Focus On This Podcast

172. Slow Down to Speed Up: Goal-Setting During Crazy Seasons



Sometimes the quickest way isn’t the best way. While it would be very fast to simply write a list of goals on December 31st and then just hope that they work out, the research proves that it’s not an effective way to reach your goals. The Full Focus System is built on the idea that you have to slow down at the beginning (and periodically throughout the year) so that you can achieve your goals both faster and with less stress.

Blake and Courtney share with you two allies that you can use to help you through this busy season.

Also, Courtney speaks with Full Focus Certified Pro and author, Beth Stanley. She shares how the Full Focus Planner kept her grounded during a very difficult season in her life.

In this episode, you will learn how to:

  • Use your calendar in a way to keep you on track
  • Ask others for support in your goal-achievement journey
  • Hear how the planner provides clarity for not only your future, but your past

To view this episode on YouTube, visit

This is the perfect time to join the Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook. Not only will you be able to see other planner users end of year wins, but you’ll be able to share your own. It’s the perfect way to put some of the lessons of this episode into practice.

For more podcasts, visit


Episode Transcript

Blake Stratton:
So, Courtney, do you ever feel the energy let down after Thanksgiving and Christmas and you finished the end of the year work wise? Do you ever feel that energy come down?

Courtney Baker:
Well, yeah, I think so because I think you go through that busy season, you know there’s reprieve at the end. So you’re like, “Just keep going.” So you get some time to stop.

Blake Stratton:
The reason I ask that is because we’re right there at the end of the year and I could feel that personally just like, “Oh, okay, it’s finally done.” And there’s one thing that’s really important to do that I think we can overlook because it’s the craziness of the holidays, we feel like we’ve invested all the time we can invest in terms of getting work or personal stuff done. But this is the critical time of year, a great time of year to set goals. But I think, if you’re like me, it can sometimes feel like you have this energy let down and you go, “Gosh, how can I actually fit this in? Do I even want to fit this in? Is it worth making an actual effort here at this point?” And the short answer is, yes, it is.

Courtney Baker:
Well, I think the other side of that coin is you fall into the trap of a New Year’s resolution and you just jot something down. I’m going to work out every day this year and then January 15 you’re not working out. And that starts to speak to what we talked about last year of that can start to create limiting beliefs about you and goals when, like you and I would say, well, I don’t think that really was a goal. You didn’t quite invest what was needed at the beginning to make a goal.

Blake Stratton:
Exactly. And this is important because, if you’re listening, it may feel like the last thing you have time for or want to make space for, is an extended period of time or process to be intentional about setting goals. And it feels like, you know what, it’ll be easier, it will be better if I just do that later. But that’s the trick is that in a week, in a couple of weeks, normal life picks back up. And I don’t know if this has happened to you before, Courtney, I’ve done that before, I was like, “Okay, I just need to whatever. I’ll do that later. I’ll think about that later.” And then all of a sudden it’s the third week of January or it’s the middle of the first quarter and it feels like my year almost had a false start type of feeling to it because I just start going and picking back up.
But I feel a little bit less clarity, a little bit less direction, and the energy that can come from that clarity and direction. And I go, “I wish that I had actually taken the time earlier to get clear because it actually will slow you down in the long run if you don’t have that clarity. So that’s what we’re going to talk about today is, if you feel low on energy or if you feel like you’re just coming down from the craziness of holiday season, how can you do goal setting right now before next year picks up? We’ve got two allies, things that are going to be in your corner to help you make it happen.

Courtney Baker:
Welcome to another episode of Focus On This, the most productive podcast on the internet so you can banish distractions, get the right stuff done, and finally start loving Mondays. I’m Courtney Baker here with Blake Stratton. Happy Monday, Blake.

Blake Stratton:
Happy Monday, Courtney. It’s good to be here with you. This is one of my favorite times of the year personally as we get to thinking about the next year doing a little bit of goal setting, but it can be a little overwhelming for some. So how can we make space, make the space to actually set goals and not, as you say, just riff on a shooting from the hip of New Year’s resolution?

Courtney Baker:
Okay, so the first tool that you can leverage is your calendar. We talk about this all the time when it comes to your productivity anyways, but it’s certainly true here. A lot of times when it comes to your goals, what gets scheduled gets done. So carving out the time on your calendar to dive in, to reflect, and to hope for 2023 is so important. This is really an investment. Again, if you think about the things that you might want to achieve next year, if you place yourself at the end of next year actually achieving those, I think you would say that is worth the time upfront to spend thinking and reflecting and crafting those well. Again, you can just schedule time to do this. You can certainly join us for Best Year Ever Live on January 6th. And the great thing is it’s on your calendar. That event, it’s not moving. And you can do that by going to, or you certainly can just block off the time at any point at the end of December, very early January to set aside the time to do your goal setting.

Blake Stratton:
This is the type of thing where you can’t wait until you’ve got an open opportunity. You can’t expect to have just the spare time to go deep and think about what kind of goals you want to set and get clear on that. Put it in your calendar. It will feel inconvenient in the short term, but it will make everything easier, faster, more simple for literally the rest of the next year. That’s how high leverage it is to put it in your calendar. So make sure you do that. The second tool you can leverage isn’t so much a tool as it is people. The next thing I want to mention here outside of your calendar that can help is community. Maybe you’ve experienced this. When it’s completely up to you to get the energy to ramp back up after the holidays or to get the energy to do something that’s out of the ordinary, you’re not in the habit of just taking half a day or a whole day to work on setting your goals, employing the help of others that have a common goal, no pun intended, to do that is so valuable.
And it’s valuable really for two reasons. One, it creates accountability and, to me, it’s the best accountability, or at least one of my favorite kinds of accountability because it’s not about you performing and then if you don’t, you get a slap on the wrist type of thing. It’s actually that when you set goals with others, they’re moving in the same direction. I remember the first time I did this was actually my first year, Courtney, working with Full Focus. I’d never done a goal setting time when there’s other people around me doing that as well. And you know what happened? It went a lot faster. It went a lot faster. Because I wasn’t alone it, I was less likely to get distracted. I was less likely to riff on something or to let discouragement cause me to spin out and do something else. Just being around other people who are doing it creates this natural accountability.
And second, it’s also encouraging. You feed off the energy of other people. You can share what you’re thinking with someone. And a lot of times setting a goal, it ought to be risky. It ought to be vulnerable. It ought to feel like, I’m not so sure I could do this. Man, it is helpful to have somebody else there to talk to or to share with to affirm what’s possible for you because, if not, you are prone to dial back your own ambitions for fear of failure or some other reason. So it creates accountability, it creates some encouragement, and you have that connection with other people that can really drive you in a positive direction so that this investment that we’re talking about of taking time to set goals is easier, faster, and more fun.

Courtney Baker:
I also think, if you’re someone that struggles with certain life domains, maybe there’s certain areas that you’re just like, “I can’t even think of a goal there,” you’re just not inclined to focus on it, that’s an area where other people can give you ideas or you hear the goals that they’re crafting. I can’t tell you how many times this has happened that I’ve been like, “Ooh, that is so good and I am stealing that.” So yeah, I think this is such a great tool to have in your toolbox. And not to plug Best Year Ever again, but that’s why I love going through that material with other people.
I say all the time, I don’t know how people even use the Full Focus planner without going through our Full Focus Goal Setting Course or coming to Best Year Ever Live because the discipline, the time, the intentionality of going through those steps, again, it pays off all year long.

Courtney Baker:
Today, I have Beth Standlee, one of our Full Focus planners, certified pros joining me.
Beth, it’s so great to have you. Will you just share a little bit about who you are and how you got started using the Full Focus planner?

Beth Standlee:
Sure. Thank you so much. Well, first of all, I will say it’s near and dear to my heart, the planner is, for a big reason because I got on the system as a result of losing my mentor. So I’ll share that piece with you. It’s so meaningful. It’s her way, I think, of continuing to influence my life.
Well, first and foremost, Beth Standlee, certified Full Focus Planner Pro and CEO of Trainertainment. We’re a coaching and a training company working in sales, service and leadership across the hospitality industries. And author of “People buy from People,” How to Connect Personally in an Impersonal World.” You can find it on Amazon or on our Trainertainment website.
I joined an organization called Vistage about 2008. Have always been an enthusiastic goal setter and planner. I’ve been in sales all my life, for years, used a Franklin Covey planner. And I think at 14 I told my mom, “I have to have a date book because I’ve got to keep things straight.”
I mentioned Vistage because Nancy Star was my Vistage chair and we moved on and had our own CEO group for years. She coaches me now. One of the ladies in the group, Linda, said, “Oh listen, I found this system and we do daily planning and work on your top three and then weekly review.” And she was telling me all this stuff and she reminds me that my comment was, “Oh good lord, I couldn’t do that. That sounds terrible.” She says, “That’s a story. And I’m not sure I believe it.” But I think she tried to introduce our group in about 2018.
So Nancy had ordered all of it. She had all the books and she had all the stuff. Well, apparently Nancy had ordered all of it. She always got all in no matter what she did. And we lost her to cancer in August of 2019. And as we were there at the home helping her sister go through things, I find this box.
I think I could write this story better than I could tell it. Sorry.
And anyway, I was like, “Hey, Judy, can I have that stuff?” And so I started using the planner straight up.
And I think in certification one of the things we talk about is use a weekly pages, do that piece. And certainly just intuitively, that’s kind of what I started doing. And the prioritization of, “I must get these three things done today no matter what,” on a list it’s got 20 things. It gave me such a sense of accomplishment that I had prioritized the three most important things.
And then I think the thing that really turned me on, and I used just fatefully, was the weekly review and the preview. And that piece began to really, really make a difference. And of course I was using the whole planner. I bet it took me four quarters to see the value of the rolling weeks. I didn’t even understand what that was for. And then once I did get it, it was so incredible because from a linear point of view, I could see, “I can’t do that. If I’m going to do that, I’m not going to be able to do this.”
And so that whole concept of being able to prioritize what makes sense comes into full focus. I don’t use the calendar per se because I’m a Gmail Google calendar. I have to run my life on dates and appointments because something on that task list is merely something to get done. I’ve got to schedule an appointment with myself. But this piece helps keep all those priorities front and center.
I’ll tell you, I haven’t gotten that life plan completely done yet and my life changed so much. 2020 changed everyone, I think. And we all have learned things we couldn’t have learned without it.
My husband passed away in ’21 and so that life plan piece is almost more important today than before be because my life got flipped upside down on its head.
Linda, who I referred to as my coach now, she busted my chops pretty good in at the Q2 planning session because one of the things I had not gotten done was to finish my certification. And she said, “You mean to tell me that your priority and your goal was to finish your Full Focus certification by the end of the first quarter and you didn’t get it done?” And I didn’t. But I did get it done finally about mid-April. And I love it. And it makes all the difference in the world to prioritize. Yeah, I think that’s what it’s about, is this priority. Yeah.

Courtney Baker:
Well, first, I’m sorry for your loss. And what a beautiful story of getting to pick that up and their passion, you getting to experience that for yourself and how much that has come to mean to you now.
I think one thing that I heard you say over and over again was that the planner has really, in some ways, grown with you and been the thing that you’ve needed at different points and different tools within it at different points. And I think that’s a really wonderful story and message for everyone of, again, you don’t have to use every piece of it, but there may be points that you come to where there’s a tool inside of it that you’ve never really paid attention to, but actually is exactly what you need for that time.
And I think for everybody listening, I think there’s so many times that you might be sharing, “Hey, this tool has really impacted my life. I think it would be a great tool,” that sometimes their initial response is what we would call limiting belief. They out of the gate are like, “I can’t do that. That feels like too much.” Beth, that’s kind of what your story was.
And I think over and over we have said it might just be like, “Hey, just experiment with it.” Or just let them know, “Hey, if you only do the daily pages, forget everything else, you are going to find tremendous success.” And sometimes that’s enough for them to take the step and try it out.

Beth Standlee:
I have my quarters up here behind me and I can look through the progression and see, “Oh, I didn’t even know what to do with that,” All the way through certification, because I absolutely learned so much through certification and it upped my game. And the userability piece. And then that ups your focus.
The second quarter of this year, and like I said, I finished right at the beginning of the second quarter. Although I’m the CEO of the company, I’m really responsible for lots of sales too. And I had the biggest sales quarter that I have had this year. I had a lot on my plate and managed to get more than 80% of the goals I set for myself at the beginning of the quarter completed. And all those things you can go, “Okay next time. Here we go. We can do more.”
I think people who are in leadership roles are typically high performers and really hard on themselves. And the practice, the weekly practice of saying, “Where were my wins this week?” really bring it home to me because we don’t do it enough. We think about all that we didn’t get done la la la, la. And man, it’s wonderful to go back and go, “Oh a hundred percent I did do that.” “80%. Whoops, I didn’t start that one. I’m okay.”
And that for me that probably the weekly review and then the preview of the next week is so great, so great for my planning.
I love it when I have a trip. I love when I have a trip and I have to fly back. If I have to fly on Friday or Saturday, it’s awesome because man, I’ve got that planner. I do some of my best thinking when I’m on the flight. I don’t pull up technology,. I think. I sleep on the way up. I work. No sleep back on the way down. It’s awesome.

Courtney Baker:
That’s awesome. Well I loved what you just said, that word practice of. I think so many times we use a tool like the Full Focus planner and think that we are going to arrive at perfection like that just happens. But for all of us it is an ongoing practice of continually to pursue and using it in a way that works to steward our goals and move us forward in the things that we’re wanting to achieve. And I just think that’s a great way to frame up using the tool as a practice.
Beth, one of the things that you mentioned to us was just in the moments of loss and grief, how you utilize the planner in those seasons. And I think it would just be helpful if you would be up for sharing a little bit of insight into that.

Beth Standlee:
Sure. Sure. And it’s a great question and I think it’s at a great time because I think our world has really gone through some griefful. I mean, 2020 brought us all things we couldn’t have known. And my husband actually passed away of COVID. And so I have that griefful experience. And one of the best things that I do for myself is to write and to journal.
And during that time I certainly was not planning to do anything except get through the day. He got sick and was hospitalized on January 25th and passed away on February the 24th. And as numb as I was the habit, because I’ve been using the planner from 2019 forward. So how many quarters is that? The habit and the cadence, which is a great word, isn’t it, I grabbed it.
I had grabbed my planner most mornings. There wasn’t much to do. I couldn’t go to the hospital. They wouldn’t let me in there at that time. But I could write. I could journal about it. And what’s been interesting post is I can go back. It’s not like that eight or 10 weeks of my life are absent. And I don’t have things on every day’s page or anything like that. But I have a lot of gratefulness stuff.
I think anybody that’s had that kind of loss knows there’s a real thing… I think they call it widows fog or whatever, but there’s a real thing that you just can’t remember anything. And I wrote everything down and it was so helpful because I would get 15 weeks, 18 weeks later and not know. And I could go back to my Full Focus planner and get to the right day and there it was. So yeah, I hope that answers your question.

Courtney Baker:
Yeah. Well, Beth, thank you so much for sharing your story with us. I mean, it’s truly a gift when someone is vulnerable and shares. And I can only imagine that there are people on this podcast listening right now that are going through hard things and can only imagine that just sharing that little piece may be something that gives them a little help in a season of hard. So thank you so much for sharing your story and very vulnerably opening up to the audience.
Beth, thank you so much for joining us on the podcast. It was a real joy to have you with us.

Beth Standlee:
Thank you. It was a real pleasure to be here. Appreciate you asking me.

Blake Stratton:
So today’s tip to level up your focus is to schedule time on your calendar to walk through your goal setting process. And bonus points if you can do this with a group of like-minded friends.

Courtney Baker:
And if you want to join us for Best Year Ever Live on January 6th, make sure that you get your ticket at And when you do that, you’ll also get access to our Full Focus Goal Setting Course. I hope to see you there. It’s going to be a great day.

Blake Stratton:
Thank you for joining us on Focus On This.

Courtney Baker:
This is the most productive podcast on the internet, so share it with your friends. And don’t forget to join us over in the Full Focus Planner Community on Facebook. We’ll be back next Monday with another great episode. Until then, stay focused.

Blake Stratton:
Stay focused.

Nick Jaworski: