Many of us set New Year’s Resolutions at the beginning of the year, but the fall seems to be another time when people like to set goals. The energy of returning to school and the change of seasons shifts people from the relaxing mode of summer into focusing on goals and plans for the future. The idea of mindfulness can influence goals we set by bringing a more realistic and achievable tone to them. Here are some mindfulness- influenced tips and ideas for setting goals:
Resist letting perception shape your goals: We all have limiting beliefs about ourselves. It’s part of being human. Our perceptions can negatively shape goals we set by getting in the way of aiming high. Statements like, “I’ll never be able to make more money,” or “I’d like to lose 15 pounds but I’ve never been able to lose weight before so I can’t possibly set a goal around losing weight” can fill our heads and spook us before we even begin. Your mindfulness practice can help you become more aware of these self-limiting beliefs, and help you start replacing them with positive, kinder self-talk.
Be specific: The more specific you can be, the greater the chance you’ll meet your goal. Vague goals around health and wellness, career, love and family life will only frustrate you. The more you can define your goal in concrete terms around weight and other health measurements, numbers, dates, time frames and any other metric that applies, the greater your chance of success.
Break it down: Along with defining your goal is measurable terms, break it down into milestones. The end game may be to get a new job, for instance, but the steps along the way may involve networking, making a video resume and doing informational interviews.
Reward yourself: Along with breaking down your goal into smaller pieces, take time to acknowledge yourself for a job well done at the completion of each milestone. Just as we have a tendency to resist shooting for the moon, we also, as humans, tend to be hard on ourselves. Take time to be proud of what you’ve achieved thus far by doing something meaningful for yourself.
Be compassionate when you trip up: As much as we’d like to believe we’ll have a direct line from start to finish, something is bound to trip you up along the way. If your goal is to run a marathon, you might get ill or work may interrupt your training. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have a week of business dinners that make it hard to eat healthy. Bring compassion to your goal setting process and instead of berating yourself for missing a workout or gaining back a pound, wake up the day after feeling refreshed and with a new commitment to start again. One of the basic tenets of mindfulness is that every day is a chance to begin again.
We wish you 20 minutes of mindfulness every day!
For more on goals, see our mindful hub worksheet: Using Mindfulness to Effect Personal Change
By contributing writer, Karen Fabian, Certified Baptiste Yoga teacher, founder, www.barebonesyoga.com.