Here we are again, at the beginning of a new year, and eeeeeevvveerrrryyyoonnneee is talking about goal setting.
Cue eye roll 🙄
I remember the days when setting goals felt pointless. I really seriously believed that. I got to the point where I stopped setting goals for myself because time and time again I got myself all excited and worked up, feeling confident I would follow through this time and inevitably the momentum would fall flat because, well, life. I had never actually had success in setting goals, and I had never had a teacher or mentor who showed me how to set goals and actually achieve them (why the heck don't we teach this stuff in school btw?!).
Last year, however, I set three major life goals and I achieved ALL OF THEM. No joke.
I bought a house and made it feel like a comfortable, safe, cozy home.
I got engaged and started intentionally planning a marriage and life with my partner.
I established myself as a professional classical singer in my community.
A few days before New Years I realized that I had actually set goals, methodically tackled them, and fricken rocked them! I felt into the incredibly satisfying and elated feeling of actually seeing real progress in my life and realizing that I can make my dreams come true. Woo hoo! What a sensational experience.
So, now I am one of those annoying people who is posting about goal setting and how you can live the life of your dreams...
But, if there is anything 2019 has shown me, it's that I can dream big, set goals and create an amazingly satisfying and fulfilling life. And if I can do it, so can you!
There are a few things that I did very differently this time around that I think will help you, too. Even if you are reading this reluctantly and skeptically, because you believe that goal setting is for the birds. 🐥 (you have to admit though, birds do have awesome lives).
#1 Start with "WHY"
In my goal setting past, I used to resolve to "quit eating sugar for one year" or "only drink on the weekends" or "exercise more." Those were all valuable things to consider in terms of my health and well being, but ultimately the reason why I wanted to do those things was either because someone told me it was good for me, or because I was constantly treating myself as a self improvement project (mostly because I cared SO MUCH about what other people thought of me). When we are setting goals in a mindset of "I am inherently bad and I need to do these things to be better" then you are automatically setting yourself up for failure. Why? Because you are approaching your goals from a place of negativity. You are focusing on the things that are wrong with you and how you need to fix them, which will only attract more negative thinking and beliefs about yourself. You will be stuck in a self deprecating vortex, you will slip up (we all do) and you will hate yourself for failing again, because you already hated yourself in the first place! (this is where self compassion comes in, which I will write another blog post about at a later date). When you get into that place of self hatred, THAT is when goal setting feels terrible and you decide you might as well just give up on the whole idea, because what is the point anyway? 😔
The alternative is to go big picture, understand what you really want in life and how you can contribute to the greater good. In other words, figure out your "why." Connecting to a grander reason for setting your goals, beyond the limited, small thinking of "I am bad and need to fix myself" will fuel your goal work the same way a good dose of protein and carbs fuels your workout - you will be able to tap into a greater energy source and you will be able to remind yourself that ITS NOT ALL ABOUT YOU which gives you stamina. When achieving your goal means that you are making an important contribution to a cause that matters to you, you will have something bigger than yourself to connect to and feel inspired by when the going gets challenging.
#2 Prioritize and Eliminate
After you figure out your "why" you have to actually make space in your life for the cause, loved one, or project that you have determined is truly important to the grander scheme of your life. That means it's time to identify what you want to go big on in life, make it the most important thing you do every day, week, month, year, AND eliminate the distractions and obstacles that are keeping you from spending your time in ways that count.
#3 Be grateful for your progress every day
It's true what they say, the attitude of gratitude will take you really far when it comes to living a happy life. Did you know that when we feel gratitude it actually releases dopamine and serotonin in our brains? How cool is that! When you cultivate gratitude in your every day experience, you will be happier, and that's a fact. And, if you explicitly express gratitude for things that you want more of in your life, you will build neural pathways that actually help your brain pursue those things more successfully. Finding ways to express gratitude for the areas in your life where you want to experience transformation (like your home, family, career, money etc) will actually wire your brain to make you believe that you are already experiencing success in those areas, and weaken the wiring that is telling you that you are failing. When you feel successful, you will experience more success. Take time every day to name at least one thing you are grateful for that is related to each of your major goals.
#4 Take time to plan
As my good friend Emyrald Sinclaire says "Fail to plan, plan to fail." No truer words have been spoken. Most of the steps I outline in this post rely on the fact that you have actually taken the time to make some plans. Take 20 minutes each day, about 30 minutes every week, and about an hour per month to make sure that you are planning your time so you can use it in the most effective way possible. Planning my time has made invaluable contributions to my success, especially as a professional singer (gotta get that practice time in am I right?!).
REST. omg. rest.
I cannot emphasize enough how incredibly important it is to actually make time every day, week, month and year to just rest. Tying in with the planning element here, you have to create the space in your life to stop, be quiet, still, and let your mind and body take a break from the kick ass work you are doing in the world (if you have set meaningful goals with a "why" and you are using the ingredients in this blog for an awesome "life goals soup" then you are most certainly doing kick ass work in the world!) If you don't rest you will be unproductive and what you offer up will not be effective or engaging. You can't give from an empty well, but you can give generously from a well that is overflowing. Take the time to fill your well.
#6 Find a mentor
2019 was the year where I slayed my goals for the first time ever (and they were the biggest goals I have ever set)
2019 also happens to be the first year I ever hired a coach.
Coincidence? I THINK NOT.
Investing in yourself is probably the single most impactful way that you can make your dreams a reality and make an impact in the world. I know that making an investment in yourself, spending significant amounts of money on you and just you, can seem scary and maybe even unnecessary. But I am here to tell you that I would not be where I am today if I hadn’t taken the very important actions of investing in personal development coaches and voice teachers. I have invested thousands of dollars in myself in the last three years and these investments have catapulted me forward in ways that I never even imagined were possible. I don’t regret a dime I spent and you better believe I am budgeting for more coaching in 2020.
And can we just talk about all that money you spent on college? People spend YEARS of their lives and astonishing amounts of money learning “hard” skills in school but walk away without the applicable “soft” skills and life practices they need to truly be successful. When you find a coach whose message and approach really connects with you and what you need, you will learn the "soft" life management skills that people do not even have access to at the highest and most expensive levels of education (unfortunately). I know, from a decade of experience teaching at all levels of formal education, that the very things I have learned from coaches (and which I now implement in my own life coaching and voice teaching businesses) are exactly what is missing from our education system and they are the skills people need THE MOST to live happy, successful and fulfilled lives.
Thanks for reading, and may you cook up a delicious and satisfying goal setting soup for 2020! 🍵