How to Set Mindful Goals for the New Year
Every year, we hear the same message loud and clear: ‘new year, new me’.
We put pressure on ourselves to set lofty new years’ resolutions. We create complicated routines, start dozens of new habits and try to reinvent ourselves in a short space of time.
But 2020 was a very different kind of year. It shook us right down to our foundations. Along with every other aspect of our lives, it reshaped the way we make plans, set goals, and make demands of ourselves.
Most of our plans, goals and resolutions for 2020 had to change, and it wasn’t through a lack of discipline or focus on our part, but through sheer circumstance. As we adjust our lifestyles to a new reality, our new years’ goals and resolutions have to evolve along with us.
This new year, we have an opportunity not just to set new goals, but to review our relationship with goal-setting to make sure that each goal serves us instead of adding unnecessary pressure.
Having a healthy relationship with goal-setting means that we can use goals and resolutions to create meaningful change in our lives, instead of setting empty goals that challenge our self-worth. We can also feel prepared for when things don’t go to plan and have coping mechanisms in place to reduce the impact.
Whether or not you like to set goals and resolutions for the new year, thinking about your direction can be a helpful exercise in self-reflection. In this post, we’re walking you through our process for impactful goal-setting.
What are the benefits of setting goals?
You might think goal-setting is simply a way to challenge yourself and reach a target, but there is more to it than meets the eye. Setting goals actually comes with a range of positive side-effects for both the mind and the body.
- Goals provide a clear direction for navigating life. This sense of direction is even more important than reaching the goal itself because it puts you in the right frame of mind to take action on the things you care about.
- Working on, and reaching, goals can boost your self-esteem and help you manage your everyday mental health. Studies have shown that goals can help those suffering with mental health issues such as depression to regain a sense of control over their wellbeing.
- Setting measurable goals can help you to train your focus and self-discipline.
Apart from these benefits, goal-setting is also a mindful activity. It prompts you to reflect on your life, evaluate its positive and negative aspects, and envision a different way of doing things. Then, it challenges you to find ways of bringing your dreams into reality.
Step-by-step, you can alter the course of your life through mindful goal-setting.
Before you start setting goals for the new year:
1. Reflect on the previous year. What went right, and what could have gone better? What would you like to see more of in the new year, and what are the things you would rather leave behind? We find that writing the answers down helps us to see the full picture instead of focusing on the downsides.
2. Set clear priorities. Think about the areas of your life that are most important to you right now. You might wish to prioritise your health and fitness, career, family or something else altogether. The key is to prioritise areas that you feel very strongly about — this will help you to stay motivated.
3. Detach from the end result. While your goals will be there to guide you along the way, life often has other plans. Before you set any new years’ goals or resolutions, protect your sense of self-worth by promising to be gentle with yourself if things don’t work out.
Tips for setting new years’ goals that stick
Sticking to new routines and habits can be difficult — and doubly so if you don’t have a reliable plan in place. Here are a few of our favourite tips for setting mindful goals for the new year.
- Root your goals in your identity. When setting goals and intentions for the year ahead, try not to start with the things you want to accomplish, but with the person you want to become. For instance, you don’t just want to run a half-marathon. You want to become the kind of person who loves waking up early to go for a run. Reframing your mindset can help you to identify with your goals and stay motivated whenever you encounter a roadblock.
- Group your goals into categories. For example, you might create different sets of goals for your personal and professional life, your health and your hobbies. Remember that personal goals are just as important as career milestones.
- Include self-care goals. Recognise that you need to balance out hard work by taking time for yourself on a regular basis. You can do this by prioritising activities you love and enjoy in the year ahead. Some of your self-care goals might include taking your full lunch breaks every day, challenging yourself to try something new every single month, or going to bed earlier to regulate your sleeping schedule.
- Follow the SMART goal-setting method. A tried and true favourite in the professional world, SMART is a method of goal-setting that is particularly effective for anyone who struggles to set realistic and achievable goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound goals. Going through each item in this framework will help you to set goals that are ambitious, but not removed enough from reality that they are impossible to achieve.
- Reframe traditional definitions of achievement. What your mind and body need from the new year might not fit the traditional image of success. Instead of working toward a promotion, your focus for the year ahead might be to work less and spend more time with your family or to finally regulate your sleeping schedule. Goal-setting is subjective: the point is not to please others, but to work on the objectives that would make your life more fulfilling and enjoyable.
- Prepare the fine print. When setting a long-term goal, think about the specifics. For example, if you want to train to run a half-marathon in 2021, start by deciding on the days of the week when you’d like to go for runs. Blocking time out in your schedule will make the goal feel more real and right within your grasp.
- Break your goals down into smaller goals. Starting with a a small, manageable goal is easier than facing a massive, seemingly unattainable goal. Checking off small milestones along the way to your final destination is a powerful mood-booster — not to mention, it does wonders for your productivity. This way, you’ll be far more likely to get started and keep moving forward when the going gets tough.
- Prepare to modify. If 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that our plans and goals can change in the blink of an eye. The goals you set at the start of the year might change as the year progresses. Preparing to pivot and leaving room for spontaneous changes can help you avoid disappointment later down the line. And if a goal no longer feels right, consider letting it go.
“One part at a time, one day at a time, we can accomplish any goal we set for ourselves.”– Karen Casey
Keep on moving in the right direction
When it comes to setting goals and resolutions that stick, the most important skill you can train is resilience.
It is inevitable that you will stumble and face challenge after challenge on the path to your destination. But the most important thing is to keep moving forward in the direction that's right for you.
Even the smallest steps can make a huge difference if they take you closer to the life you dream of living, and the person you wish to become.
In order to stay accountable to your goals and keep track of your progress, we recommend writing your goals down on paper. This will help you to see them as a tangible reality and map out the steps you need to take to bring them to life.
Make 2021 the year of mindful intentions with the help of a beautiful planner, notebook or guided journal. You can choose from our elegant collection of eco-friendly, sustainably made notebooks and planners to find a goal-setting system that is perfectly suited to your lifestyle.
Happy New Year! 💫