Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates

Related Resources

For The Havening Techniques®

Managing Anticipatory Worry through Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals

Why do we worry about things in the future? Our brain is designed to focus us on all of the worst case scenario stories (this is called negative bias) in order to to make sure we have a plan of action for whatever will happen. The problem with fear-based worst-case scenario stories is that they are often scary and our amygdala will inadvertently trigger us into cycles of anxious rumination, fear, and even feelings of freeze (e.g. procrastination, fatigue, depression, and worse). In this video Dr. Kate explores anticipation anxiety as well as future-focused worry and introduces a concept known as setting S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Guided Meditation for Calming Anxiety about Family During the 2020 Holidays

Boundary setting conversations can be anxiety producing. As the holidays approach and the CDC, WHO, and health experts are continuing to reinforce the necessity for us to find connection through safe distance, our amygdala may be kicking up some feelings about wanting to see loved ones or upsetting someone because we’re choosing to stay away in order to protect everyone. Did you know that Amy, our amygdala, spins stories that we will be abandoned or rejected if we set boundaries? This can make difficult conversations even more painful to have. Through welcoming the self-havening touch, CPR for the Amygdala, and the Creating Possibilities Protocol we can harness the opportunities of neuroplasticity to soothe the fear and empower us live our best lives.

Navigating Family Pressures During the 2020 Holidays with Success

Join Dr. Kate in this video for some quick tips on how to set healthy boundaries, make choices that feel comfortable for you, while actually creating connection with your family members.

Dr. Kate will discuss such tips as:

  • Communicating boundaries from a place of love
  • Creating connection within the distance
  • New opportunities for family reminiscing
  • Showing up in the small ways to show your love
  • And more!

Holidays are traditionally a time of family connection and the unique experiences of 2020 add new layers of stress and pressure. With the variety of different points of view regarding how to stay safe during these holidays, feeling comfortable setting boundaries and doing these differently this year may feel hard (if not impossible). Connection, love, and support is possible with we make intentional and loving choices.

Navigating Grief and Loss During the Holiday Season

This holiday season many of us will be experiencing the holidays having lost someone we love.  Grief during the holidays often feels more piercing due to the cascade of traditions and memories that come with the holidays. In this video Dr. Kate shares about the experiences of grief, love, and loss and provides healing tools for navigating the holidays with a deep honoring for both loss and life. Dr. Kate Truitt is no stranger to the nature of grief and loss. Dr. Kate’s partner of 10 years unexpectedly died one week before their wedding in 2009. Listen in as she shares fundamental tips that helped her navigate the first Holiday season without her partner and best friend of 10 years.

How do You Plan to Top This Year?

By Dr. Kate Truitt

Whew! Has this been a challenging year for you? I will take a guess and say that it has. Are you looking forward to brighter days ahead? Have you started thinking about what your new year will look like?

As I touched on in our previous blog article, the holidays can be considered as part of a process that progresses throughout the year, and during this time we often look back at how well, or not so well, things have gone during the past 12 months. In this extraordinarily difficult year, unlike in many others, many of those things that didn’t go so well were beyond your ability to foresee or control.

As the end of 2020 rapidly nears, it is time for thinking forward toward your goals for the new year, whether you want to call them resolutions or not. For many reasons that I won’t go into detail here, 2021 promises to present less of those situations that take the control of our destiny out of your hands. In this article I want to show you how to put control over your goals into your hands and provide you with tools to help you reach them. Let’s start with your motivation for setting them.

What Motivates Your plans for the future

When I ask people to tell me what their overarching personal goal in life is, they most often say, “happiness,” or “to be happy,” or some version of that sentiment. So, let’s unpack that motivation, because it is likely central to any goals you might make for your new year, and it provides a good starting point for creating goals.

Happiness is much more than a mood. In fact, the concept itself is the focus of a complete branch of study known as positive psychology. Different people describe it in various ways, but happiness is generally defined by those working in positive psychology as “a state of well-being that encompasses living a good life, one with a sense of meaning and deep contentment.”

Happiness also manifests itself in different ways, two in particular that likely relate to your goals: internal and external happiness. Which one are you seeking as you create goals for the new year?

Can you tell the difference between them? There is one. Luckily, it is simple to explain, and crucial for creating goals that guide us toward long-term and sustainable well-being. Simply, internal happiness is authentic, and it lasts. It comes from within and helps you survive the trials and tribulations of life. External happiness is transient, often defined by the outside world as something that “should make life better.”

To make this more personal to you, think of one thing that you are seeking in your life. Something you believe, in your heart of hearts, that if you just had this you would be “happy.” This may be something such as a life partner, being thin, having the right car, or having the right house. Then, ask yourself two critical questions, filling in the blank what the above identified construct:

“What in my life will authentically be different once I have acquired ____________?”

“How will I authentically be different after I have acquired ____________?”

Turn your attention inward. Think of how many things you currently have in your life that you knew were going to give you happiness. How many of those things actually had that expected effect? Try to reflect on that expectation you had about those things. Has the way you think about those things changed after you acquired them?

Then assess for yourself, is this thing authentically going to lead to my happiness or is that thing going to lead to me once again wanting something else or something more when it doesn’t fulfill the expectation put upon it? Don’t judge yourself in these considerations but keep them in your mind as you go through the following goal-setting exercise. Just remember: the way you anticipate and view your world through your thoughts will define the way you feel about your world.

Now back to looking forward to the new year.

Creating SMART Goals to Move Into Action

When you are setting goals, don’t be too hard on yourself. One way to do that is to set goals that you can actually achieve. One way to develop and move your plan into action is by creating SMART goals. SMART goals are those that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. This widely used acronym is further detailed below in terms of setting goals:

Specific—When setting a goal, use clear, descriptive words.  Words such as “good” or “successful” are not specific.  The more descriptive you are with your goal the clearer it will be to you that you are accomplishing your goal.

Measurable—A goal is measurable when you can tell that you have met it.  Ask yourself, how will I know when I have completed this goal?

Achievable—Are you capable of reaching this goal, even though it may be difficult?  Check to make sure that this goal is not dependent on anyone else.

Realistic—Is this goal reasonable for you at this time?  Are your expectations possibly too high?  Is your goal challenging enough for you?

Timely—Do you have a deadline for when you will have reached this goal?  A timeframe will be helpful in reminding you to work on your goal.

The following is a reminder guide for developing SMART goals:

  1. Write out your goal and check that it meets the criteria for a “SMART” goal.
  2. Identify three baby steps you need to do to begin moving toward accomplishing your goal.
  3. Clarify three roadblocks (or barriers) that may get in the way of your baby steps? (Note: this is not about barriers to your overall goal specifically but rather those that might get in the way of your baby steps.)
  4. Create three plans to overcome your roadblocks.
  5. Answer this question: What is your motivation for setting this goal? Be highly specific. Spend time on this. Explore what the benefit is for you, not for others.
  6. What measures or milestones will you create to help you reach your goal? Include who you will ask to help you achieve your goal.
  7. What reward will you receive/gain by reaching your goal? As humans we love rewards!


You should spend some time examining the “A” and the “R” in the SMART acronym—Achievable and Reasonable—because in these times there may be fundamental roadblocks that may impede our baby steps, some of which are out of your control. For example, some of my clients previously had goals for building a new healthy community around themselves. In the face of the pandemic, accommodations must be made with that goal, because many of the places where people normally go to build community have changed. This also applies to dating or gaining new skills that involve working with a teacher like learning to play an instrument, or working closely with a personal trainer, and the list goes on.

The overarching environment of COVID-19 precautions and restrictions we’re living in now presents specific challenges to how achievable and realistic our goals might be, so we need to keep that in mind. That doesn’t mean you should give up on setting goals for 2021; it just requests flexibility and fluidity—you just need to be SMART about it. You also need to consider that by the fall of next year you may have much more freedom to move around and associate than you have now, and you can plan for that.

The Timely and Measurable aspects of the SMART goals also work hand-in-hand to make a goal Achievable. You don’t just say, “I want to make a million dollars by next week.” That’s probably not going to work out. If you say, “I want to make a million dollars by the end of next year,” and you write it all out and you believe you can apply all the SMART goals, then it just might work. Very few major goals can be achieved immediately, so you need to assign a timeframe to it.   

Let’s say you make a timeline for your goal, whatever it is, of six months. This is helpful, because you can write out those three baby steps, and then within each of those three steps you can embed a SMART goal plan with specific measurement targets along that timeline. Again, just as with your overall goals, detail how you are going to make each one of these baby steps Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

Finding Opportunity Within Your Goals

At Dr. Kate Truitt & Associates our team focuses on helping you build your resilient brain. Goals and making plans are enormously helpful in achieving resilience. As Rick Hanson, one of the world’s foremost experts on happiness, says about resilience: “It helps us survive the worst day of our life and thrive every day of our life.”

Resilience is about purpose, goals and making plans—intentionally having your ongoing goals and following through with them even on the worst day of your life, no matter what happens. Life is uncertain. Your goal is not to become more certain, but to find the opportunity within the uncertainty. I believe that’s what the process of building resilience is all about: It’s a proactive participation in how the brain is working and functioning regardless of the ebbing and flowing of life.

Wishing you an authentically Happy New Year!