For those joining us this week, the answer to the above question is provided in two parts. If you would like to read the first half, please go here.
2022 was a tough year for me personally and professionally, with so much change. I found myself feeling overwhelmed many days and didn’t know where to focus my attention to meet my goals. I am feeling optimistic about the new year, but I really need to nail down a way to prioritize what I should be working on to reach my goals and stop spinning my wheels on things that aren’t really going to make an impact in my life and move the needle. I’ve heard a ton about “mindfulness” and how it can help us stay focused on what really matters, but I don’t think I fully understand what it means and how to get started. Help!
-In search of clarity and balance"
How did reflecting on 2022 go? Was there anything that surprised you? Perhaps you didn’t
have time and included it in your list of goals for this week. No problem. All things happen
as they are meant to. At a minimum, pause and say, “You are doing a great job.” 😊
In a storm, a boat will get tossed around, and once the waters calm, a captain will stop and
assess any damage and determine if the original destination is still the best course. From
the sounds of it, you had a year that may have thrown you off course from your own personal
goals. Taking time to take inventory of where you are will help ensure you are setting your
course in the right direction. That direction is 2023.
Prioritize your goals
A clearly defined goal was my nemesis for many years, if not decades. To be completely
honest, I rarely documented or tracked where I was in the process other than checking off
one more class towards my degree, an exam for my license, or a promotion. My dreams were
rolling around in my head and, occasionally, I would secretly scribble one or two in the
margins of my papers (and my life).
Like you, I shared the feeling of spinning my wheels.
There are countless goal-setting tools, programs, and books - and a nugget of wisdom can
likely be gained from each. What I am going to share with you is my own process to identify
what goal I want to focus on and determine if it is aligned with all aspects of my life. Use
what feels right, adapt as you feel called, and have fun. They are your dreams, after all,
and they should SPARK JOY.
As mentioned in the prior column, the first place I recommend starting is to make a list of
- All of them. If you feel it, celebrate it and give it a place on the page.
- I am big on writing in my journals, but you can use electronic tools if that works best
- Use Column style or random put words on paper... get them out there!
Goal Setting Reimagined
It's time to reimagine a new way to set goals. Think of the process as a boutique experience versus a
big box store transaction.
Try this exercise:
Close your eyes and take 3 breaths (yes again), and when you open your eyes what
are the top 5 dreams your eyes are drawn to.
- Pick the ones you want to do vs the ones you think you need to pick as a
responsible and hard-working adult.
- Does it excite you? Feel big and crazy? Years in the future? Maybe it is
something that has been calling to you for a while. Why not see what it has
- Pick the ones that excite you most. Even if they have nothing to do with
TIP: You need to let yourself have fun in the process. You likely listed all the responsible adult stuff, and the list isn’t going to disappear. Have fun with this. You can’t do it wrong, and nobody will see this but you. With that in mind why not pick all the one-day stuff. It is a great way to test and refine the process. Life gets busy and we squeeze fun into the extra moments.
Now that you have your five (or six) goals, it's time to refine your choices. Remember, boutique over big box!
In October 2022, Behavioral Scientist published an article on how studies have shown that having too many choices results in people feeling overloaded and result in an array of negative emotions, including frustration, confusion, regret, and even choice paralysis.
Can you relate? I sure can. It is like going to Costco for the first time after working way too many hours during tax season and rarely venturing out into public: Choice overwhelm.
Select three goals from the list you made in the last exercise.
- Choose three that light you up and get you excited.
- Note if you start to feel anxious here. If so, remind yourself all is okay
It is easy to get caught up here and wonder about picking the wrong ones. That is the beauty of it. You can’t do this part wrong. Nothing is set in stone and you don’t have to take action on any of them. This is an experiment on learning to focus.
Now select one of the three goals.
- What? Yes, select one. It is okay. This is for experimentation purposes. Just to help you get comfortable with the idea of focusing on one goal at a time.
- Picking a far-off goal that seems unobtainable can work in your favor here.
Imagine what it would feel like to accomplish that goal? Don’t just rush onto the next step. Close your eyes, visualize it, and what it feels. I trust it feels amazing. If it doesn’t, you might want to revisit the list and select something else.
Now that you have identified a goal that is important to you the next step is to get to know about it. Think of it as interviewing your dream. Ask ..
- What excites me about this goal?
- What about this goal am I most worried about?
- Do I have the resources (time, money, energy) to accomplish this goal?
- If not now, which is reasonable, will I through out the course of moving towards this goal?
- What are steps or components of this goal that I need to be thinking about?
For example, if your goal is to take salsa lessons, your steps could look like this:
- 1. Identify a dance studio.
2. Find out cost of taking lessons.
3. Research equipment needed.
4. Determine drive time to dance studio.
5. Listen to music, watch videos
BONUS: If you are a visual person, feel free to download a sample of my goal-setting forms here.
Finding the gold
The next step has been gold in my goal setting process. With all my goals I score them in three areas: Soul, Self, and Wealth. You can create categories that work for you. Make it your own.
- Soul - What lights you up from the inside
- Self - Who you are in the world personally and professionally. Does this fit your life?
- Wealth – Financial and Energetic
For each component of the goal (or dream) evaluate how it would feel doing each one. Based upon how it would feel to complete the task give it a ranking
- Star 🌟 – Sparks Joy. Energy positive. Excited to do this.
- Circle/smile 😊 - Good. Energy positive.
- Check ✔️ - Neutral. Break even.
- X – Energy drain. Not excited.
Tip: How do you know if it is a star, smile, check, or x? Close your eyes and imagine doing that part of the task? Does it make you excited, happy, relaxed, or anxious, stressed, and uncertain? The mind may overthink it so let your body guide you.
You now have a good picture of the areas of what you are excited about and what might create roadblocks. If you have a few Xs on your page it doesn’t mean don’t do it. Look at each X as gold because you know it is a piece you need to delegate, not bunch other x tasks, or evaluate if there is another way to upgrade. For example, driving to the dance studio might receive an X and could keep a person from making progress on their goal. Ask, “What could I do to change the X into a check or a smile?”. In this example it could be using the commute time to call family, get caught up on podcasts, or listen to an audio book.
That is my process. I use it in many areas of my life and not just work. Remember that adult goal you had on your original big list? Perhaps it is implementing a new software at work, hiring a new team member, or adding a new product. Go back and use the same process on any of those as often as you need. Share it with your team and see if you all come up with similar results. If not, is one of your team members more excited about one aspect of the project than another? Is it one that you determined could be a roadblock for you? Excellent!!!
Please remember to have fun with the process. Don’t try and do it all at once if that isn’t your style. Feeling overwhelmed? Take a break and do something creative. Just drawing can calm the nervous system and allow you to keep making progress. Just keep showing up for your dreams. You deserve it.
I know this has been a longer than usual response, but goal setting has become a passion of mine and it isn’t something we can rush. With all this content you may be wondering when I am going to get to mindfulness. Per Mindful.org, “Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Would it surprise you to know you have been learning about mindfulness in both articles? Breathing, closing your eyes, visualizing, and feeling can all bring you into the present moment. Just asking the question shows awareness and opens to the door to create more intention in your life. Take time to “feel” your goals versus think about them and trust that nothing will guide you to create goals in alignment with who you are more than your own body.
Practice learning what it feels to spark joy with your goals and the wheels will slow down, optimism will last long into the year, and the needle will move in the direction of your dreams.
Wishing you health, happiness, and peace. Until we meet again. 🙏🏼
Robina is a Soul, Self, Wealth Doula, Certified Money Coach, and retired CPA. She works with leaders, companies, and business owners to align goals with reality and transform their relationship with money. If you want to know more about Robina, you can visit her at www.robinabennion.com.
Do you have questions about business, navigating a career, how to create work/life alignment, money types, and mindset, goal setting, mid-life career changes, or curious about mindfulness? Soul, Self, Wealth, Relationships, and Spirituality too? Yes. Business is more than employees, technology, and deadlines. If it is important to you and you want to find a way to incorporate it into your business/career or are curious about what that looks like. Submit your question to Ask Robina HERE!