HOW TO: Set Healthy Goals and Intentions For The New Year
The new year is a time of renewal. Every year we watch our friends, acquaintances, and celebrities recap the year that has passed and announce to the world their new and improved plan of action. Whether the goal is to lose weight, get a new job, get a raise or promotion, or buy a car or home, we’re most likely sharing and talking about it on social media.
I get it—change is in the air and the excitement is contagious! For many of us, the new year feels like a time to start over, a clean slate. So what if we didn’t stick to last year’s resolutions? Maybe we didn’t quite reach our previous target. Once the new year comes, none of that seems to matter.
So why is it that the excitement begins to expire? Why do so many of us lose momentum on our New Year goals?
I don’t think the problem is our goals, but rather how we go about setting them. Below, read up on 5 tips for setting healthier goals and intentions for the new year:
GOAL-SETTING TIP #1: BEGIN WITH SELF-REFLECTION
Perhaps the biggest mistake people make with setting goals for the new year is that they jump the gun. If you don’t reflect on what happened the year before and why you didn’t reach certain goals, how do you expect to get a different result? The new year may feel like magic, but in reality, goals take focused intention, attention, energy, and effort.
Begin the new year by sitting down to reflect on the year that has passed and the year that has just arrived.
Before you set out to lose x number of pounds, ask yourself, “why wasn’t I able to meet my weight loss goals last year? What might be triggering me to overeat?” Before deciding to grow your social media following by x amount of people, ask yourself, “why do I want to grow a following? Is it to gain prospective clients or customers for my business? Is it to raise awareness about a specific cause? Is it to start dialogue with a community that shares my passions?” Analyzing the why behind your goals ensures that your intentions are set out of passion and self-awareness.
GOAL-SETTING TIP #2: DON’T SET GOALS THAT ARE DEPENDENT UPON OTHERS
Many times, without even noticing, we set goals that depend on other people or circumstances. We list things like, “get that promotion,” or “fall in love,” and while those things sound amazing in theory, they are not things we can make happen on our own.
Try to keep your goals centered around things you can manifest through your own belief, agency, and work ethic.
Instead of “get that promotion,” try “acquire the necessary skills to be a great candidate for that promotion.” Instead of “fall in love,” try “open my mind, heart, and schedule to receiving love from another.” It might seem like a subtle switch, but the language here really matters. By turning the focus back on yourself, you have set goals that you can actualize and bring to fruition without the approval of an outside party. Furthermore, framing your intentions in this way also puts the focus on the journey instead of the result, which makes for a more enjoyable process all around! This way, even if you are not awarded that promotion or you don’t fall in love, you’ve still grown in ways that are immeasurably valuable to your personal development.
GOAL-SETTING TIP #3: MEASURE PROGRESS WITH QUALITATIVE AND QUANTITATIVE BENCHMARKS
This is similar to the previous tip in that it’s about shifting your perspective about your goals. We tend to be driven by numbers—lose x pounds, make x money, buy x presents, etc. Quantitative goals are wonderful for getting specific about the nitty-gritty details of our desires. When we don’t put a number to things, we often find that our intentions are too broad or vague, and it becomes difficult to assess progress. The numbers, however, are only one side of effective and responsible goal-setting.
Goal-setting should be about quantity AND quality. It’s not just about how much, how many, or how far you get. It’s also about how you feel.
Qualitative measures of progress are extremely important because not all goals can or should be measured with facts and figures; some things are more subjective. For instance, if your goal is to get more sleep, quantitative benchmarks are fine—if you bump your nightly sleep up from six hours to eight, you’ve improved.
However, if your goal is to increase confidence, that’s not something that you can count with numbers. For experience-based goals, ask yourself, “how will I know that I have achieved this?” Maybe it’s when you can look in the mirror and give yourself a compliment without feeling uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s when you can wear that item of clothing you wouldn’t normally wear in public. Maybe it’s when you realize you spend less time comparing your life trajectory to that of your friends and family. Challenge yourself to set more quality-of-life-based goals.
GOAL-SETTING TIP #4: KEEP YOUR GOALS PRIVATE
This one is tough for a lot of people, especially in today’s age of social media. It’s natural to want to share, but this new year, I encourage you to try something new. Keeping our goals private keeps them sacred and dissolves the pressure to accomplish that comes with outside eyes. The less input we have from others on our plans, the more we can focus on the execution.
Don’t get caught up in achievement-porn, or the constant public sharing of personal victories.
Achievement-porn can cause us to subconsciously compare our lives to what we see on our timelines, sometimes making us feel unworthy, incapable, or unsuccessful by comparison. We compare our biggest setbacks to another person’s highlight reel and hold ourselves to impossible standards of someone else’s social media perfection. This year, I encourage you to keep your goals private; only share them with your trusted inner circle. This means people you can trust to bring only positive energy and breathe life into your desires. It’s okay to share things you’re proud of, as long as you’re living for yourself and not the approval of other people.
GOAL-SETTING TIP #5: KEEP A HOPEFUL JOURNAL
This final tip is my favorite. Oftentimes, when we’re chasing goals, we lose sight of the bigger picture—exercising our creative power to build a life that makes us happy.
Keeping a happiness journal is a wonderful method to record and reflect upon the moments that make us happy all year.
The concept is simple: get a journal to set on your bedside table or desk. Then, simply scribble on a piece of paper any moment, memory, or accomplishment from the year that brings you joy. I love to open my journal at the end of a tough day to reflect on the good days before starting fresh. As the year goes by, you’ll acquire more and more notesof paper, and you’ll have a visual representation of how your goals have been manifesting before your very eyes!
Whatever your goals are this new year, I wish you all the success and fulfillment in the world. While you’re out there pursuing greatness, don’t forget that the ultimate goal is a peaceful and contented spirit. Happy New Year!
DO YOU HAVE ANY DISCOMFORT OR ANXIETY SURROUNDING THE NEW YEAR? DO YOU NEED HELP SETTING AND PURSUING GOALS OR RESOLUTIONS? Contact Dr. Logan Jones for a complimentary phone consultation at 646.798.8354.
Dr. Logan Jones is a therapist with a private practice, NYC Therapy + Wellness, located in the Flatiron district of Manhattan. In addition to being a licensed psychologist, Logan is a professional performance coach. He works with clients to set positive, self-affirming intentions so that they may unlock their fullest capacity for personal and professional growth. He can help with goal-setting as well as building a plan of action for self-expansion. Contact him today.
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