10 Tips to Help You Set Goals with Intention

New Year, New goals

If you are one of those people who fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions or who struggle with achieving a goal and tend to feel bad about not meeting your goals, I get it. I recently looked at a list of goals I set at the beginning of last year and was surprised how many of them I hadn’t achieved and most of them I’d forgotten about. 

I’m guilty of making common mistakes that keep me from achieving my goals, including, setting vague goals that look more like a wish list, not giving much thought to why I want to achieve a specific goal, or not giving myself a specific timeframe to achieve the goal. The worst part, however, is the feelings of guilt, shame and failure that can follow from not achieving the goal. It can be demoralizing.

As I move through my wellness journey, I’ve been thinking about this more deeply and I’ve decided to revise my approach to goal setting and make some much-needed changes. This time around I’m taking a more intentional approach to setting goals and doing things differently, to better set myself up for success. 

So, if you are planning on setting some goals this year, here are 10 practical goal setting tips I plan to apply, that I hope can help you move forward with intention in crushing your goals this time around.

10 Simple Tips for Intentional Goal Setting

1. Start goal setting with a positive mindset

In the words of the great Mary J. Blige, “we don’t need no hateration in this dancerie.” First things first, let’s wipe the slate clean and let go of all the negative vibes about goal setting you’ve been holding on to. Instead of thinking of any past mistakes with goal setting as failures and beating yourself up about it, choose to look at this as an opportunity for learning and personal growth. It’s a chance to reflect, reassess and make adjustments. Focus more on the possibilities the year can offer and let that positive mindset motivate you to do better. 

2. Set SMART goals

A well-known rule of goal setting is that any goal you set should be S.M.A.R.T (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-based). For example, saying, “I want to lose weight”, is more of a wish than an actual goal. Instead, the S.M.A.R.T goal could be, “I want to lose 10 pounds by March 30.” This then allows you to come up with actionable steps you will take to achieve the goal. 

Another key element to achieving success with your goals is that you will have to be consistent and regularly keep track of how things are going. 

3. Do it for you (not for anyone else)

Think about goals that align most with your values and what’s important to you (and not what others want). If it’s something that matters to you, you’ll be more motivated to achieve it.

It might be helpful to ask yourself, “why do I want to achieve this goal?” It may sound silly, but you can be influenced by the needs and expectations of other people and not even realize it. For example, your love of social media and spending hours scrolling through the curated lifestyles of your favourite Instagram accounts might be influencing your desires. It’s important to be very clear about why you want to achieve a certain goal and what the motivation is.  

4. Be mindful about the number of goals set

Some people say set two or three goals or no more than seven. However, I’m a big believer in doing what feels right for you. But there are some questions you can ask yourself in determining how many goals to set to make it easier for you. You might also want to consider breaking your goals into areas of life, like, personal growth, career, money, and health and wellness or short-term, medium and long-term goals.

Regardless of your approach, it’s important to be mindful about the number of goals you set so that you are not putting pressure on yourself or causing undue stress by setting too many. 

5. Think about substance over size 

Goals do not have to be big and audacious, although if that’s where you’re at then go for it! I’ll be over here cheering you on! Even with big goals, starting with smaller habits may be the key to success. 

But the important thing to keep in mind is that small goals are still goals and should be celebrated as you do with bigger goals you accomplish. Ultimately, it’s about how meaningful the goals you set are to you and why you want to accomplish them and not necessarily about the size. 

6. Plan to get uncomfortable

Consider including an achievable goal that will challenge you. Think about getting in touch with the fear, you know that justification that’s really an excuse you’ve been using for not tackling that goal? Yeah, that one. Take a moment to sit with it and determine if it’s fear that’s holding you back from setting a particular goal. Name it and then make plans to conquer it.

Why would you want to do something like that? Well, stepping outside your comfort zone by doing something that scares you a little can be rewarding and great for personal growth. 

7. Express yourself in writing and pictures

Write down your goals to improve your chances of success. In addition to writing down your goals and setting out the steps you plan to take to achieve them, why not kick it up a notch and get creative with a visual representation of those goals that you can look at regularly. This can bring an element of creativity and fun into the goal-setting process but it can also increase your chances of achieving your goals.

8. Get help to keep you accountable

Sometimes having someone hold you accountable can motivate you to achieve your goals. I know that the times I’ve been consistent and crushed my workout goals are when I’ve worked with a personal trainer or joined a group Bootcamp for a six-week program (it has to be time-limited for me). 

If having some level of accountability will help you stay on track with your goals, then think about including this as part of your goal setting action plan. This might look like, announcing your goal on social media and sharing regular updates or ask a supportive family member or friend for help. Find a solution that works for you.

9. Consistently check on it

When I say check on it, I’m talking about the practice of tracking your progress and assessing how things are going. One way to do that is to set up a regular time to review your goals and make any necessary adjustments, like, adjusting the timelines or the scope of the goal. If you’ve reached a milestone, this can serve as a good reminder to celebrate the small wins.

10. Give yourself some grace

Sometimes the journey we take to achieve our goals may take a different path than we intended. Things come up, opportunities appear, stuff doesn’t work out. Life happens. Don’t get down on yourself and feel like you’ve failed. Instead, show yourself some grace and be kind to yourself. These are your goals, after all, and you get to set the rules. 

Remember why you set the goals in the first place and, in the words of another one of my favourite artists, Aaliyah, “and if at first, you don’t succeed, then dust yourself off and try again.”

This post first appeared on Swell Made Co Blog

About cassandra mcd.

World's coolest aunt (so I've been told). I'm all about personal growth and living a healthy lifestyle that prioritizes self-care and mental wellness. I want to embrace aging with swagger (and less gray hair), living life more mindfully and filled with an abundance of gratitude.
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