If you’re anything like I am, you might find yourself finally taking a moment to breathe after the holiday rush, only to realize January 1st is only a few days away. While the New Year is supposed to symbolize new opportunities for health, happiness, and peace of mind, it can also be a stressful time due to pesky little things called resolutions.
This year, I’m trying something new.
I’m not setting any resolutions.
Instead, I’m committing to something I feel is far more impactful: goal-setting. Here at The Calm Collective, I’m all about choosing to spend my time in a mindful, purposeful way, which is a surefire way to ensure that 2018 is a year worth writing home about.
Why Goals vs. Resolutions?
So what exactly is the difference between a goal and a resolution? Reflect for a moment. If you’ve set a resolution in the past, how did it feel in the moment? Was it authentic? Or was it arbitrary? Was it mindful? Or did it feel stressful? Was it organic? Or were you being pressured?
Unfortunately, for so many of us, it’s the latter. There’s something inherently and urgently stressful about creating and implementing resolutions. We feel obligated to set resolutions without really determining whether these actions help us to pursue our passions, add joy to our lives, or create a sense of inner peace. Even worse, we approach resolutions like a sprint; we “race” to finish them… and then what?
Positive change isn’t just a checklist item, and that’s why goals differ from resolutions.
Goals are long-term lifestyle changes, resolutions are short-term, temporary changes.
It’s time to acknowledge what doesn’t work for us, and focus our energy on things with lasting impact. I’ve spent so much of my life running around in circles with behavioral and habitual routines that I wanted to change. Maybe the benefits would last a month or so, and then I would inevitably fall back into old patterns. It wasn’t until I got real with myself and owned up to what wasn’t working that the shift started to become second nature. I had to answer why it was that I wanted to make this change.
First and foremost, I wanted to honor my grieving process and make sure that I was leaving room for healing. With anxious tendencies, I wasn’t giving myself the space to heal. Quite the opposite — I was making it harder on myself. The second most important reason for this lifestyle change is that I know that when the time comes for me to have kids of my own, I want to be a calming force for them to look up to – to feel safe. I want them to understand that while life moves incredibly fast, simplicity and mindfulness can exist within them.
What better way for them to learn this then to model the behavior for them firsthand?
The truth is, these days I feel far more uncomfortable with a full schedule than I do sitting quietly with my own thoughts. A year or so ago? That would not have been the case. I believe with my entire being that if we want to change ourselves from the inside out, and we want it bad enough, it is absolutely possible. But you have to do the work. This blog is meant to do just that — to guide you and give you the tools to hopefully make it that much easier for you to find success in living a more calm and intentional life.
As you continue to read this post, you’ll see that there are easy to follow, step by step guidelines for implementing exciting and impactful changes for the new year (and all of the years to follow) In addition, I’ve also included a FREE Goal Planning Worksheet and some quick tips for achieving your goals. I use this worksheet personally. Nothing has set me up for a more balanced, successful path and I hope it does the same for you! I encourage to download it, print it out, and join the movement to letting go of temporary resolutions and instead, crafting life long habits and intentions.
So, what do you say? Are you with me?
Defining the goal
The first step, and the most challenging (in a rewarding way!) is defining your goal and it’s value to your life. Figuring out what we want might be the easy part, but exploring why we want it is an exercise in getting to know ourselves a little better.
What Are Your Goals?
If you’re having trouble getting started, the best place to begin might be to ask yourself what you care about. Look at the major elements of your life: family, friends, love, work, travel, professional development, leisure, health. What areas of your life do you feel an imbalance? What ideas do you keep circling back to? Jot them down. From there, it’s essential to examine what value these goals will bring to your life. For me, this was always the most difficult part. Thinking back on resolutions I created for myself over the years, I can’t even figure out why I wanted them:
1. “I want to weigh 115 by summer time”.
2. “I want to read 25 books this year.”
3. “I want to travel to a new country.”
Approach Change With A Purpose
At first glance, these resolutions seem pretty exciting and ambitious, but I literally can’t even explain why I wanted them. Why did I want to lose weight? Did I feel pressure to? How did I pick the number 115? And 25 books?! Travel where? Were all my friends traveling? I had no purpose tied to these resolutions, so I often failed in making progress.
It might seem counter-intuitive, but broadening your goals can help eliminate meaningless numbers and limits and allow you to focus on the value behind the goal, rather than the finish line. If you view success in terms of numbers and limits, you might quickly feel discouraged, even in the face of incredible personal growth.
Instead, approaching change with a purpose in mind can help us understand what we really need and allow us to create smart goals. Losing weight to benefit personal health is created with purpose. Reading more to enrich the mind is noteworthy. Traveling to inspire change and broaden perspectives is really amazing. If we can’t honestly answer why we choose a goal, then that’s a good indication we need to take some time for self-reflection.
Create an action plan
Put It In Writing
Once you’ve selected your goals (start small- two to three goals is more than enough!), it’s time to create an action plan and get it down on paper. There’s something about writing your goals down that makes them feel a little more permanent, isn’t there? If you need a little nudge of inspiration, check out The Calm Collective Goal Setting Worksheet here.
I always like to choose one personal, one professional, and one health goal. For me, balancing my professional commitments with my personal time is essential, so making sure my goals reflect balance in all areas of my life is key for my own success. To help give you a better idea, I’ve included my own goals below, along with the value each one brings to my life:
I continue to nourish friendships that add value to my life. In the pursuit of a calm and mindful lifestyle, I find a greater sense of peace in surrounding myself with those who enrich my life and foster positive growth.
I teach my craft to those who are inspired to learn. My purpose in doing so is to encourage others to pursue their creative passions. My lifestyle isn’t exactly considered “normal”- there’s no steady paycheck, no strict schedule, and there’s always a learning curve, which can deter people from trying something new. By sharing my craft with others, I want to demonstrate that it’s attainable and encourage others to enrich their lives in ways they never thought possible.
I focus on what feels good for my mind and body. In doing so, I release myself from the pressure and expectations of society, and gain a better appreciation and reliance on my own intuition above anything else.
Once you’ve decided on the goal and the value in doing so (the purpose), it’s important to choose a “by when” date. The great thing about “by when” dates is the flexibility they involve, while still holding us accountable to goals we want to work toward. Having a date or time in mind is much better than an unanchored goal.
Be mindful about your “by when” dates.
For example, if your goal is financial budgeting for the purpose of travel at a later date, that’s probably something you need to start sooner than later, because it’s long-term goal with a specific travel date in mind. On the other hand, you may have smaller or more abstract goals, so “by when” dates might be in the form of daily, weekly, or even monthly check ins, like “at the end of each week” or “the first five minutes after I wake up each morning”.
Take notice of how your frame your goals. Do they include phrases like “I want to” or “I will” or “I’m going to”? If so, it’s time to revise. By setting our goals in the future tense, we inadvertently place the action of these goals in the future. Try writing your goals in present tense to inspire immediate action. For example, instead of “I’m going to meditate for five minutes when I wake up every morning”, simply write “I meditate for five minutes when I wake up every morning”. Small shifts in our mind-frame can make all the difference.
If you’re serious about accomplishing your goals, it’s important to do your homework. What does it take to achieve your goals? What resources will you need? How will your time be used in making these goals a reality? Creating goals on a whim is a recipe for disaster, so make sure to plan step by step, organize, research, and budget if need be in order to reach your goal.
For example, if you are looking to improve your physical health through weekly exercise, you will need to determine the following:
- How will you exercise- group classes, individually, with a personal trainer?
- What time of day and how frequently will you exercise?
- How often will you assess your goal?
- What are your desired results? How will you measure your success- by numbers or how your clothes are fitting?
By planning ahead, we can save ourselves time and frustration, especially in the beginning stages of working through our goals.
Once you’ve determined your goal, written it down, and figured out what you need in order to be successful, it’s time to get started! Start with smaller goals, and try integrating those into the daily fabric of your life first. From there, move to bigger goals. One of the most gratifying things about goal-setting vs. resolutions is that you have the ability to modify your goals without fear of “failure”. It’s important to assess these goals regularly and recognize that goals are an on-going process. Be kind to yourself, and be flexible. If you find yourself pushing something off, or worse, dreading a goal you’ve created for yourself, it’s time to re-evaluate, simplify, and move forward.
It’s 5:30 A.M. and the alarm for the gym goes off. Co-workers bring leftover holiday treats to the office. We really, really want that new coat. We’re frustrated with a loved one and feel the need to vent in an unproductive manner. Let’s be honest, it can be really tough to stay focused. So how can we create accountability for the goals we are setting for ourselves?
Power in Numbers
First, find yourself an accountability partner. This is an absolute must. Having someone to talk with, share successes and challenges with, and to check in on your progress is essential. Look for individuals who share your values and goals; they are the best resource to keep you on track. It might be a friend from the gym, a co-worker, family member, or even a support group created on social media. Whomever it is, don’t be afraid to check in frequently, ask questions, and find ways to hold each other accountable.
Keeping your goal worksheet somewhere visible (maybe even in a few places!) can help you keep your goals in the forefront of your mind. For me, that means keeping my goals in multiple places. I have them in the notes section of my phone, printed out and taped to the wall of my office, on my letterfolk board which hangs in the kitchen area, and I even set occasional reminders in my phone so they’ll randomly pop up as a message “out of the blue”.
Placing them in these areas makes sense to me because I use these spaces daily. Some other places you could consider keeping your goals is tucked inside your journal, in your car if you have a commute to work, a desktop background for your computer or iPhone, or written on a post it note and taped to your bathroom mirror. Visibility is key when it comes to keeping yourself on track, so feel free to get creative with your placement. The options are endless.
Remember Why You Started
Finally, when you’re having a rough time, remember why you started. Give yourself the grace to slip up here and there, and remember that goal-setting isn’t meant to be quick, it’s meant to be lasting. Remind yourself that you’re actively working to better yourself, and just by setting goals and working on them, you’re making progress. Honor the time and effort you put in.
Here to offer love nudges whenever they’re needed. x