How to achieve your big goals when you’re a Mum

I’ve written before about how it’s tricky to achieve your big goals when you’re a mum. In seasons of newborns and toddlers I’ve written goals down in January that I’ve literally never even looked at again until December.

It’s hard to explain to anyone who isn’t in this season that time just goes. Inexplicably. To everyone and everything else other than you.

Yet it also can be a season of boredom. Where you feel like you’re spinning your wheels in the repetitive mundane tasks of the home while your creative dreams sit frustratingly idle on the side.

achieve your big goals

Throughout the last 12 years of mothering I’ve always tried to have my own personal goals that I’ve worked towards. Always slowly, and often at night or in the wee hours of the morning.

That first year as a mother I would often find myself frustrated by how little I’d achieved for myself each day. Sometimes it was only ten minutes of something, other days I’d sneak an hour or two between making meals, entertaining little people or the endless getting-them-to-sleep battles.

I was frustrated on the daily but when I zoomed out I could see that some progress was still progress. I was taking tiny baby steps but over years they grew and grew. (Ironically alongside my children who grew before my eyes).

(If you’d prefer to listen to this article you’ll find the podcast version of “how to achieve your big goals as a Mum” below.)

In the last 12 years I’ve…

  • finished a Masters degree.
  • started and grew a profitable online business.
  • made hundreds of YouTube videos
  • written hundreds of blog articles and emails.
  • written and published a book.
  • taught hundreds of yoga classes in person and online.

I don’t tell you this to brag. I tell you this so you will know that you can make progress, even if the time you have each day to work on them is very small.

In all that time I’ve never had a day where I’ve felt like I achieved everything I’ve wanted to. Usually I’m left wanting for more time. Desperately wishing for more time in the flow of my creative work.

But I’ve learnt that I can either feel frustrated by the lack of time, or lean into the gifts of my reality. This season demands that I’m crystal clear on what I’m working towards and why. And makes it so obvious that the path to making meaningful creative work is not the uninterrupted creative cave, but rather within the pockets of time within the ebb and flow of busy daily life.

How to achieve your big goals when you’re a Mum

I thought it might be helpful to share some of the ways that I’ve been able to keep moving towards my big goals, even when motherhood takes most of my energy and time.

Each of the tips I’m going to talk about have an action step I’d strongly encourage you to take. Think of this like a workshop on how to achieve your goals.

Grab a pen and paper and take the time to reflect on each of the areas so that you can take action. Honestly, taking action and not spending all my time just thinking about what I want to do is the main thing that helps me to continue to move forward. Let this be the start of your action.

Create a clear vision.

It’s really hard to make progress towards your goals if you don’t really know what you’re working towards.

Clarity around what you’re trying to do or create has the be the first step. We often want to rush through this part. It feels uncomfortable to be in the not knowing. Instead, let yourself be in the unknown. Follow your curiosity.

Keep exploring what you’re interested in until you have a clear idea of what you’re working towards. Knowing exactly why you’re wanting to achieve your goals will help you to actually make the time for your creativity within the mundanity of motherhood.

When I have a clear goal to work towards I can actually focus and get something done, even when I only have ten minutes. When I was writing my book. I knew that any spare moment was going to be used to write some more words on the chapters and sections I’d laid out.

When my goals have been more vague and broad, it’s harder to focus when I’ve only got a short time to work. Where do I even start when there are so many things I could be doing?

Instead, narrowing your vision to focus on one area helps to keep you moving forwards.

Progress will also feel more satisfying because you’re continuing to push forward and see results in one area instead of trying to do all the things all at once.

Action step:

Choose one personal goal that you’d like to work towards right now. Take the time to vision it out.

What will it look and feel like when you’re done.

Who will you need to be to achieve this goal?

What habits and routines will you need to have to do this?

Why do you want to achieve this goal?

Review your progress monthly or quarterly, not daily or weekly.

If I were to assess the progress I made each day, I would give up on my business. Instead I try to look back and reflect on a monthly or quarterly basis. That’s enough time (that even in the worst months), I can make progress. Even when the kids have been sick, or I’ve had teething babies; just ten minutes each day can add up to a lot of work over 30 days.

But if I judged my work each day based on the one paragraph I wrote or the one idea I wrote down I would have given up by now. Give yourself the motivation of zooming out and noticing what you can do over the long term rather than getting frustrated over how little you can do in the short term.

It’s like that saying “we overestimate what we can do in a day, but underestimate what we can achieve in a year.”

Action step:

Plan a monthly or quarterly review. Each month or quarter, take the time to review what you’ve been able to achieve and plan what is realistic to complete in the coming month and quarter. Review your progress against the goal list and be compassionately honest with yourself about how you went. Use this time to celebrate your successes and get clear about the action you need to take in the next month or quarter to move closer to your goals.

Work at a pace that fits the season of motherhood you’re in.

The way (and how much) you work towards your goals should look different depending on the season of motherhood you’re in. During the newborn phase you might only write ideas or draft creative projects on your phone while you feed your baby. If you’ve got toddlers you might pay a babysitter for an hour or so a week to watch your kids while you do something for yourself. Whereas if your kids are in school age you can afford to put more time and effort into those things you want to achieve.

The trick is not getting ahead of yourself and trying to do too much too soon.

I’ve set myself up to fail many times by trying to do too much. I’d try to work for a couple of hours each day while juggling little ones at home. Inevitably I’d keep it up for a few days before burning out and feeling overwhelmed.

Instead, choose to work at a pace that suits your season. Now that my boys are all in school, it’s not unreasonable to plan to work for a couple of hours each day. Or now that my boys sleep on their own and can amuse themselves when they first wake up, it’s not a crazy idea to work for a few hours in the early morning.

But doing these things when I had babies or toddlers didn’t work with my life. Too many times I’d be interrupted and then feel frustrated that I’d bothered to get up early, only to not achieve anything anyway.

Action step:

Take an audit of your time over the course of the week. Write down what you do every hour or so over the course of a week.

Are there any spaces where you could fit in some time to work towards your goals. Remember it doesn’t have to be large chunks of time. It could be ten minutes here or there. Some Mums use one nap for themselves and the other for catching up on the work at home.

I personally can’t do anything creative or challenging after about 3pm so I always plan to work early to mid-morning. On the days I work outside the home counselling, I try to get an hour or so of work done before I leave. On the two days that I work from home, I always plan to complete the creative work (filming, writing, editing) before midday because that’s when I am the most productive.

You need to find what works for you.

Be honest about where your time is actually going.

If I’m being honest, social media takes up a lot of my time. I enjoy it. It inspires me and also feels like a rest from the busyness of life. But it also wastes a shit load of my time.

I can easily sit down with my phone to work and lose an hour to scrolling on Insta or watching YouTube videos. When you work in an online space, it’s easy to lie to yourself about how being online “is working”.

But is it really? Or are you just wasting time. Be honest about whether you really have no time and how much you’re spending on socials. Even if you just swapped half an hour of time that you usually spend on social media working on your goals, you’d be amazed with how much progress you’d make in a month.

Action step:

Over the next week take note of how much time you spend on social media. You can do this manually by writing down every time or you can also use apps like Rescue Time which will track what your social media usage.

Once you know what time you actually have to work with, you can start allocating some of that time towards achieving your goals

For me, I really want to write more this year. I used to love blogging but as I’ve started making more videos, writing has fallen way. But also, as social media grew it feels easier to sit down to scroll on Instagram, than it does to prioritise the time it takes to sit and think in order to write.

This year I’ve set myself the goal to write 500 words each day. Non-negotiable. I have a habit tracking app on my phone where I mark how many days in a row I’ve done this. I don’t even get my computer out to write. I write the 500 words on my phone. Whenever I find myself reaching for socials I ask “have you written 500 words today yet?”

If I haven’t written my 500 words by 5pm each day, I don’t let myself use social media until it’s done. It’s working for me so far.

Think about how you could create some rules for yourself around your social media. Maybe you can’t open Instagram until you’ve done your one task for the day that helps you get closer to your goals. Or perhaps you make it so that you sign out of social media during the week so that you can focus on what is really important to you.

There’s no right or wrong way to do this but many of the women I work with 1:1 struggle with how much time they waste on social media. It’s time be honest with yourself about how much time you waste on socials.

Break down your goals into a task list.

When your goal feels intangible and vague it’s hard to make real progress towards them on a daily basis. “Getting fit” is too broad and vague. Instead, how are you going to measure “fit?” Do you want to be fit enough to run a marathon, or do you want to be able to run around in the park with your kids?

Write down how you’re going to get there. What are the habits you need to be doing to get there (and to stay there). If a “fit person” is someone who moves their body every day, than that’s the habit that you need to be working towards. Let yourself move slowly towards that. Start by doing something for ten minutes each day and gradually increase it from there.


Choose one of your goals and break it into the smallest possible tasks. For example when I’m creating a YouTube video I break it down into something like this.

Plan video/ research.

Write script.

Write shot list.


Rough cut edit.

Final Edit.

Create thumbnail and write description.

Upload and schedule.

Promote to socials.

If I were to just write the title of the video on my to do, I would inevitably feel overwhelmed and not know where to start. Instead I write down the smallest possible tasks. This was especially important when my babies were little and I might only have ten minutes pockets of time to work.

In ten minutes I could make a rough plan for my video or do some research. If I was faced with completing the whole video, I would feel like I didn’t have enough time and I’d just keep putting it off until later.

These are the things that have kept me moving towards my goals in the last decade of mothering. Honestly, just keep moving slowly forwards (even when you’re only taking baby steps and you feel like you’re not getting anywhere.)

Where to now?

Listen to this podcast episode.

Join my Motherhood and Business Mentoring to get clear on your big vision.

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