A Mindful Way to Set Your Goals
Updated: Jan 11, 2020
I cannot believe 2019 is already over, and I am very grateful for an amazing holiday catching up with friends and family, indulging in an abundance of traditional food and drinks, wood-fire and a torch light procession in the snow. My original intention was to set aside some time for a little mindful practice and goal setting during this break. Of course I didn't get round to it as it was hard to focus and calm down amongst all the festivities.
The Dreaded Question
On New Year's Eve, someone popped the long-awaited question: "What is your wish for 2020?". It was a great conversation starter but I was totally unprepared to answer, and no one seemed so either. We tried to come up with something entertaining, but all failed along the lines of world peace, more sex and money. Some wanted to earn more, work less and spend more time with loved ones. Deep down, everyone knew that the “what do you want” question would involve so much thinking. An honest answer was too serious or too boring to share over a party.
What about you?
What about you? Have you already firmed up your resolutions? Have you hit the ground running, eating clean, staying dry and exercising every day? Or are you still mulling over what to aim for in 2020? Personally I think the first of January is a challenging time to embark on any resolutions. The combination of too much wine, sleep deprivation, lots of travel and fatigue is not conducive to planning, rationalising or prioritising what is so close and dear to our hearts and well-being.
It Takes Time
The “what do you want” question is one that I genuinely want to answer all the time. In order to answer this properly, I gave myself a few days to recover from the holidays, return to my normal routine and the opportunity to gather my thoughts and consider what I wanted for the new year.
The Rearview Mirror
I feel a good place to start is to look back into the past. What about you? Have you got a chance to review what happened last year? What has gone well and what hasn’t? Which were the things you did right? What would you like to do better and more often? What would you have done differently? What have you learned about yourself?
With the benefit of hindsight and experiences, you are now a different person from the you exactly one year ago. Are you happy with the way things are now? What do you want? What serves you well? What do you want to change by next month, six months or a year? Where are you right now compared to your most desirable state? How do you want to show up for yourself and to the world around you?
7 Steps to Set Your Goals in a Mindful Way
Yes I hear you. I am also getting dizzy with this avalanche of questions. So here are a few steps to help clarify your intentions, set some meaningful goals and translate them into actions. These are the steps I am using to work through my priorities and I hope you would find them useful.
1. Take a Pause
Do not underestimate the power of a pause. It is probably the most important concept I have shared with all my clients. This is especially important if you are a very busy professional with kids. If you don’t have the time, find it. You do not only deserve but actually need this “me-time”. It is important to take the time to pay attention, to respect yourself and be present for yourself. Take the opportunity to ask what you want deep down.
By the way, if you are really busy and can't make time, try to find five minutes one day. If the world doesn't end on the first day, try another five minutes the following day. If it works out, try to incorporate this “me-time” gradually into a habit of self care. Create your own version of self-care, try stretching, breathing exercise or enjoy a cup of coffee in silence.
2. What Serves You
Take a few deep breaths, or any mindful practice you like. Once you feel sufficiently calm and grounded, ask yourself: what serves me right? Be loving towards yourself in an unconditional and non-judgemental way. Imagine you are looking at yourself from the perspective of your best friend, parent, or child. What would they want for you? How would they support you to be the best of yourself? Are you too hard on yourself sometimes?
3. Visualise Your Future Self
Dig deep into your mind and imagine how you would live a day as if you have already achieved those goals. Picture how your day goes in that desirable state or position. In your head, play it out in the smallest detail possible, what you would see, hear, feel and touch. How would you behave? What would you do? How would you see yourself? How would you feel physically? And emotionally?
4. Write Them Down
Hopefully you are feeling more empowered to strive for more. I don’t know what your agendas are but hopefully you are more motivated to reach your goals. Whatever your plans are, write them down, see how they fit with your intentions. Do this with pen and paper, not your iphone or ipad. Writing clarifies thinking. Writing can help structure your thoughts, reinforce your motivation and prioritise your goals.
5. Post Your Goals
Summarise your goals into a word or a short phrase. Stick it somewhere prominent so that you see it often. It can be your desk, computer, phone, wallet, fridge, or bathroom mirror. So you are constantly reminded of the person you want to be and stay committed to your goals.
6. Take One Small Action
Consider how you can take one small, realistic and practical action towards your goal(s) TODAY. Ideally it is something that you would enjoy doing anyway. If your goal is to get fit and you don’t like the gym, you don’t have to go. Be creative and figure out an activity that is enjoyable, makes you appreciate your body and doesn’t feel like a punishment.
7. Practice Gratitude
In case you don’t have time or just don’t feel like setting goals or making a commitment, you can always practice gratitude. You can do this anytime and anywhere. Be thankful you are the person you are right now, and all the people who care for you. Appreciate what you have achieved to date and the opportunity to make the next day better.
Show up for yourself and others. You can already live your day as if you are that person who has already achieved those goals. Start the journey to become the best version of yourself, a loving and caring spouse, parent, child, friend, coworker or boss. Remember to behave with all the grace and humility that comes with that successful person.
Thank you for reading this. Happy goal setting and Happy New Year!