There’s a right way to set goals, but we weren’t taught itFeatured

Still making progress towards your 2023 New Year’s resolutions or goals? If not, don’t fret. According to studies*, only 8% of people achieve their resolutions and nearly 35% give up on their goals by February. But I’m pretty sure I know why you may have already abandoned yours.

Here’s the truth about your goals. The ones that got tossed aside, that you created with best intentions but just couldn’t get traction, well, they were meaningless to you. You simply didn’t care deeply about them and therefore the momentum to work towards them never manifested.

While we’re taught to build goals that aren’t too vague or unrealistic, we aren’t told how to set the “right” goals. In order for a goal to be accomplished, it must be meaningful and you must be able to envision it coming to fruition.

So no, you’re not a failure with your goals. You just skipped a critical step in the goal-setting process. But nearly everyone does. A survey by the American Psychological Association found that lack of willpower was the most commonly cited reason for not achieving goals. And what gives you the determination to work towards your goals? Your why. When it comes to goal-setting, we tend to jump straight to the what and the how. But lacking a clear understanding of why you are doing something is often the reason you’re missing the drive necessary to see your goals to completion. Internal drive builds momentum, and it’s the pull you need in order to make progress towards your goals.

But drive isn’t the only component required to have the kind of momentum that builds and enables you to stay focused and motivated even when faced with stumbling blocks. You must also have a personal connection to the goal itself. When you create goals based on external expectations, generic benchmarks, or what you’re “supposed to achieve,” you are participating in lazy goal-setting. And that leads to meaningless, and eventually abandoned, goals. What a waste!

Instead, when you take the time to reflect on what truly matters to you, it becomes easier to set goals that are meaningful and fulfilling. And that’s where you hit the momentum sweet spot. Now you might be asking, “How do I set these big, juicy, purposeful goals?”. Well, that part takes some work.

First, you need to get clear on your vision and this step requires deep inner work, including self-reflection and tapping into your imagination.

When you think creatively and vividly about the life you want now and in the future, you are taking part in surfacing your vision. That vision should be colorful, full of intricate details, and so realistic that you can feel it. Because feeling it is another element of building and sustaining momentum.

There are several visioning techniques, including guided meditations, but here’s one of the easiest ways to help your vision bubble up to the surface of your consciousness:

Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Imagine you've just had a wonderful night of sleep and you are now waking up to a new day. Open your eyes and see your surroundings. Touch your bedding, feel the temperature in the room, see the morning sun peeking through the window.

Imagine you’re living your greatest life, and you're enveloped in feelings of abundance and bliss.

Now, in very specific and clear detail, observe what this ideal day looks like. Watch as you move through it step by step.

Where are you?

Who is with you?

What are you doing?

Now get even more specific.

How do you feel?

How do you look?

How does your body feel?

What are you wearing?

What car do you drive?

What job do you have?

What is your home like?

What are you eating?

How are your relationships?

What is in your bank account?

What do you enjoy doing?

What are you looking forward to?

What are you most grateful for?

Open your eyes and, with incredible detail, write everything you envisioned. Repeat this ritual regularly to gain even more clarity about how your life is meant to be.

Next, you’ll break the vision down into intentions and goals. Intentions are present-tense “I am” or “I feel” statements. Most people don’t take the time to set intentions for their goals, but that’s a costly mistake. In order to accomplish your goals without a sense of struggle, you must first embody the emotions associated with achieving them. And that’s what intentions represent. Instead of believing you’ll feel financially free once you achieve your goal of paying off debt, set an intention now to feel free from the burden of your loan balance. And then use your intention statement like a daily affirmation.

When it comes to setting your goals, yes, they should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound), but they should also be bite-sized. While the subconscious mind helped you surface your grandiose vision, it’s easily overwhelmed by big goals. Ironic, right? This is because the subconscious mind is wired to seek safety and avoid risk, and a large goal can seem really scary. If the subconscious mind perceives a goal as too daunting or unlikely to be achieved, it will cause you to feel anxious and resistant in an effort to keep you in the safety zone. So don’t compromise that huge, audacious goal, just chunk it down into smaller ones.

Still feel like you’ve failed with your goals? Don’t. They were probably wrong for you anyway. Make a point now to only aim for achieving goals that are truly meaningful to you. Commit to happily abandoning any goals that don’t elicit a positive emotional response when you think about them being realized. Do the inner work and then let your vision drive you to take the action required for it to fully manifest in your life.

So what goals are you ready to toss to the curb?

*According to a study by the University of Scranton, only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year's resolutions. A survey by FranklinCovey found that 35% of people abandon their goals after the first month.

This is great! I have found I have set obligatory goals- and for sure I lost my way with them because they had no real why aside from I “should” do them. One I’ve abandoned year after year is reading 12 books a year. A noble goal, but why- or what, it lacked for sure!