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Celebrating Cephalopods – My Motivating Metaphor For 2024

Written by: Catherine Finger, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Catherine Finger

As I was looking back over miracles and missteps flourishing in my life during 2023, it occurred to me that I have eight rock solid priority areas in my life that I wanted to nurture, protect, and develop more powerfully in 2024. Perhaps as a result of moving to New England, or maybe due to my life-long love of the ocean, the image of an octopus sprang to mind. Exploring this slippery image led me to wonder exactly how many priorities I was holding space for in my life.

Beautifu blue octopus

You guessed it: eight! Eight areas that make my heart sing—that I find myself fiercely protective around—and that I will not give up for the lure of any other investments of time, love, or money.

I spent the next few hours learning how to sketch the glorious creature, and then began adding in my goal areas on each arm. The more I played around—the more I liked this metaphor as a planning tool for 2024. Think about it: the octopus has eight flexible appendages. Each of them is sectioned, each contains suckers—which can be symbolic of the various stages and subcategories for each of my own eight priority areas for 2024. Even if a horrible accident should happen—like a boat propeller taking off one of its arms—given enough time and the right healing conditions, the octopus arm will regrow. Another great metaphor for failure and do-overs contained within the mystery of this magnificent animal! Last but not least, the awesome octopus has three hearts—aligning perfectly with my personal faith in a triune God.

In defining each of my eight goal areas, I borrowed an idea from Michael B Stanier on only saying YES to the “10’s” in my life. Which means I am both free and compelled to release anything in my life that falls short of a solid “10” in terms of my personal and professional priorities. Saying no to anything that ranks a “9.9” or below opens up a lot of space in my life—offering me more time and energy to devote to my eight priority areas and to just give myself the gift of more unstructured time.

In addition to the powerful “10’s only” approach to my commitments and priorities, for each of my eight priority areas I’ve created three levels of goals. The first level is what I think of as my “do or die.” What needs to be accomplished in order to meet this goal? For example, in my Writing goal area, one of my first level goals is meeting my daily word count. This goal happens or doesn’t happen—it is met, or it is not met. It’s a foundational goal upon which all other writing-related goals are built.

The second level goal is a stretch goal, built upon a foundational goal (of my daily word count.) A great stretch goal in my writing category is to publish an article a month (like the one you’re reading!) Given that I am hitting my daily word count, committing myself to a schedule that includes deadlines for both completing and submitting articles is a logical—though challenging—next step for me.

My third level of goal setting involves a concept borrowed from Jim Collins: Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals—or BHAGS. A BHAG for me in the writing arena is completing and submitting a book this year. Once again, this goal stands upon my stretch goal of writing and submitting articles—which in turn is fueled by my first level goal of meeting my daily word count.

This three-tiered approach is woven into all eight of my 2024 goals and has the added benefit of allowing me more margin in my life as I have freedom to choose which goal level(s) to pursue. When I don’t have the time, confidence, or energy to knock out a chapter in my book—I can circle back to my daily word count goal, taking comfort in this solid routine and reengaging with my creative force without the constant pressure to produce.

What are you doing to support yourself in your priority areas this year? I hope this idea of establishing tiered goals offers you the freedom and spark to continue to grow into the person you were uniquely designed to be and become. And here’s hoping you find a metaphor that brings you joy and leads you into a place of celebration as the year unfolds.

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Catherine Finger Brainz Magazine

Catherine Finger, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Award-winning author Catherine Finger contributes to the well-being of others by offering executive, personal, and author coaching services. Throughout her career as a public-school leader, mentoring current and emerging leaders was one of her greatest joys. This experience, coupled with her passion to instill hope for leadership, love, and life led her to launch Loving the Leading, an executive coaching and consulting business in 2020. Her years of successful experience as an educational leader, board member, adjunct professor, award-winning author, law enforcement chaplain and community leader equip her with unique insights and deep intuition on both organizations and individuals. During her educational career



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