Focus and Structure and Goals, Oh My!

I’ve had this post title in mind for about 6 or 7 years, inspired by a conversation then with a long-time favorite colleague. Now is apparently just the right time to share it. :)

At the time, we were wrestling with the concepts of being unscheduled and unstructured to stay in the intuitive flow and to follow the energy of what was coming up. We were also talking about not wanting to feel limited by “defining” a niche. My friend didn’t want to be tied down by “focus and structure and goals.” As she said it, an “Oh My!” popped involuntarily from my mouth, à la The Wizard of Oz. We both laughed.

Structure Can Feel Like Death

To an intuitive, right-brained, creative genius, setting up schedules and picking goals can feel like a death-knell.

And yet so can not being paid well for your creative work. Or not getting the clients you want or feeling the satisfaction of seeing the project through ALL THE WAY to completion.

As a Big Dreamer and also a Big Doer, I love to Get Stuff Done.

But isn’t it funny how our Big Dreams can take a back seat to managing the minutiae of life? It’s all too easy for me to get swept up into catch-up work and meeting other people’s needs (School of Service, watch out) before meeting my own.

That’s where focus, structure, and goals can be quite handy.

Tools to Go

Here are a few of concepts that help me tremendously:

  1. Recognize when you’re procrastinating on the big stuff by taking care of the little stuff, and nip that in the bud.
  2. Put the “hard thing” first in the day and the rest will be downhill from there.
  3. Get clear on what your Big Dream is, commit to it, and make it a priority (see number 2).
  4. Block out specific chunks of time in your calendar to DO the Big Dream. I just made space in my calendar for my Big Writing projects. So far, going okay — a few temper tantrums and some conscious choices, but all good.
  5. Avoid multitasking (I still struggle with this one — it’s so easy for me to try to do multiple things at once but I know it doesn’t really work).
  6. If you can’t do the BIG thing for as long as you had planned, just do a LITTLE bit of it to keep the energy moving forward (Thanks, Miriam!)
  7. Stay accountable. Get a partner or join a group or participate in my weekly accountability group (see below) to help keep the commitment to yourself.


Big Dream Actioneering

And speaking of weekly accountability:

Once I’m done with my traveling this week, I plan to get into a regular rhythm of posting about my own progress on my Big Dream — writing my screenplay. I’ll post on a weekly basis and I’ll invite you join in and celebrate your progress and challenges as well.

For now, I’m going to post this here:

Challenges: It was HARD getting myself to write in the midst of all the busyness. Last week I was getting ready for my Voice Your Vision retreat and this week I’m getting ready to leave for Los Angeles (in just a couple of hours!). Making my writing a priority has not been easy. Knowing you all were out there waiting for me to report in about it helped. :)

Progress: I DID write. I made one conscious choice not to write on one of the days I had blocked out for writing so I could breathe a little easier about my other projects. But the other days I did write, and it felt great! My story has already evolved significantly and I think the title will shift as well. Good thing to find out. :) My characters are shaping up nicely and I am full of visual ideas and story milestones. So I’m looking forward to being back in the saddle again next week when my schedule settles down a bit.

How about you? What did you accomplish with your Big Dream this week?


In the spirit of Havi Brooks’ “Comment Zen,” I have this request:

Since I am exploring how to be more transparent, raw, vulnerable, and in my full, messy delicious creative energy in my posts, here’s what I would love to hear:

  • How you personally are doing whatever I’m writing about for yourself.
  • How my writing sparks something for you.
  • About your own stories, ideas, musings, and wonderings.

And I would love to skip:

  • You feeling like you need to take care of me, give me useful suggestions, or other well-meaning but unsolicited advice.

Thank you!


What’s Jenna Up To?

~> January 27th & 28th, 2011. Powerful Strategies to Slay Your Inner Critic Demons So You Can Leap Into the Creative Spotlight.” Appearing as a guest expert at Baeth Davis’s “Claim Your Spotlight” program in Los Angeles, California.

~> NEW DATE: February 22, 2011. Virtual Workshop: Claim Your Calling: 5 Steps To Get You Back On Track With What You Were Put Here To Do. Details. Early registration ends February 11th.



  1. I’ll join you in the Challenge/Progress reporting…
    Thanks for the safe and sacred space to do this, Jenna!

    Challenge: My Vision is HUGE! I have a hard time calling it good for now, for today.
    Progress: I’ve given voice to my Vision and have allowed it to be witnessed by you, Jenna, and the fellow participants at this weekend’s Voice Your Vision retreat. This was and remains powerfully vibrant within me — I feel more driven to live my purpose than ever before. I’m getting closer to going public with a whole professional image change! I’m finding myself daydreaming about bringing my vision to my business — unbelievable! My imagination is more alive than ever!
    Thanks, Jenna!!

  2. Here is what I accomplished regarding my Big Dream this week: Went to my therapist and gained deeper clarity on what is blocking me from pursuing my dream, then spent a bit of time each day on it. So far the only progress I have seemingly made is to get really clear about what is keeping me from it, and all the creative ways I have kept that going over the years, lol! This next week feels like a breakthrough is coming to me, as I simply can no longer abide the old methods of staying in fear. Thanks for offering this forum for living our Big Dreams!


  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jenna Avery, Miriam Ortiz y Pino. Miriam Ortiz y Pino said: It is nice to be relevant @jennaavery Focus and Structure and Goals, Oh My! – […]

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