Goal setting at the start of the new year has a bit of a bad rap. Magazines come out with the same old tired ‘New Year – New You’ articles and quite frankly, I’m over it all.
It’s nice to think of the start of the year as a clean slate – a chance to start things with renewed energy and focus, and I think that’s why we tend to want to set goals at this time. This is great – but relying on this burst of enthusiasm to carry us throughout the year is just a recipe for failure.
Goal setting is important – don’t get me wrong. It’s just important to set the right goals, for the right reasons, and then have a structure in place to support the ongoing development towards achieving those goals. I believe using this yearbook can help with that.
First thing’s first: take a moment to read back through your ideal year answer. What stands out to you? Let’s unpack it a bit.
As you read through your answer, ask yourself the following questions:
- Are there any repeated themes (e.g. family, or escaping your current situation in some way, or growth, or slowing down, etc)?
- While what you’ve written down might seem impossible or unlikely, what is the underlying need or desire it is trying to fill? For example, if you wrote down winning the lottery (I’m guessing at least one person has!) this might be filling the need of financial security, or financial abundance and freedom to leave your job, or travel and have an adventure, etc.
- What would be the absolute most important thing you wrote?
- What areas of your life are you most interested in changing or focusing on?
It is likely that you haven’t covered every single area of your life in your ideal year prompt. Typical goal setting workbooks at the start of the year encourage us to set goals in every life area. I think that’s a bad idea because, not only can it be overwhelming setting more than a small handful of goals, you are unlikely to even remember half of them, let alone actively work towards them. Not only that, but I don’t think that life is an equal balance at all times.
I think this idea of having a balanced life is a bit of a myth – there are times, for example, where you work your butt off at work and have little time for something else, and other times where all you are doing is taking care of a baby (that was me in 2017!). Just focus on the things that excite you and are a real priority, rather than feeling the need to strive for perfection. Take the pressure off yourself and let your heart guide you.
Setting your goals:
When setting your goals there are a few things you really need to consider, and the prompts in the workbook should get you thinking about these things. Most importantly, I want you to really dig down and think about why you want to achieve the goal – what feeling (you hope) it will bring about and what purpose it will serve.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the SMART acronym – that is, when settings goals you should make sure they meet the following criteria:
- Resonates (It’s normally ‘relevant’ – but I prefer the term ‘resonates’)
This can really help with goal setting too. It steers you away from vague and difficult to quantify goals such as ‘get fit’ or ‘be creative’ (which have no feelings of satisfaction or achievement because they are never technically ‘achieved’) to goals you can actually track, such as ‘run a half marathon’ or ‘create six paintings’. In terms of the time frame, as we are looking at the year ahead, the assumption is some time within the year. But you might like to specify a time frame – such as ‘run a half marathon before my birthday in June’.
FYI, this will absolutely NOT be one of my goals, due to it not meeting the achievable and resonates criteria, which brings me to another point. I guess I could possibly make it achievable, if I really got out there every day and pounded the pavement, but it does not resonate with me. Sure, fitness is good, it could make me healthier, I would love the adoration from my partner for achieving that, but really, I have no desire whatsoever to attempt it. Make sure your goals are your goals, not someone else’s goals, or ‘shoulds’.
Take your time when setting your goals. Also, I really encourage you to do the visualisation exercise – it can be very powerful.