, the dream has been misplaced. If the Wright brothers’ biggest goal was “Let’s get the heck out of Dayton,” they might not have spent as much time changing the world. It’s easy to idolize the big-lights, big-dream, big-star city. And some dreams are most effectively sought after in a metropolis.

But don’t underestimate what can be done in your hometown.

As a twenty-something, you need to understand it is not as important that you move geographically as it is for you to push yourself to move developmentally. Don’t feel like you have to pick everything up and head over to the big city to lead a meaningful life. You can live, love, learn, create, play, and grow professionally in many environments. You can define your twenties while residing in a shack in the Middle-of-nowhere, Ohio. You have the capability because it lies within you.

Planes, trains, and automobiles—these vehicles are often valued as avenues for us to see and influence the world. And they are. We live in a global society, and mobilization is becoming increasingly important. Mobility, as defined by Merriam Webster, is “capable of moving or being moved.” But in the midst of our big-city dreamin’, let’s not forget the most important part: internalmobility. Moving toward goals. Being moved by others. Pushing your self to be better. To me, internal mobility is the necessary precursor for external mobility. Don’t think “I’m going to move to LA, and then I’ll do something with my life” when you could be doing something with your life now. 

It is possible to do something worthwhile in spite of limited resources or a less-than-glamorous location.

In the house that I grew up in, there was a huge elm tree in my backyard with deep, wide roots that spread all around the ground. When I was a sophomore in high school, my family built a house on the other side of town. We planted seedlings around the new property, and we all understood those baby trees would take time to bloom, but everybody missed the giant elm and oak trees in our old neighborhood. It just wasn’t the same. You see, the biggest trees have the deepest roots. In the same way, your hometown may have roots and resources to help you grow that you could miss out on if you are so focused on planting yourself elsewhere.

Your hometown is always going to be “somewhere else” to someone else. So value it for what it is, and learn to appreciate it. If leaving Small-town, USA will be best for your professional or emotional mobility, then leave. But don’t think that you have to leave your hometown to make something out of your life.

Please don’t misunderstand me, here. I have been dazzled by the big city life probably as much as (or more than) the next girl. But I have come to realize that the biggest dreams don’t necessarily require an airplane. Sometimes dreams are realized on a deserted beach with only five witnesses.

Sometimes dreams are developed in a small town. And sometimes adventure begins in your backyard.


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Ana Pierce (@itsanaactually) is a writer and editor residing in Springfield, Missouri. In her free time you can find her over at her blog She Learns Things, or just trying to keep her houseplants alive. 


1... 2... 3... LAUNCH!

You guys! Today is the day!

We are launching our passion project, The Bravery Board TODAY, and we couldn’t be more excited! 

If you’ve found this post, chances are you have looked through our site and caught wind of what we’re rolling out, but you may not know the story behind how The Bravery Board came to be.  I want to tell you our story, not only because it's interesting and hopefully inspiring, but because it's nothing short of divine.

Early in the Fall of 2015 I started thinking a lot about my place in the world professionally. I have been a counselor for several years in the school setting, but had just begun the process of being fully licensed as a professional counselor (outside of the school) a few months prior. I started thinking I may want to switch to private practice eventually or counsel clients privately on the side of my full time work. I believed in my capability of being great at it, and was ready to face the challenges that came with learning new skills; yet I didn't know much about the profession side of it- the nuts and bolts of how to set up a practice or go about getting clients, per se. 

I also had a lot of ideas brewing about the type of mental health practice I was interested in seeing and putting out in the world,  especially in my little corner of it in the Midwest, but I had no idea how to go about waving that banner to get it started.

Acknowledging the conundrum, my brilliant go-after-your-dreams husband encouraged me to write down a list of 10 professionals in my field who I could contact and ask to pick their brains. The challenge made me excited to dig a little within myself to be vulnerable and ask for help, but also to learn more about what others were doing in the field, so with a little lump in my throat, I started calling people.

Two of the names I wrote down that day were, you guessed it, Kate Alsup and Madison Hedlund. I met them separately at coffee shops within a week of each other, not even realizing they knew one another. I didn't know either of them well, but within those meetings quickly learned that they were MY KIND OF PEOPLE; they shared very similar values and goals as mine, and were also in the same spot I was-- eager to push their careers to the next level.

And thus The Bravery Board was born.

Kate, Madison, and I come at mental health concerns from different standpoints, but arrive at a very similar conclusion-- we all need help. I do. You do.

We all come across road blocks in our lives that challenge us, and yet so very often we are afraid to call upon others -- professionally or not professionally- for help when we need it.

With The Bravery Board we want to create safe spaces where people are inspired by vulnerability and change.

We are launching The Bravery Board as a collective website where you can access us for professional counseling, life coaching, or mentoring services, and a platform to host gatherings where we will ask community members to come and talk once a month about their expertise in areas that matter - Creativity, goal setting, de-cluttering the mind and life, finding your strengths, chasing your dreams... the list goes on.

So, today we launch a project that I hope continues to grow and improve over time. We're kicking it off tonight with a party for our close friends and family. Then, on April 9th, we will host our first event centered around the topic of Creativity. I will be speaking about my creative process and how I use that as an avenue of self-care. My friend Katie will speak as well, and she has some seriously-cool ideas about creativity and how to harness it.

If you're interested in any of this, sign up for our monthly bravery briefings! The emails are designed to gather up all of our favorite books, articles, and podcasts that relate to the topic we'll be hosting a gathering about that month, and to send it right to your inbox. You’ll also be entered to win one of the books we’ve been reading related to our monthly topic every single month!

I can't wait for all that is coming! We have more up our sleeves and are SO excited about sharing, but for now, let's launch and celebrate!