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Setting Goals that Stick: How to set Goals for the New Year that don't Overwhelm

Never once have I been able to stick with a "New Year's Resolution."

I start the year off strong and about a month or two in - actually, let's be real, usually a few weeks in - I'm back to my same old patterns I was trying to disrupt.

"It's too hard. It's not that big of a deal. I'll get to it eventually. I'll start over next month." And those are the kindest of the thoughts - the worst of them are along the lines of "I'll never change, I don't deserve to be happy, I'm doomed to be this way forever."

If you're anything like me, you've probably had this experience. Setting goals of self-betterment, only to not meet them and then beat yourself up over it.

Finally, after years of this same cycle, I decided to give myself some grace. And allowed myself to realize I wasn't the "resolution" type. If I don't feel aligned with the goal I set for myself internally, I'm never going to follow through. It's just the way I operate - I can't force myself into something that doesn't actually fulfill me - and you don't have to either.

We also often set our goals based on external expectations - what we "should" be doing to keep up with the rest of society - or worse - to keep up with the false picture of "perfection" blatantly blasted in our faces by "influencers" on social media.

This year, I encourage you to shed the narrative of not being good enough, of comparing yourself to others, and consider what feels in alignment with your core, with who you are, and where you are headed in this magnificent life, on your own unique path.

As you review the following activities for aligning your goals, you may want to consider some of the following questions, or use them as journal prompts for deeper introspection:

What would you like more of in your life this year?

What narrative about yourself would you like to re-write?

What intentions do you bring into this year?

Are there specific goals or milestones you desire to reach this year?


The Mindful Nature Walk

Instructions: Allow yourself plenty of time to take a walk in nature - it doesn't have to be in wilderness - you could find a local park, or simply walk around your neighborhood.

  1. Allow yourself to begin by taking three deep cleansing breaths in through the nose and three deep releasing exhales through the mouth.

  2. As you begin to walk, allow your mind to clear, and your intentions to settle on the goals or intentions you would like to focus on for the year.

  3. Identify no more than 3 primary goals - and it could be anything - connection, love, self-compassion, forgiveness, gratitude, finances, abundance, physical health, mental health, spirituality, etc.

  4. As you walk, allow yourself to daydream and feel into reaching these goals, and what it would feel like to have a life full of gratitude, or connection, or whatever it is you choose to focus on.

  5. Simultaneously pay attention to your surroundings, savoring the beauty of nature, and as you walk, pick up three objects - one each to represent your three primary goals. Allow these objects to remind you of your goals and intentionally place these items in an area of your home where you can easily see them and be reminded of your focus.


The Quartered Method

Instructions: Break the year into four quarters, allowing yourself to focus on only one or two goals for each quarter. This keeps your energy from becoming diluted by having too many goals. It can also continue to propel you forward as you re-set and re-evaluate your goals each quarter.

  1. Break the year into quarters with 3 months each.

  2. Identify your goals for each quarter. Your goals can build on each other or be completely new ones for each quarter. You can also take it one quarter at a time.

  3. Use the nature walk method to identify objects to represent your goals and do this activity at the start of each quarter. Or, identify your goals for each quarter and then break them down into manageable steps and organize them on a calendar.

  4. Re-set and Re-evaluate your goals every three months. The key here is to not beat yourself up if you don't reach every single goal. But to take this time to determine if your goals really feel in alignment with your values and your life path. And if not, simply altar them without judgment.

These are just a few ways to review your intentions for the new year. I encourage you to find a method that works best for you. And you can do these activities at any time, no need to wait for January 1st. Every day is a new opportunity.

Disclaimer: This blog post is for informational purposes only and does not constitute medical advice. It is essential to consult with healthcare professionals before considering any treatment options for depression or mental health conditions.

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