Think about the last goal you set for yourself. What was it? Was it related to your career? Your health? Maybe it was something to do with your family. Whatever it was, you likely found yourself struggling to make it happen. Don’t worry – you’re not alone. Many people have a difficult time seeing their goals through to the end. Whether it is because you get side-tracked by all the other life events that pop up, or frustrated because you aren’t seeing enough progress, there are many reasons why so many of us never achieve our goals. It is my hope that by the end of this blog series you will be well-equipped to take on your goals – whatever they may be.
The first part of this series looks at how to choose meaningful goals. Before we get into the details about how to actually choose your goals, I wanted to explain my definition of goals. I’m not talking about the goals your teachers asked you to set in grade school; I’m talking about Intentional Goals.
Setting Intentions, Goals and Intentional Goals
If you’re familiar with yoga, you’ve likely heard the instructor invite you to set an intention for your practice. When I began practicing yoga, I had no idea what this meant. I thought it was like choosing a mantra to meditate on. In reality, an intention is all about cultivating a sense of feeling for your practice. It’s about asking yourself how you want to feel and what you want to bring to your practice. Some days, my intention is to “be kind to myself”; others it is to “be balanced (both on the mat and off)”. Setting intentions is about what is in your heart.
Goals, on the other hand, typically come from your head. Goals are logical, pre-designed plans for how to get from point A, where you are now, to point Z, where you want to be. In goal setting, you think of an outcome you want to achieve and then make plans for how you will reach that outcome. Our hearts are often not even a factor.
This brings me to Intentional Goal setting, the kind of goal setting I will be talking about during this series. Intentional goals are goals that you create that come from both your head and your heart. It starts by reflecting on what is in your heart – what sets your soul on fire, what gives your life passion and drive – and then putting a carefully drafted, well organized plan in place. Whoever said the head and the heart can’t work together had clearly never tried intentional goal setting.
So, intentional goals are all about marrying how we feel with how we think. During this process, I encourage you to open your hearts and not let your head take over. Listen to what your heart has to say before your head starts asking all kinds of questions about how and why and when (That’s what we are going to discuss next time)!
Now that we know what intentional goals are, it’s time to figure out how to actually do this! This may seem obvious, but when setting goals, the first step is always to decide what the goal is. What may not be obvious, however, is that many goals are doomed to fail before you even begin working on them. There are many reasons why people struggle to achieve their goals, but what if it isn’t your plan, but the goal itself that is holding you back?
5 Mistakes For Choosing Goals
- The goal is too broad – If your goal is not specific enough, your energy will be spread too thin focusing on too many areas instead of the one main pursuit that is at the heart of what you want.
- Too big too soon – It’s important to have big goals, but sometimes what you really need is to set smaller, more realistic goals in between that will help you work your way up to your endpoint.
- The goal isn’t actually what you want – Is that big promotion really what you want, or is it everything that this job represents, like more free time, more financial freedom or the ability to make decisions in your life? Think about the “why” to help determine if your goal is actually going to serve you.
- You can’t tell when the goal has been met – If your goal is to be happier, how will you be able to measure success? Will you be able to recognize when the goal has been met? Being able to define success with a goal is important, or else you may keep working towards something that never has an endpoint.
- The goal is not meaningful to you – Sometimes the goals we set are not for ourselves, but rather what we think we should be working towards. Intentional goals are free from the pressures we put on ourselves. Instead, they are focused on strengthening what is truly going to make your life better in some way.
For me, the key to choosing the right goal is all about inner reflection and discovery. If you aren’t sure what is truly in your heart, your goals are likely to continue to disappoint you. It was almost one year ago when I began to re-evaluate the goals in my life and take on a different perspective. I decided to sit down and really spend some time getting to know myself. I started thinking about the things in life that brought me joy, what I wanted to pour my energy into and what experiences lit my soul on fire. I spent hours mulling it all over. I brainstormed and wrote lists. I read books and magazines and I talked it out with my closest friends and family. What resulted was pages and pages showcasing my core values, my deepest desires and my most vulnerable hopes for my future. I was so excited about what resulted, that I knew I had to share it with others. So, I decided to create the “How to Choose Meaningful Goals” workbook to help you get to the bottom of what is in your heart. And because I’m in the giving spirit, its FREE!
These questions are designed to help you explore your inner thoughts. My advice is to print off these pages, make yourself a nice cup of tea and lock yourself away for at least half an hour in a quiet space. Light some candles, put on some relaxing music and just let your mind wander where it may. While I was creating this workbook, I kept thinking about the quote: “If you want to know where you’re heart truly lies, look to where your mind goes when it wanders”. It’s a big quote, but it’s also so simple. What do you spend your days thinking about? What is the thing that occupies your mind when you’re supposed to be focusing on your work or planning the meals for the week? The workbook I created for you will help you to find out what is truly in your heart by allowing you to let your mind wander.
Whenever I approach goal setting, I look at it as an opportunity to enhance my life. I try to think about what will truly benefit me the most and what will help me create the life I’ve been imagining. One year ago, when I began the journey I am on now, I looked at my life and recognized that I hadn’t been setting intentional goals. The idea of intentional goals may seem like an oxymoron, but by looking at goal setting in this way has helped me balance what my head tells me is the smart, rational thing to do with what my heart is pulling me towards.
Once you’ve answered these questions, and completed the analysis at the end of the workbook, you will have a clearer idea of what direction your heart is pulling you towards. You will be able to see patterns in your answers that tell you much more about yourself than you may have realized. And, you’ll be ready for the next part of our series where we will look at how to make our intentional goals a reality.
See you all next time!