January 25, 2023

Mindful Goal Setting

We’re all familiar with the slogan ‘New Year, new me’ which has steadily morphed into ‘New Year, same me’ and I understand that feeling. The desire to improve and grow on the 2022 version of myself is definitely strongest at the beginning of a new year however, for the first time, it has felt overwhelming to the point of inaction.  

It is worth mentioning that I know goal setting and New Year’s Resolutions aren’t really the same thing however, I do think they lean on similar themes of self-development and accomplishment. It is only you who will truly be holding yourself accountable for both.

I am not particularly fond of New Year’s Resolutions. They usually seem to come from denying ourselves something fun. So, for the last few years, I have been trying to build rather than takeaway. Instead of losing weight, I aimed to ‘get really strong’ in 2019. Not only did my fitness level skyrocket, I felt empowered and powerful. In 2020, I decided to be intentionally friendly in the minor interactions I have with others in my day-to-day life with the aim of being more aware, less glued to my phone. Both resolutions provided me with greater fulfilment and helped me overcome insecurities in a positive way.

Ironically, however, the year I was gifted a ‘Little Calm & Happy Planner’ was the first time I have felt anxious and overwhelmed by the targets I was setting myself. Potentially, my feelings of anxiety came from writing down some quite big life changes which I had previously only verbalised. However, the more I think about it, the more I am realising that I started at the wrong point. I sat down, with my fresh planner and wrote down the end of the journey. I hadn’t put all of the pieces in place to show how I’m going to get there. There was no plan in the planner.

Therefore, to quiet my anxiety, I will be trying again. I will keep the same goals in place, but I will work my way backwards, building in the steps I need to take me, in reverse, back to where I am now. Then, I will be able to hold myself accountable, not for the big goal, but for the smaller more attainable ones. I think the same method can be used for anything that feels overwhelming, breaking it down into smaller pieces that can be ingested and tackled individually takes us away from being caught up in the enormity of a challenge.  

This a common strategy for goal setting. Whether you’re familiar with the S.M.A.R.T method or not, attainability is a core aspect of ensuring goals are productive. However, it is easy to forget to put in the small steps or to take the time to reflect and readjust along the way to ensure that we have the mental capacity to keep hitting those smaller targets. There should be no shame in needing to break up the path or to amend the steps along the way. By continually checking-in with yourself and verifying that the next target is manageable will allow the space to succeed in a way that supports mental health and ensures long term productivity.  

And anyway, January is a universally acknowledged garbage month so what’s the harm in putting our minds in a different part of the year and working backwards, joining the dots up in time for February!  

If you’d like a guide and framework to goal setting, I particularly like this one:


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