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How working for Johnny Depp and Beyonce were part of my Dream Vision and goal setting

Johnny Depp, Beyonce and a Baby: Building A Dream Life With Goal Setting

When my cousin and I were teenagers, we were hanging out at my grandparents farm in Minnesota, dreaming about how great our future lives were going to be.

My big plan involved living in California with an ocean view, driving a convertible and working in Hollywood.

I’d never even been on an airplane in my life, much less visited California…

He was going to start a business, be his own boss, and design and build his dream house with his own two hands.

Our uncle overheard us from the other room and came in with a suggestion. Why didn’t we write our dream predictions down so we could see later if they turned out? He then taped our predictions to the back of the picture hanging above the kitchen table where we were sitting.

Fast forward several years. I’m in my early 20’s and I’ve just arrived home from work. Sorting through a pile of mail, I find a letter from my grandmother in Minnesota.

She writes to tell me that while the farmhouse kitchen was being repainted, they discovered the notes my cousin and I had written.

I looked up from her letter and gazed out my living room window. An enormous orange sunset was dipping into the Pacific Ocean.

I’d just driven home from work in my Volkswagen Golf convertible. My job? Working as Johnny Depp’s press assistant in Hollywood.

Meanwhile, my cousin had started his own successful heating and refrigeration business and had just designed and built his dream house.

This woke me up to the amazing power of having a dream and writing it down like it’s really gonna happen! 

The second pivotal moment in my goal setting journey came along soon after that.

Johnny Depp decided to leave the TV show that had turned him into a teen heartthrob sensation. I thought he was nuts to leave 21 Jump Street at its prime peak and pursue a career in movies. Still stinging from the realisation I was about to lose my job, I muttered behind his back, ‘He’ll never make it.’

Yes, I’ve eaten those words for breakfast, lunch and dinner ever since.

However, my next dream job was just around the corner. A creative, fun position in music video production for Capitol Records – overlooking the Hollywood sign, just like in the postcard I’d had hanging in my bedroom for years!

It was here that my new boss gave me several cassette tapes to copy (we are talking 1990…) The tapes were an audio series by a motivational speaker named Brian Tracy and were called ‘The Psychology of Achievement’.

He encouraged me to make a second set of tapes for myself.

I listened to those tapes so many times in my car that they became ingrained in my brain! Never before had I heard anyone speak about self-limiting beliefs and how we’re only limited by our own thinking.

I hung on his every word and began writing down my goals and creating action plans to make them happen.

Those cassette tapes moved with me to London, another one of my goals, where I ended up living for 18 years, swearing allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen and getting my British citizenship.

I became a record cover designer, working with big names like Celine Dion, Mariah Carey, Jamiroquai and Destiny’s Child. Beyonce squeezed me and squealed with delight when she saw the design for their first British single on my computer screen.

I thought she and the rest of the girls were lovely, but I told my colleagues, they’d never make it.

Are you seeing a pattern emerge here? I could never be a talent scout!

Once cassette players disappeared from cars and I’d burned-out on Brian Tracy, I moved on to Tony Robbins motivational cd’s.

Tony expanded on my Dream Big mentality and helped me to keep believing that I am limitless and worthy of whatever it is I want in life.

At age 28, I met the man of my dreams. We got married on a cliff-top overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Laguna Beach, California, just as I’d always envisioned.

We bought a nice house and used the fringe benefits of my job in the music industry to go to free concerts and cool parties several nights a week. Life was fun! Life was amazing! It was all going fairytale dreamy until…

cue screeching sound of needle dragging across record

We decided to have a baby.

Well, the decision part was easy. I just wrote down my dream vision of when I ideally wanted to have it, and hubby agreed. I did have a bit of a Should I Stay or Should I Go deliberation over whether to take the generous maternity package Sony Music was offering. But in the end, I mapped out a goal to set up as a freelance graphic designer.

It would be easy. Babies sleep a lot, right? I’d work during nap times and get a part-time nanny three days a week. I interviewed a lovely New Zealand girl and hired her to start as soon as I got home from the hospital.

But after my smooth-sailing pregnancy, the birth was a nightmare. I hadn’t properly addressed my deep fear of childbirth and how that fear would affect the delivery.

Things didn’t get much easier back at home. Breastfeeding was an agony I endured with gritted teeth, bleeding nipples and double mastitis, all while sitting on a donut to stop my stitches from opening.

Sleep deprivation is an evil thing. I’d always been an Eight Hours a Night kinda gal. Even my late nights at concerts were offset by late starting hours at work the next day. I was used to operating close to 100% at all times.

Now my mind and body felt like they were turning against me.

I felt weepy, ugly, uncool and I completely lost my sex drive for a long time after the birth. Some essential part of my being felt lost and I was in such a sorry state that it never occurred to me to write down my goals and dream visions for the months to come. I was just trying to get through one day at a time.

The thought of being responsible for this child for the next 18 years threw me into complete overwhelm.

I loved my son deeply and his smile brought me great joy. I loved being his mother, even if I didn’t like many of the side-effects that came with it.

I cried when I told my husband we could never give our son a brother or sister because I simply could not go through it all again. He told me to give it some time and we dropped the subject.

For one whole year, I lived without goals of my own. I guess I had goals for Max; getting him to sleep through the night, weaning him, taking his first steps, but none of those things were for me.

Thankfully something happened just after his first birthday which got me back into my goal setting frame of mind again.

It was December of the ‘year 2000’, as we all called it. The Sunday Times Style section ran an article called All Change which caught my attention. It featured a photo of a woman writing in a journal which made me suddenly realise that in the blur of my first year of motherhood, my beloved journal writing had fallen by the wayside.

The article was about setting goals and it referred to a book by Jinny Ditzer called Your Best Year Yet. It listed 10 questions to ask yourself, including, What did I accomplish in the past year?, What were my biggest disappointments?, What did I learn?, What is my most important focus for the next year?, What are my top 10 goals?

I grabbed a notebook and began to answer those 10 questions. It sparked something in me that I liked. I was thinking about myself again!

I’m sitting here now reading those answers I’d written 16 years ago and it takes me straight back to that time when I was so discouraged about my life.

Maybe you can relate to some of the biggest disappointments I listed: 

Lack of energy. Lack of organisation. Lack of creativity and motivation. Feeling overwhelmed with constant lists of things to do that never get done. Bored and frustrated on days I have Max to myself. Feel like I’m just passing the time until naps or bedtime. Painful sex leading to disappointments in the bedroom which have not yet been recovered. Feel like I spread myself too thin and don’t do anything well enough. Watching too much TV instead of reading, journal writing, baths, lovemaking, calling friends and family.

Then I wrote: How do I limit myself and how can I stop?

Not being better organised. Need to develop a consistent and effective way to manage my time. How?? Ideas… Devote a notebook to daily lists. Force myself to refer to this notebook every day, revising and prioritising. I must do this no matter what! Discipline! Stop procrastinating on items I feel lazy about. It takes far less time and energy to just do it, rather than feel incredibly guilty about not doing it.

Not creating enough ‘me time’ in the sense of goal setting, journal writing, inspirational reading, yoga, meditative baths, clearing my mind, being reflective. These elements are all a part of what makes me tick. When I allow time for these activities I always feel less stressed, more at peace with myself and the world around me. I don’t like feeling overwhelmed, out of control, bombarded with things to do. Ideas – Start a journal again. Read some chapters in The Artist Way to revive my creativity.

I went on to write: I waste too much time watching telly. Unless something really watchable is on, do something else. Create time for lovemaking, don’t just expect time will appear. It probably won’t. Pamper myself. Burn candles. Create a calm environment. Play chilled music when cooking. Make our home a sanctuary.

My biggest focus for 2001 was: To create a healthy balance in my life; giving more energy to the most important things and people in my life.


And so, my friends, the seed of Project Me was planted. And it’s been growing steadily for 15 years ever since!

If you read my blog and you think I’ve always had my act together and am some kind of super mama, I hope you’ll now see that this has been a process. (And I still don’t always have my act together!) 

My goal setting rituals have morphed into something very powerful and I now teach goal setting to women all over the world who want to dream bigger. I can speed you to a happier place much quicker than you’d ever do alone. It all starts with using the Project Me Life Wheel® to see the 8 Key Areas that make up your life so you can set goals that’ll make a real difference to your happiness. Grab it for free below and get started!

In the comments below, I’d love to hear at least one of your goals for the year ahead. I’ll be here cheering for you every step of the way.


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  1. Kate on January 10, 2016 at 10:14 PM

    As someone who’s done one of your goal setting workshops, I can attest to your talent when it comes to inspiring and motivating people to get clear about what they want and making it happen. I have you to thank for so many of the positive changes I’ve made since then. I still use your strategies and the life wheel and want to thank you for helping me in so many ways. I really enjoyed reading your story and how you got into this line of work! What was Johnny Depp like??

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 11, 2016 at 10:17 AM

      Thanks so much for your lovely words Kate and I’m over the moon to hear how much my workshop inspired you. Keep going for your dreams!

      Johnny Depp….. well, he was VERY young and VERY cute and he had this way of looking you right in the eye in a very intense way as you spoke, as if every word you said was very deeply moving to him. Which was weirdly disconcerting when you weren’t talking about anything very important!

      I was in charge of opening up his huge bags of fan mail, sent in by hormonal teenagers and often accompanied by their soiled panties (ewwww!) or teddy bears.

  2. Tamara on January 10, 2016 at 10:22 PM

    One of my goals this year is to get better organised and manage my time better. I’ve been using your meal planning sheets and your weekly fitness planner and those are really helping me thank you! I love your whole website and want to compliment you on doing such a good job to help us get on top of life. I liked reading your story and how sitting down and writing things down and planning and goal setting has helped you. I’d really like to do your course and am going to look at it again now.

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 11, 2016 at 10:22 AM

      That sounds like a GREAT goal Tamara. Once I got my organisation and time management under control, life improved dramatically for me – and my family.

      It’s about identifying how you want to feel in the productivity area of your life, then breaking it down and creating action steps. I teach all of this in my goal setting course, so I do hope you’ll join in 🙂

  3. Louisa on January 11, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    What a fabulously inspiring post!!! I found myself grabbing my notebook even before I’d finished reading! (We’ve been away for a few weeks and I ran out of diary space, so for the last week I’ve not written a thing. It felt horrible – like a huge part of me was missing!) Thanks for sharing your story. What an amazingly powerful example of the magic of writing your goals down! I’m reading “The Magic” at the moment – thanks for the recommendation. It really works! Ohhh, and you mentioned The Artist’s Way!!! Another magical, magical book for me. Totally life-changing. I hope 2016 is a great year for you, Kelly. I’m really looking forward to reading your book. xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 11, 2016 at 12:16 PM

      Hi Louisa, thanks for your oh-so-lovely comment!

      I hear you on the journal writing and I’m SUPER happy to hear you’ve started The Magic. (As recommended on my We Love page: for anyone wondering.)

      Yes indeed – my Dream Vision for a Project Me book is finally on the cards for this year! Woo hoo!

      Here’s to a great 2016 for you as well 🙂

  4. Catarina on January 11, 2016 at 12:53 PM

    Kelly your posts are the best and your stories always inspire me! Mammas, take this course!!! PS I thought of you last week as I drove past Capitol Records (my sister lives in Hollywood).

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 11, 2016 at 1:39 PM

      Yay Catarina!! 🙂 Glad you sent me some thoughts in front of my old stomping ground. Such happy memories of that iconic round tower! Hope you had a fab trip. xx

  5. Gabrielle on January 11, 2016 at 1:32 PM

    Such great experiences Kelly! Thank you for sharing! Cannot wait to start your course! So excited!

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 11, 2016 at 1:40 PM

      I’m so happy to see your name on my class roster Gabrielle! You are going to ROCK your goals in the year ahead… and beyond! 🙂

  6. Julie on January 14, 2016 at 8:14 PM

    This is a truly inspirational post Kelly. Can I go public with my goal? I want to be a resilience coach. There – I’ve said it. Now I need to start taking those baby steps to get there. Looking forward to starting the course again in January. Xx

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on January 15, 2016 at 8:30 PM

      I’ve just googled what Resilience Coaching means and came up with: Resilience is sometimes misunderstood as the ability to be armoured against difficulty. It isn’t. It is the capacity to remain flexible in thoughts, behaviours and emotions when under stress. That stress may come from a one-off event, such as career setback. It can also come from being exposed to relentless demands over a period of time. The demands of being asked to do more, quicker, with less resource and with no end in sight. Resilience coaching is instead interested in:

      What is different for you about this situation
      The narrative you have created about yourself in relation to this situation
      The resilience gap
      Helping you address a new narrative that will address that gap
      Enacting that new narrative

      Julie – I love this! And I want you to succeed in your goal, not only for you, not only for the people you will no doubt help, but also so you can come and be a guest blogger on the subject for Project Me! It truly sounds amaazing and I’m looking forward to helping you break it all down into step by steps in my course so you can make it happen!

  7. Christina on February 5, 2016 at 2:33 PM

    It’s a shame it’s the 5th Feb and I only just saw this…Like you say though, why wait another year to get started!? I’m going to take action based on the snippets you shared in the blog for now.

    I would also love to know your thoughts on the extent to which goal setting helps with sticking to one idea or one thing. Many ‘wantrepreneurs’ I know (including / especially me!) are full of ideas that we stick with for 5 minutes before the fear sets in or we make some BS excuse about it, and then we move onto the next idea…and repeat…forever!

    It feels similar to what people who diet go through (I’m fortunate in that I don’t have to diet, but from what I’ve heard/read). i.e will power will take you so far, but you really need something ‘bigger’ at stake to truly to succeed. eg when I found out I was coeliac, I immediately gave up gluten and it really wasn’t hard – because what was at stake if I failed was far greater than if I’d just done it to lose a few pounds.

    In your personal experience, and from working with others, can goal setting help with achieving the shorter term commitment and ‘having more will power’?

    • Kelly Pietrangeli on February 5, 2016 at 2:48 PM

      Hi Christina,

      I’m so sorry you missed this 4-week programme as I think you’d love it!

      The system I teach is one where you choose to focus on one life area you want to improve. You get crystal clear about your Dream Vision for how you want that area to look, feel and be. You look at the Why behind it and ask yourself what will happen if you do nothing…..?

      Once you’re fired about that goal and sure it’s what you want, I help you create your small step action plan. We look at bad habits that aren’t supporting your goal and create good ones that do. We look at motivation and self-control. (I HEAR you on Willower only taking you so far!!)

      Everyone makes beautiful progress on their goal within those four weeks and it’s that feeling of success that goes on to breed more success. Set backs are a natural part of the process, but I promote a real sense of self-awareness so that set-backs are seen as chances to learn and grow.

      To answer your final question, I DEFINITELY believe that goal setting can help with achieving success with commitments and stengthening one’s self-control muscle.

      I hope you’re on my mailing list so I can tell you about the next one. I’d love to have you on board! I’m also happy to work with you 1:1 if you’d like to email me. 🙂 Thanks for your utterly fabulous comment.

      • Christina on February 10, 2016 at 5:10 PM

        Thanks Kelly!

        I am now on your mailing list 🙂 Love the sound of your program and the idea of really focusing in on just one area. Often at the start of the year (or in moments of reflection) we can go a bit overboard and decide we need to change about 5 areas of our life which of course, is unrealistic.

        So yes, really interested in what you are offering, and whole heartedly agree that focus, accountability and accepting the set backs and learning from them are great ways to move forwards with achieveing what you want to.

        I’m reading the 7 Habits for the first time (where have I been?!) and it’s fascinating in many ways, and what you mention is very in line with his ‘start with the end in mind’ habit. So although I don’t much believe in the universe and all the woo woo type stuff, it’s funny how this message has popped up in my life a few times already this year!

        I have recently signed up to something else and I’ve committed to focus on that 100% for now , but hope you’ll be sharing some of the success stories in due course…?!

        Thanks for your reply!

        • Kelly Pietrangeli on February 10, 2016 at 5:49 PM

          Hi again Christina – So nice of you to check back in again!

          Funnily enough, my oldest son is now reading the 7 Habits of Effective Teens! Great stuff.

          Thanks for joining my list. I hope we continue to connect via Project Me 🙂

          Good for you for committing 100% to what you’ve already joined! I’m all for that 🙂

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