I don’t know about you, but I freakin’ love me some New Years goal setting. Even when I DON’T accomplish everything on my list (I don’t think I ever do!) the simple act of getting intentional about the year is FUN for me. Is it fun for you too? And if not, do you want it to be?
As I look through the goals I set in 2016 and the years prior, I’ve learned a few things about setting realistic, feel-good goals, and I want to share these lessons with you…
I believe that setting goals should feel good in the NOW and in the future. Okay, so maybe “feel good” isn’t totally the right phrase… because sometimes goes are challenging and don’t necessarily “feel good” as we’re actually working on the goal in the future.
But what we DON’T want to do is set goals like this: “I think my future self should do a juice fast and then she should train for a marathon. Okay, future self? You can do that right? Come January 1 you should be filled with a willpower you’ve never had before. Okay, done. Goal!”
EEEERT. Wrong. Your future self is the same YOU that is sitting down today, reading this post, reflecting on these goals. I’ve been there MANY times before where I’ve just counted on my future self to want to make all of the changes for me. And you know what that did? It let the NOW me off the hook from doing anything. And that felt great, because I/we like to be comfortable.
SO, in saying this… We want to set goals that will be good for our future selves. Goals that we’ll wake up with several weeks from now, and look back and say “Hey, I’m so glad you set this goal, and that we’re doing this thing. I’m so glad I get to FEEL this way each day. This is FUN! This is meaningful.”
So, let’s talk about how to set goals that will continue to feel like good goals longterm (they add to your life) and are not rooted in restriction/limitations (they take away, drain, and distract you):
1. Set goals with meaning.
List out everything you want in 2017. No matter how big or small. Meaningful or silly. Get it all out. Give yourself permission to dream. Have fun with this. Whatever you want, it’s okay. Write it down. We’re not setting any goals in stone by writing them out.
In the next step we’ll dig a little deeper into the WHY of the goal and we’ll make sure that the goals you’re setting are actually what you want, but for now, have fun with this. Let yourself dream a little (okay, a lot). This is a fun exercise to connect with yourself!
2. Dig deeper.
Next, dig a little deeper. Go through each goal (I know, there might be a lot!) and ask yourself “what will having achieved this goal do for me? Once I’m already across the finish line of this goal, what will be different in my life?”
Then, when you get your answer, ask again: “What will having THAT do for me?” And again. Keep going, until you get to the root of what you want (try to ask yourself at least three times – get about three layers deep).
I want to stop dieting.
What will having stopped dieting do for me?
It’ll give me more freedom in my daily life.
What will having more freedom in my daily life do for me?
It’ll allow me to focus on OTHER things that are important to me – my husband, my friends, having fun, feeling great – and stop thinking about food so much.
And what will THAT do for me?
I’ll feel more present as I focus on things that fill me up. I’ll be more joyful, happier, and therefore a better friend, and partner. I’ll be more engaged at work. My spirituality will deepen. And my life will be more RICH.
See how much more you get from THAT reflection vs. just writing down “I want to stop dieting.” If we don’t talk through what having each thing will actually do for us, the goal will lose it’s steam as soon as it feels challenging.
It’s like when I first started saving money in a savings account. I’d set a goal to save more money. I’d do it for a while, and then I’d always hit this point of “why am I doing this? It doesn’t feel good. It’s pointless. I’ve worked hard for my money and now it’s all just sitting in a silent account doing nothing for me.”
And then what came next? “You know what would be SO much more fun? To SPEND it. I could go on a trip, shopping, out with friends! I could just, like, NOT CARE for a little while!”
I had no REASON to save. It took me a while to realize “Actually… Saving money helps me feel safe. Saving money helps me plan for the future, AND feel a ton of freedom in the now. It allows me to do more of what I love now, because I TRUST that I’m responsible with my money. This feels AWESOME.”
SO, sticking with the example above to “stop dieting,” new pieces of this goal would entail:
- stop dieting
- get more freedom in my daily life
- focus on things that are important to me and are NOT food
- invest more time and attention in my friendships, my partner, allow myself to be more engaged at work, and deepen my spirituality
How much better is that goal once you deepen it? Now you have meaning and reason behind your goal, and you’re so much more likely to go for it. To reach it. To stay motivated. To remember the vision behind why you started. You’re remembering what crossing that finish line will do for you.
3. Set short term goals.
So often in the new year we focus only on the long term. What we can we achieve this year? Well, how about this month? How about this week? How about tomorrow? Here’s a twister: How about right now in this moment?
Set some short term goals that pair with your long term goals (it’s great & okay to do both!). If you want to break free from diets this year, what step are you going to take in January to do that? How about this week? How about TODAY? You do NOT need to wait until January 1 to start feeling good.
(And speaking of breaking free from diets, Finally Free is getting a makeover right now, and we’re scheduled to release and celebrate this makeover next week – we. can. not. wait!).
OH, and by the way you guys… It’s OKAY if you don’t reach all of your goals. In most cases, the purpose of setting a goal is to give you direction, drive, and focus toward more of what you want. Not necessarily to reach THAT specific goal – there may be something EVEN better, or more RIGHT out there for you.
4. How you want to feel.
Rather than just thinking about what you want to accomplish or achieve in the new year, think about how you want to feel. Do you want to feel present? spiritual? powerful? invigorated? connected? joyful? peaceful? calm? excited? pleasured? fun? happy?
If thinking in terms of the whole year feels too big, hey, there are no rules here. Think about how you want to feel this month, this week, or even just today as you’re goal setting. Have fun with this!
So, your next action steps are to reflect on:
- What were your 2016 goals?
- Did you reflect on them with the worksheet in the previous post?
- How do you want your 2017 goals to be different?
- What did you learn from your 2016 goals?
Once you’ve reflected on 2016… let’s start getting curious about 2017! Download this worksheet below for brand NEW reflection questions and space to process what we’ve talked about today. Print this worksheet, take it to a coffee shop, and if you can, invite a friend! It’s so fun to process these things together.