Time to Rethink Goalsetting

For a good portion of my adult life, I set traditional goals. January came along, I would list what I wanted to accomplish and hoped they’d stick. However, ten years ago it all changed. I found myself less excited about the goals I was setting. I decided to do some digging to figure out why something that once worked for me no longer did. I discovered the annual goals I set were not connected to what I really wanted and what was truly important to me. I was setting arbitrary goals with arbitrary actions. I decided to shift my approach and look at goal setting differently. Instead of focusing on just an annual or quarterly goal, I started to focus on daily intentions that would pave the road to the goal(s) I wanted to achieve.

For many, January is goal month. Unfortunately, the goals set in January tend to be based on things people think they should do versus what they really want to. Failure is the result because they’re not truly connected and committed to what they want to achieve. Goals are then one and done. “I’ve failed, so I’m all done.” Additionally, setting some goal in January doesn’t take into account what may happen in February, June or August because life is everchanging. So, when something comes up, or there’s a major life event, and you “fall off the wagon” you’ve failed with no recourse. All done. Sure, there are some who have success with traditional goal setting, but for those that consistently fall short of their goals, maybe it’s time for a reboot.

For me, it all started with being intentional about choices I made each day. Choices that were congruent with what I wanted long-term (my ultimate goal). I would wake up each morning, look at the day ahead, ask what my intentions were for the day, things that mattered to me, and I set the course for my day. If something didn’t work, I’d regroup the next day. This was a game-changer. This strategy allowed me to assess what worked and what didn’t every day. When you’re setting goals in January, you’re not taking into account what will happen if you travel, lose a job, move to a new place, or get sick. As mentioned earlier, how your lifestyle and mind work in January is very different come March. When you set daily intentions, this gives you space to base your actions on where you are at the time.

What’s worked for me is an intention notebook. I sit down each morning with my notebook and ask, “What do I intend to accomplish today?” This allows me to connect to what I really want, what aligns with me (core values) and allows me to be more purposeful about my day-to-day actions. I am aligned with what I need to do every single day to make things happen and bring my goal to life. Further, if something comes up that might prohibit what I initially planned, I can adjust, no failure, just re-adjusting. Setting intentions are the building blocks of long-term success. Being intentional about what I do each day means there’s no end point. It’s a continuum.

To start, take a long hard look at where you are and what is meaningful to you moving forward. If you’re connected and intentional about what you’re doing each day, you’re far more likely to reach your goal(s). I will often add to my daily question on intentions, “Do these actions align with my long and short-term goal?” In other words, does it mean enough to me to stay committed. This way, I’m making sure that I’m focused on what I really want today, tomorrow and 10 years from now. You get to be reflective every day versus just setting some arbitrary goal that comes each January.

As you look to February, maybe you’ve already abandoned your goals. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still meet the goals you’ve set. Start the practice of daily intentions by aligning them with actions that will bring you closer to whatever goal you’re seeking. Living intentionally and planning accordingly may be just what you need to be more connected your outcomes. You’re more likely to realize your goals because you’re living each day on purpose. Now is the time to realize you true goals through intentional living. Here’s to your success!

Thinking Out Loud,


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