Career

What women don't talk about: resolutions and life goals

An all-women’s training team get candid about their personal, professional and life goals.

January is the month to get down to the business of setting goals for the year ahead. But between work and family responsibilities, ticking off your New Year's resolutions can be harder than it looks. So how do other women do it? NEXT invited three women who work out together with Look Better Naked and their trainer to share their ambitions over a late lunch at Auckland's Gerome restaurant.

Over wine and shared platters, we covered everything from mood boards to staying motivated, from discovering what you want out of life to feeling guilty when we miss the mark. When it came to setting goals one thing was clear: There's nothing better than talking it out.

Finding balance

Sarah: It's a busy life looking after yourself, your family and your career. How do you balance it all?

Maree: A lot of my goals are about trying to work smarter.

Andrea: I think in the past I have been working in too many directions. This will be my year to streamline everything. Be more relaxed and happy.

Kate: For me it's really about finding the right balance between family and friends. I find I run in 100 different directions and don't necessarily meet anyone's expectations that way. So, from a work perspective, it's about finding the right balance and supporting my team as well. A lot of my team have really concise goals about what they want to do to get to the next level, so it's actually supporting them as their boss so they can get to the levels of achievement they want. That's about taking it away from being about me and onto someone else.

Anthea: I agree with Maree. I want to be working smarter, not harder. I do set goals; that's just what I naturally do. I have a paper diary and every day I put everything down – all the goals that I want to achieve for the day.

Andrea: Actually I do that with my phone. If I don't get it done then I move it to the next day.

Sarah: I'm not sure if nine-to-five hours fit people's lives anymore. I think all workplaces need to look into working from home because it's actually such a hard line to think everyone needs to be there at 9am and leave at 5pm because that's construed as a typical work day.

Kate: One of the girls in my team said "Hey, I want to take my son to kindy one day a week" and I said "Go for it, that's cool", so she's going to do that and work from home for the rest of the day. That is one of my plans, to work from home at least once every fortnight. Get the washing done. I've got to do a lot of writing as well and if you're constantly in the office you're getting interrupted. It's going to take me an hour at home, but could take me three-and-a-half hours in the office. It works with my team. I feel old school but I do have to trust people that they're able to do it and we're at that level. I trust them to get on and do it because it's about their output.

Life goals

Sarah: What are your big goals?

Maree: I wanted to make my business bigger but work less hours. And I've made a start; I've shortened my hours to three days a week.

Sarah: Oh, that's so good. Was that a conscious decision?

Maree: Yup. Because I was getting tired. Now I feel I can do more, and I feel rejuvenated about it.

Andrea: It must be hard sometimes being a personal trainer and keeping everyone motivated all the time? Sometimes when I'm exercising you'll hear people say "I can't do that because I've got a sore arm", and then you'll get someone saying "Oh I've got a sore this or that".

Maree: You do take on a lot. It's like being a hairdresser, I think.

Sarah: And you must have the same thing with nails, Andrea? You must have some people who have come in with their issues and then swan off. It's good therapy.

Andrea: Actually the title is nail technician but I sort of call it a nail therapist because you're listening to people and helping them.

Sarah: Is it okay to be ambitious?

Andrea: There are so many young people » coming through now who have done amazing things and I just love hearing about it. But sometimes when you tell people what you're doing you don't always get a positive reaction and you feel a bit deflated. I'm just getting into property and sometimes when I'm talking about it people can be a bit negative so I only tell people if they ask. And if they're positive I'll continue to talk about it because I think otherwise it can bring me down. You need to surround yourself with positive people who are interested in what you do.

Sarah: Is that a mix of women and men being negative?

Andrea: It is a mix, but I suppose I talk about things to women mostly.

Anthea: It's that tall poppy syndrome. I started my business in my garage with just furniture I owned and for 15 years I've had my head down, bum up just working and creating this thing. And it wasn't until one day when I looked up and looked at this massive warehouse and thought 'What the hell have I done?', but I didn't really think about it along the way. And it's not until someone says, "Oh, you're a successful businesswoman" and I'm like "Huh? Are you sure?"

Kate: Women don't actually necessarily go out there and praise each other, rather they celebrate their own success.

Anthea: But you end up doing more than men anyway. Maybe it's just a male/female thing.

Maree: Well you're running the house.

Anthea: Sometimes I have to remind myself and my family. I have to say I've got a business with 10 staff, I've got four kids, I've got all of my friends and my parents are getting older. I'm kind of like that sandwich generation where my children are leaving home but now my parents are relying on me so I'm in the middle.

The right motivation

Sarah: Do you think we need to get better at supporting each other as women in our careers?

Maree: Well in my industry we're all contractors and we're very individual. If someone's not confident or feels a little bit threatened in their work, they won't communicate or they won't join in or anything like that and it's sad. I've definitely been through highs and lows with my own confidence, but then with my husband Paddy I'm really lucky I can get it out there and
talk to him.

Anthea: I think everyone goes through that. You have that self-doubt and you think you're not good enough. But we're good at what we do. We doubt ourselves; yet there are other people who come in and do a lesser job and you sort of think 'Oh I could've done that with my eyes closed', but you're never going to stand up and brag about it.

Kate: I just think it's so important the impact that positive reinforcement has. We were just talking about how we've cracked a big goal as a business and we got our executive to say thank you and that's all everyone wanted – they didn't want a reward, they just wanted a genuine heartfelt thank you. We're not going to get positive affirmation all the time but you need to get comfortable with yourself that you are actually doing a good job.

Sarah: You need someone to push you.

Andrea: It makes you think 'Oh, I should do that better' or 'How could I do that better?' I'd imagine it's like that as a sportsperson, if you're winning all the time.

Anthea: I'm a really visual person and so I really like visual things. I put things on my fridge, like if I want a new car or I want to go on a cruise or do something like that. Even for Freddy, who wanted to buy a new boat, I said "Well we'll put it on the fridge, because if it goes on the fridge then it'll happen". He said "Don't be so ridiculous", and it happened. It's like this subconscious thing that happens when you see this thing every day and your brain thinks you already have it.

Sarah: Well it's all that visualising.

Kate: We do that at work actually. We try to have vision boards and you set goals there and it does help with your planning.

Anthea: I find it's a fantastic tool because even if it's a bit unrealistic, it can happen.

Sarah: I had a friend who put a picture when she was at her best physique on her fridge so every time she went to the fridge she'd look at that picture. It was her inspirational pic, and would stop her from eating something else.

Maree: We've got a brand new stainless steel fridge so I can't put anything on it!

Sarah: But you can make mood boards. Actually that's kind of inspired me; I think I might do a mood board for 2018.

Kate: They are actually good; my friend Emma does mood boards and they do work for her.

Sarah: And you could do it on your computer, couldn't you? You could do a board on there if you didn't want to actually physically do it.

Maree: It could be your screensaver.

Sarah: Do you have role models or mentors in your lives?

Anthea: I think you've got to be really careful about who you choose as your mentor. Years ago I did self-development stuff and I realised these people didn't live up to their own teachings and so I found that really deflating. Now I'm very careful if I'm asking for financial or business advice to actually ask people who've done it.

Sarah: So you've got to pick the right role models?

Anthea: Yeah. There were people who were doing these big seminars and then I realised that ethically they're not living up to what they say. I found that quite hard to take and so now I'm very careful who I take advice from.

Sarah: Do you think you outgrow looking towards other people and just become happier within yourself?

Maree: I think it would be nice if you could get to that stage.

Kate: I work with a really great female CEO. She's amazing and I've learned a lot of things – not by her mentoring me – but one of the things that really impressed me was when she one day said "Stop, I don't understand what you're saying to me. Please explain it in smaller words'', and I thought 'That's awesome'. No one ever says 'Please explain that to me in my language', and having the confidence to be able to go "I don't understand, I need to be able to understand it. Please try and explain it another way". I look at other people, for example my sister-in-law. I really admire her, she's got two kids, she's got a really busy job starting an online business and she's keeping everything going. For me, I think she's doing a fabulous job raising her two kids, my niece and nephew.

Andrea: I watch people I admire, like Kelly Coe from Augustine, I look at her and think she's amazing. I admire her for what she does. She must be very focused.

The starting point

Maree: I think it's important to share your goals with your family.

Andrea: Or it would be a good idea to get together every six months or every year with friends like this and go through your goals.

Kate: I was just saying I've been doing objective setting with my team and it's really interesting because we talk about having to share goals and
set objectives.

Anthea: I feel if I tell someone I'm going to do something, if I don't do it I've really let them down.

Sarah: And you don't want to be one of those people who says 'I'm doing this and that' and then never do it.

Maree: I set some little goals before Christmas when our house renovation was finished. I said to my husband Paddy "I've got my goals now for the next few months". One of mine was to read four books over the holidays because we're both avid readers, and with all the renovations we've done recently you couldn't even find a book. So that was one, and I wanted to clean out the wardrobe and plan the overseas holiday for next year. And he looked at me and said "They're not goals, they're just things you do". And I said, "If I make it a goal, I will do it".

Sarah: But do you know what I like the best about that, is it was nearing the end of the year and it seems like most people stop setting goals but you just went ahead and made more! In saying that, now is the time that I, along with other people, are thinking about weight loss more than ever.

Anthea: I think you do need to actually be aligned with your partner. With my ex-husband, it's quite funny because I was always setting goals and I realised one day his goals were completely different to mine. Now with my fiancé, I always check in with him and see that we're on the right path, because I think it's really, really important.

Maree: It's in my nature to go "Okay, we'll do that". But now with talking about our goals, it gives me the opportunity to say what I want.

Sarah: Do you ever say "I want to do this by the time I'm 30, 40, 50, 60?"

Andrea: I think I did that when I was younger. I did the whole 'I want to be married with a child by this age', but now I don't. I don't know where I want to be. I'd quite like to be cruising around the Caribbean.

Kate: More and more I think 'What are my financial goals in terms of being able to afford the lifestyle I want?'

Anthea: When I was single and looking to meet somebody I actually wrote every attribute that this person was going to have – right down to not having tattoos. It was very specific and it was amazing because I wrote that goal on January 18, and I met Freddy on the 21st. I think you put that energy out there and it kind of happens. When my son was looking to meet somebody he came to me and said "Oh mum, you know I've been single for a while and I haven't met anyone". My first piece of advice was to stop looking, and the second piece of advice was to work out who it is he wanted to meet, right down to who they are, and then he met his beautiful girlfriend.

Sarah: So should we be teaching children to make goals?

Andrea: I think they do teach it now.

Maree: Never in my day, ever.

Andy: Bailey, my son, doesn't talk about it but I see him achieving things so I think he must have goals.

Maree: How old do you think they should start setting goals?

Andrea: I think while they're finishing school because you know they're either going to university or they're going to work.

Anthea: I think when they're really young, even when they're at home. I never paid my boys pocket money. I used to make them invoice me and so they had an invoice book and on the fridge was all the jobs they could do, like put out the rubbish, unload the dishwasher, mow the lawns and all of them had a monetary value. And so if they did any of those tasks, they had to write the job down and what it was worth. On a Friday I paid them cash and so they had to submit their invoice to me. But what it taught them was if there was something they wanted, they had to work really hard for it.

Maree: Oh that's cool. And they got into it?

Anthea: Yeah, they're really into it. My kid Josh at 26 bought his first house. He saved his deposit working. When he left university he got a good job and was still living at home so he lived rent-free for a long time, but instead of spending all his money like his mates were doing, he was saving.

Andrea: That's a good chunk of money to save. That's the difference; when we were all saving for our first house we really only needed to save probably $10,000, and now it's like $100,000.

Body talk

Sarah: How do you feel about ageing... in physical terms?

Maree: Everyone wants to stay young with Botox. They don't want their life to run out.

Kate: Oh I don't know, a little bit here and there… I wouldn't say no.

Maree: I've never had any done, but what worries me is when you start you can't stop.

Sarah: Well I had it for a beauty story I once wrote. It's worn off now. They were like "Oh you just need four jabs here" and after they did it, it did look smoother and I definitely had fewer lines. And then when it ran out I was like 'Oh I don't really feel like I need to do that again'. It was a good experience, but I wasn't looking at myself like 'I've taken 10 years off'. Mind you I was only 32 at the time.

Kate: My sister is 31; she got it and I was like 'Seriously?' I didn't even notice she had got it done.

Sarah: How do you feel about ageing... in physical terms?

Maree: Everyone wants to stay young with Botox. They don't want their life to run out.

Kate: Oh I don't know, a little bit here and there… I wouldn't say no.

Maree: I've never had any done, but what worries me is when you start you can't stop.

Sarah: Well I had it for a beauty story I once wrote. It's worn off now. They were like "Oh you just need four jabs here" and after they did it, it did look smoother and I definitely had fewer lines. And then when it ran out I was like 'Oh I don't really feel like I need to do that again'. It was a good experience, but I wasn't looking at myself like 'I've taken 10 years off'. Mind you I was only 32 at the time.

Kate: My sister is 31; she got it and I was like 'Seriously?' I didn't even notice she had got it done.

Maree: We just have to remember that different circumstances in life will make us put on weight – things like menopause, having babies, loads of different things.

Sarah: Women have a hard road, I reckon, when it comes to weight; it's not hard with men. But I think with things like Instagram – everyone looks perfect. There are filters and everything so they don't actually look how they would look in real life. Everyone's seeing it and going 'She's the same age as me, and I should look like that'.

Maree: I don't beat myself up about it unless it's something really personal, like if it's exercise-wise or no alcohol for a month and if I break that promise to myself, that goal, then I do get upset about it.

Sarah: I've definitely felt that guilt, if you don't quite make a goal you've set for yourself.

Kate: I'm quite relaxed about achieving things – it doesn't really matter what that is.

Sarah: That's a really good attitude to have. I do think we women can really beat ourselves up about it, if we don't accomplish the goals we set, and then you can make a situation that's actually a positive into a negative, really quickly.

Andrea: But I think also you can have realistic goals – if it's an exercise thing like running again. I used to run, so I put my name down for a 10km run and I started training a month ago. I've now put that in my list of unrealistic goals. I'm annoyed with myself because I can do it but it's not a priority in my life right now.

Kate: I like going to the gym, I can do that. Let's just be realistic about it because actually I know I won't keep a food diary so I've decided not to. Subconsciously, I know what I'm eating.

Sarah: I quite like to keep a food diary because I feel it holds me accountable. Like today, for example, I accidentally had a piece of triple chocolate brownie. I just had to – it was freshly baked by my mum.

Andrea: I did a food diary once and wrote 'More champagne than I care to remember' after a night out'!

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