July 10, 2024

Fearless Goals: Crafting Resolutions That Stick

By Amie Bilson
Mental Health & Wellbeing

Like many, I once viewed goal setting as a path paved with good intentions that led to the valley of unmet expectations. The annual ritual of New Year’s resolutions was a reminder of aspirations unachieved and the self-reproach that followed. This cycle of anticipation and disappointment sapped my motivation, leaving me to focus on the immediate tasks at hand—tasks that, while completed, didn’t seem to contribute to a larger purpose.

Despite these accomplishments, I struggled to acknowledge them without the framework of defined goals. It was as if I was navigating without a compass; I was moving, but without direction toward what truly mattered to me. The most pressing tasks always shouted the loudest for attention, yet they often didn’t align with my deeper values. I came to realize that life is replete with worthy endeavors, but without intention, I could miss the chance to pursue what was truly significant to me.

Through introspection and experience, my perspective on goal setting has transformed. I no longer see it as a burden, but as an opportunity for growth and fulfillment. I invite you to join me in this journey of discovery, where setting goals is not a source of anxiety but a step towards realizing our deepest aspirations. Here are three mindset shifts and two tools that will help decrease anxiety and increase joy in the process.

Shifting the Mindset Around Goals

The weight of setting goals can be daunting, and I recognize the reluctance many feel towards this practice. That’s why I’m sharing insights that have lightened my own burden, replacing guilt with success, and apprehension with joy. Let’s explore the possibility of setting goals that inspire rather than intimidate.

Redefining Success

The societal pressures to excel, coupled with our own critical inner voices, can create a paralyzing fear of goal setting. Thoughts like, “Why start if I can’t do it perfectly?” or, “This goal is too insignificant to matter,” often downsize our dreams and hinder our progress. Yet, embracing a new definition of success—one that honors any degree of progress—can disarm these negative beliefs. It’s about appreciating the journey: “I may not do it perfectly, but I’ll learn and improve along the way.” A small goal is a stepping stone to greater achievements. Remember, inaction is the real failure; success is taking even the smallest step towards your aspirations.

Viewing Unmet Goals as Learning Opportunities, Not Personal Failures

Goals are deeply personal, and not meeting them can feel like a reflection of our worth. If you’ve ever thought, “I am weak,” “I am worthless,” or “I am hopeless” when falling short of a goal, it’s time to shift your perspective. Let goals serve as a source of insight, not a judgment of your character. Each unmet goal is a lesson that reveals the barriers to your success, providing valuable information to refine your approach. By treating goals as informative rather than definitive of your identity, you’ll move forward with more confidence and less self-reproach.

The Flexibility of Goals: Adjustments are Part of the Process

It’s perfectly normal to adjust your goals. Sometimes, we set out with an objective only to realize that we’ve underestimated the challenges or overestimated our resources. When you encounter such situations, remember that it’s not a sign of failure but an opportunity to recalibrate. Adjusting your goals to better align with the SMART criteria ensures continued progress rather than clinging to an unrealistic target. Adopting a mindset that welcomes goal modification will keep you on the path to achievement, allowing you to accomplish more by being adaptable rather than rigid.

Woman sitting at desk excitedly jotting down her goals and plans to accomplish them.

Goal Setting Tools

Tool #1: SMART Goals Reimagined

The SMART framework is a well-known method for crafting clear and attainable goals. It stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Consider the goal, “I will read the two new books I received for my birthday this month.” It’s precise, quantifiable, within my reading capabilities, fits into my current schedule, and has a clear deadline.

However, the fear of failure can lead us to set nebulous goals, which are like shadows—intangible and elusive. Vague goals leave us uncertain about our progress, success, or the need for adjustments. By defining a SMART goal, we create a filter for our decisions, helping us to focus on what’s truly important.

For example, if connecting with family is a priority, I might allocate funds for a holiday visit rather than an impulsive purchase. On a daily scale, I might choose to complete a cherished art project over routine chores. It’s about aligning our actions with our values, one SMART goal at a time.

Tool #2: The After Action Review (AAR) Simplified

The AAR is a straightforward yet powerful tool that guides you through a reflective process with three key questions:

  1. What was your goal?
  2. What did you achieve?
  3. What factors contributed to the difference between your goal and your achievement?

Utilizing the AAR during or at the conclusion of your goal’s timeline allows for proactive adjustments and learning. It’s a strategy to maintain momentum and prevent the stagnation that comes from unmet expectations. For instance, if a goal seems out of reach, a minor tweak—like extending the deadline or scaling down the scope—can reignite your drive and belief in success. The AAR isn’t just about assessment; it’s about empowerment and informed future endeavors.

Goal Setting as a Path to Well-being

The journey of setting and pursuing goals need not be a daunting odyssey. It can be an enriching experience that fosters a sense of accomplishment and happiness. These positive feelings are cornerstones of mental well-being and are essential for everyone.

If the thought of goal setting is overwhelming, remember that you’re not alone. Our team is here to support you. Reach out to us, and let’s navigate the path to your goals together, transforming aspiration into achievement.

Written By

Amie Bilson

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