Somehow, we’ve already rounded out the first month in 2016 and are a week into February. When did that even happen? I know time flies but sometimes, I swear, it’s engines engage and it goes warp speed! A classic Star Trek reference for my fellow Trekkies out there.
And, despite the fact that we tend to only focus on goal setting at the beginning of the year, I’m a firm believer that striving towards achievable and exciting goals year-round can really help you “live long and prosper.” Another reference! I’m on a roll!
As a big-time goal lover and strong advocate for year-round self-improvement, I’m going to share five simple ways I believe you can better set goals, stick to them, and be inspired by your own success to do it again.
So grab a “tea, Earl Grey, hot” (You thought I was done with those references didn’t you?) because we’re about to talk about setting simple, inspiring, and creative ways to set goals that will transform you into the person you want to become and allow you to boldly go where no one has gone before. Ok, now I’m officially done with the Star Trek talk.
- Take time to listen and pay attention
Sometimes we put arbitrary expectations on ourselves based on what we think we’re supposed to be doing. Like “I should exercise so I’m going to make it a goal to run every day.” But maybe running isn’t great for your body. It always feels like a chore, and by forcing yourself to do it, you feel more frustration and resentment than inspiration and health. Maybe your body is trying to tell you to try something else that will make you so much happier.
The same is true for your career goals. Sure, maybe all your peers are taking a certain class or attending various seminars. And not that, like running, those couldn’t be of some benefit to you. But there’s no reason you need to do anything just because it seems like the thing you should be doing. If you’re really feeling compelled to take a different direction, creatively or otherwise, do it! Always go with your instincts rather than trying to fit into what some outside standards make you feel obligated to do.
Whatever it is you decide, be protective of the quiet time you need to actually listen to yourself. Take time to pay attention to your personal situation and what your heart is desiring in that moment. It, like goals, can change. And there’s a good chance that if it’s changing, it’s changing to go in a direction that will bring you significantly more happiness.
Sometimes it’s as simple as taking time to simply say “I’m listening” to yourself while quietly going about some activity. I’ve found that reminding yourself opens you to the inner wisdom your intuition has to offer. And even if that wisdom is subtle and frustratingly silent, it’s still valuable in creating organic goals that serve your true nature most effectively.
- Be honest
Take an honest look at your own situation. If you can, step outside of it and evaluate it. Enlist a beloved friend or trusted loved one who can help you with this step if you want. It’s grueling and usually unpleasant, but completely necessary.
I recently had an accidentally intense “argument” with my boyfriend about my career. I had poured him a glass a wine and we were casually recapping our week when, for various reasons, the conversation turned to my career. Somehow (likely thanks to the wine) we really got into it and he (lovingly) broke down my situation from a third-party perspective. After a couple intense hours, we realized the honest truth about why I was doing what I was doing and the ways in which it was holding me back. It was painful, sure. But it was also liberating. I realized there’s another human who is so invested in my success that he was willing to fight for me even when I wasn’t able to see that I wasn’t fighting for myself.
After that conversation, I was able to be honest with myself and catered my personal goals to be protective of the new found courage that came from that honesty.
- Emotions are your friend
In order to live in polite society, we’re careful to not show too much emotion because it can be seen as a weakness, like we don’t have control over ourselves. While I won’t advocate for everyone to suddenly start having a hugely intense range of emotions about everything, I think it’s fair to let them bubble up and at least listen to them as they do.
For example, if you are truly exhausted and frustrated at the current shape of your body or the current status of your career, take a moment to really feel that frustration and let it emotionally imprint on you. That way, the next time you get yourself up early to workout or set aside time to do something to forward your career, you can go back to that emotional imprint as a reminder of why you’re doing it in the first place. Both positive and negative emotions have their value if you listen to them, validate them, and then learn from them.
- Set yourself up for success
You can’t make lemonade if you don’t have lemons. And, even if you do have lemons, it’s still difficult to make it if you don’t have the proper tools. If you’re lacking a juicer, how are you going to squeeze the lemons? If you don’t have a pitcher, what are you going to squeeze the lemons into?
Take time to be proactive. Look around your environment and do what it takes to give yourself the highest percentage likelihood for success.
Change is the only constant, so accept the fact that, like your life, your goals will need constant reevaluation and tweaking based on wherever your present circumstances have taken you.