What do you think about when you think about setting up new goals? As the New Year approaches, and everyone scrambles to set lofty goals for the next 12 months, goals are the big thing! However, how many of these goals do we really accomplish? Actually, how many do we we even begin to work on?
The truth is, there’s a fundamental problem with the way we set goals. While we get motivated for the first few weeks or months after setting a goal, the initial motivation tends to fade away as we get tired, unfocused or just move on to other objectives.
So how do we set goals that actually work, instead of getting lost in targets we lose track of? As a matter of fact, setting ineffective goals contributes largely to making us bitter, angry and resentful, as we start blaming ourselves for targets that were never the right fit for us.
Over the years, I’ve had (and still do) my share of ineffective goals and objectives, like making it to the gym before my 85th birthday. Or learning to knit one day and make my children proud at their school’s Parent-Teacher conference. The problem with these goals: They don’t fit me. I’m neither an exercise buff nor a domesticated woman (although a nice pair of heels could convince me…).
As you start getting weary of setting the same goals that don’t exactly work every year, here are a few of the lessons I, and many others, have learnt about setting goals that actually work for you:
Learn to know yourself better, and what you really want
So many of us set goals without really knowing what we want. We decide that because Shady Susie’s got a promotion in her department, we should chase a bigger promotion. Or since Gossiping Gina just went on her second vacation this year, we should aim to top the Vacation Pool and jet-set all over the world on our last 401K loan. More seriously, many of the goals we set for ourselves have less to do with us than with some obscure need to validate ourselves.
Instead, let’s learn to know ourselves, and what we really want. Shut off the TV, turn off social media, and focus on what YOU really want out of your life. What have you been dreaming of since you were a child? What sets your soul on fire? Those are the real intentions that should motivate you from the inside out!
Commit to feeling good!
I credit The Desire Map book by Danielle LaPorte for changing my entire perception of how we should set intentions in our lives. Any goal that weighs you down, makes you feel pressured and not at ease may not be for you. This is not to say that we shouldn’t challenge ourselves to rise above the way we feel.
However, I believe that the right intentions for you should awaken an inner lightness, a clarity and a peace of mind that liberates you. Your intentions should help you transform into a better version of yourself. If the lofty goals you’re setting make you feel less worthy, drag down your relationships and kill your creativity, then they may not work for you.
Avoid meaningless goals
Goals that don’t carry meaning for you will have you feeling stressed out, depleted, and exhausted. Those are signals that you should re-evaluate how much meaning these goals have for you. Are you chasing that promotion out of a competitive streak instead of going after the purpose of your life? Are you doing it all for the money and forgetting to fulfill your destiny?
Set intentions that make you feel energized and filled with life. You will notice the difference once you start pursuing them, how different and better they feel. Trust your instincts, they know where you should be headed.
Do you even want it all?
One of the biggest obstacles to setting powerful and effective intentions instead of rigid goals is that we too often want it all. Society has us believing, especially as working women, that we can and should want it all. But do we really want all of it?
You’re allowed to want what YOU want, and not to have to run after every impressive goal set in front of you. That includes showing up with no makeup at the gym or letting go of a well-paid career to pursue your purpose.
Recognize your limitations
Listen, we all have limits. And that’s ok. It’s actually a good thing. Imagine being able to do everything? When would you sleep? But more seriously, our limitations are here to remind us to focus on our true purpose.
I know everyone else will tell you to face your limitations and overcome them. It’s a noble enterprise, but one that will leave you eating out your fingernails and losing your edges. Accept the fact that you don’t have a million-dollar budget (no, you don’t need to buy that yacht to parade it on social media just yet), that you’re not Naomi Campbell, and that you only have so many hours a day.
While there are times when you must rise above your limitations, like when you really need a mental health day before you cuss out your manager (and lose your Christmas budget), make sure to set intentions that let you live and not die!
Stop feeling guilty for wanting what YOU want!
Does Shady Susie’s extravagant lifestyle make you feel guilty for just wanting a day off at home on your own, with no crying kids? Or on the very contrary, does your missionary cousin make you feel bad for wanting to become a multi-millionaire entrepreneur?
Stop feeling guilty for wanting what you want. Wanting more is not a crime, neither is wanting less. Set intentions that truly reflect your inner truth, independently of your environment or pre-conceived notions.
Let go of goals that don’t serve you
Last but not least, holding on to goals that no longer serve us can prevent us from achieving anything worthwhile. I know for a fact that forcing myself to hit the gym on January 1st is a recipe for fitness disaster! When the same goals you’ve been dragging since 1999 are now making you feel like you’ve got a boulder on your ankle, it’s time to let go.
Many times, goals get passed on to you as well, like your mother’s undying wish to see you graduate from Medical School. It’s ok to get off the cultural or family goal bandwagon and set your own intentions!
What other tips do you have to set intentions that actually work in your life?
To Your Success,
The Corporate Sis.
Author: Solange Lopes
Solange is the founder of The Corporate Sister, as well as an author, entrepreneur and CPA. She’s passionate about helping women do work they love, build fulfilling careers and living life on their own terms.