What do you need—what can you do—to make this YOUR best year yet? Let’s explore!
We’re not big fans of New Year’s resolutions, but we do believe in the power of a good reset—of carving out time for reflection, checking in, evaluating, and then taking what you’ve learned to create purposeful action—to live intentionally. The new year can be a good time for it, so can your birthday, a change in seasons, or anytime you feel drawn to it.
This is our 5-Step Process for setting meaningful goals. It is best done as a practice—one you revisit periodically. We recommend quarterly, and at least once a year.
The goal of this practice is 2-fold. First is uncovering what you really want for yourself in an ideal life. It’s getting connected to your most authentic self, without judgement. Not the expectations placed upon you by others. Not the “shoulds” you feel obligated to meet. We get “shoulded” on a lot, but these “shoulds” don’t serve us. Yes, we all have certain tasks or responsibilities that maybe aren’t our favorite, but too often, we get so wrapped up in trying to please others or too buried in the day-to-day tedium that we lose sight of the bigger purpose. It’s time to reconnect, rediscover. Oprah said it best!
Second is creating actionable steps to bring the ideal to reality. You deserve the life you want to live. You are worthy of every happiness you dream. AND you’ll have to put in work to achieve it BUT that effort should not be overwhelming or disheartening. It might make you a little nervous, give you that butterfly feeling, but more so, it should excite you and have you eager to get started. So let’s get to it!
Give yourself about 30 minutes of uninterrupted time. Grab a journal, notebook, or other writing instrument (preferably paper vs a screen).
Find a comfortable seated or lying position…and breathe…focus on your breath. The inhale and exhale. Not forcing it, not trying to breathe in any particular way, just becoming distinctly aware. Try to let go of any expectations and just BE here…focused on your breath. If other thoughts are creeping in, let them come and let them go…continue to focus on your breath. See yourself sitting (or lying) here. Feel grounded. Breathe.
Grab your pen and paper and think of 3 people you admire—could be anyone, for any reason: friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, celebrities, etc. Across the top of your paper, write their names.
Below each name, jot down WHAT you admire about them: qualities, characteristics, personality traits, actions…anything that comes to mind. Try to be specific. Rather than “she’s a great mom,” what specific action or quality makes you say that she’s a great mom? Spend about 2-3:00 writing, brainstorm style, everything you can think of.
Then, see what redundancies or commonalities exist. Is there one word that best describes 2 or more of the actions you wrote down? Try to narrow your list to about 10 qualities, characteristics or values. If helpful, HERE is a printable list of common values.
Now, let’s take your list down to 5…and then to 3 core values. As you do, ask yourself the following questions:
On a new sheet, write your 3 core values. If needed, provide your definition of that value, or any additional nuance, so that it’s crystal clear to you what that value means. Note: someone else’s definition of the same value/word might be different, and that’s ok!
Now, let’s do a little time-traveling. 10 years into the future. It’s January of 2033. How old are you? Can you see yourself? What is your life like? Are you getting distinct images or more obscure feelings?
New sheet of paper. At the top write, “10 years from now I…” Below, start making notes:
Add to your notes by answering / considering the following questions:
Of this life you’ve envisioned in 2033, let’s get more specific. On a new sheet of paper, draw 3 big circles. Title each circle as follows:
Remember, we are looking at you and your life in 2033. Inside each circle write what you want, what your life is like in that specific facet. Outside of the circle write down anything you don’t want. You might be very specific in one facet and only have vague or broad feelings in others. Consider how much time is spent on each facet. What do you want from each? What do you give to each? Think of specific actions as much as possible. Spend 2-3:00.
Then, referencing all the notes about your 10-year life, flip back to the page with your 3 Core Values, and below them write a Personal Vision Statement. You could also think of it as a personal motto or manifesto: a statement for who you want to be and how you want to live.
EXAMPLE: “I enjoy the freedom to travel the world, meet interesting people, and pursue an exciting, passion-filled life of learning.”
Now you know where you’re headed, it’s time to chart the path to get there! Start with one of your 10-year facet circles and write a goal for it. Perhaps it’s a different iteration of your Personal Vision Statement. Use the same guidance: Action Verbs, First Person, Present Tense…and give it a “By When” Date = January 2033.
Some guidance for all goals:
Finally, the most important step = actually DOING the thing! Focus on your 1-year goals, this is where ALL the action happens!
If you are revisiting this exercise and already had a set of goals from last year or last quarter, then it’s important to include here some reflection and evaluation:
Remember, the practice of writing vision and goals is a practice. Vision expands as you practice the art of removing perceived constraints & get more connected to what you truly want. Writing goals that are meaningful and purposeful—that advance you towards what you truly want—becomes easier as you gain clarity of vision. Stay present to enjoying the journey along the way!