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If you’ve been setting resolutions and goals that you don’t achieve or leave you feeling empty and wanting more when you reach them, it’s time to stop. If you think this year will be any different, it won’t. It’s time to throw them out.
90% of New Year’s resolutions are not achieved. Worse, 92% of goals and plans are never achieved.
Why are you still doing this? And what should you do instead?
Resolutions And Goals
New Year is set up as the time to reflect on the past year, look ahead and set some new goals for what you want to achieve and create. For a lot of us, it creates frustration and highlights what we didn’t achieve the last year.
Let’s consider what exactly you’re doing when you set goals and resolutions.
Traditional goal setting is a linear process where you define an external outcome or destination you want to create, and then take specific action and steps to get there.
You can reflect and set goals across all areas of life – your health, mindset and education, relationships, work, finances, travel, hobbies, spirituality…
Companies know this. They know that a large percentage of the population is setting new resolutions and goals, and they play to that. They have deals and sales and offers to help pull you in.
People join the gym and go five times before it becomes too much of a hassle. We keep telling ourselves that we’ll go back eventually and keep paying for a membership we’ll never use in the meantime.
We create a budget, set an exercise or eating plan, join a dating website or app, enthusiastic and committed until we’re not.
We set these lofty goals and start with the greatest of intentions, but over time, and it’s not usually very long, we fall back into old habits. Then beat ourselves up for failing, or spending another year without change.
Why Goals And Resolutions Don’t Work
Why do we so often fail to meet our resolutions or goals? Or, if you do reach them, why can you feel so empty when you get there?
There are three reasons resolutions and goals don’t work…
01 | Not Enough
The whole concept of resolutions and goals suggests some need to change yourself.
The message is to put the past behind us and become something else. You need to reinvent yourself and become someone different or better.
When you set goals and resolutions you are telling yourself:
- You are not good, thin, happy, or attractive enough.
- You are flawed, need fixing or changing and to be different.
- Where you are and what you have in life are not enough.
- You are not satisfied with what you have or who you are.
When we fail to meet our goals, we tell ourselves yet again we are not enough. We have failed.
We tell ourselves we need fixing and to be different and are dissatisfied with where we are.
You set yet another goal to change yourself, your body, your life…
02 | An Outdated Version of You
The second reason goals fail is that people plan for their current reality.
Instead of thinking about what you want, that might be very different to where you are, you think about how to get out of where you are.
You base where to go and what you can achieve on the past, and who and where you are now.
But you’re not the same person now that you were a year ago, or ten years ago. You won’t be the same person a month or a year from now. Your life won’t look the same a month or year from now. You don’t know what is going to happen that is out of your control.
Goals become a process of force, obligation and control. It is a process of setting a destination and defining the steps to get there at a certain time and place. This process ignores:
- How you feel physically, emotionally and energetically – you force yourself to push through when your body tells you otherwise and beat yourself up when you don’t.
- Intuitive guidance from your higher self to go in a different direction that might serve you better.
- New information and experience might inform you to change your mind or move in a different direction.
- What you want.
Examples Of Old Goals
Here’s my own experience of setting goals in this old way…
You might make a commitment to study or do a degree and when you are halfway through realising it is not what you expected and you don’t love it. You force yourself to keep going and finish because you set a goal, you committed, you’ve invested so much time, energy and money already and you’ll be a failure if you don’t finish. Often, likely, someone or something external is also telling you these things and preventing you from connecting to your inner compass to move in a different direction.
You hate the study, and then at the end, feel obligated to set another goal to get a job in that field, because you’ve now invested even more time, energy and money, and would be an even bigger failure if you stop now.
You might set a goal to lose weight, so you can feel better or attract a partner. You join a gym, force your body to get up at 5 am, do exercise it hates, and deprive it of certain foods in favour of lettuce and juice fasts. If you were to do this to another person it would be considered deprivation, punishment, and even abuse. We call it commitment and discipline and beat ourselves up when our body resists and we fail to meet the goal.
The thing is, you have to take these initial steps towards what you think you want, to find out it is not what you want, and change to a different direction.
You are not told you can try something and test it out, de-commit, change your mind, do something different that works for you, and be okay with who and where you are.
Goal setting is mostly created by the ego in an attempt to feel safe in a society that values the external, material realm of things, money, status, achievement and stuff. It often comes from a place of fear. Society, the media, the education system, and those in positions of authority tell us from an early age:
- If you are not thin or pretty enough you will not be liked or loved. You will not find a partner and will end up alone.
- If you do not study and get a degree you will not have a good job or earn enough money for a successful life.
- If you do not get an accepted career such as accounting, engineering or law and follow your passion as a dancer or artist you will be unemployable, poor and therefore unhappy.
Goals are based on the premise that… when you get, X, Y or Z… you will be or feel… something different to what you are…
You are not told there is a choice or alternative to this life path and measures of success. Or that you can feel how you want to feel and be who you are now.
The idea of a New Year, a new you, goals and resolutions to change move you further away from your true self and the inner compass that is guiding you.
You need a bigger intention with way more flexibility.
What To Do Instead Of Goals
We all have different and unique reasons for being here. This is not to force yourself to comply and fit into the system.
Instead of looking at what you don’t have, what you have not achieved and who you are not…and setting a goal or resolution to change who and where you are.
Give yourself permission to live authentically.
Commit to creating more time and space for yourself. Get to know who you are and start to connect and respond to your soul, intuition and inner guidance.
Set a primary goal or resolution to be the most authentic version of who you are right now.
Focus on the inside and your internal realm, rather than trying to find fulfilment from the external, physical realm of things and status and stuff.
You are not here to keep reinventing yourself and turning into something different. You are here to express the essence of who you are.
When you connect to your internal guides and begin to follow your higher self and your soul, rather than chase the external you will be shown the signs and the next step to take you where you need to go.
Soul Goal Setting Framework
There is a simple framework for setting goals with soul that you can use in any area of life to help connect to your inner guidance and authentic self.
01 | What do you want?
A lot of people say they don’t know what they want. But when you start to dig down, there are certain things you want to experience in this lifetime, across many areas of life.
The first step is to brainstorm what you want across one or more of the twelve areas of life. These include physical, mental, relationships, finances, vocation or work and spirituality.
Ideally, you want to narrow it down to one high-level intention in each area of life.
For now, you could pick three. What are the three biggest things, that if you had them, and they were all you could achieve, you would be living your ideal life? This could include things like:
- To work in a business of my own earning a minimum $100,000 a year
- To be in a loving, committed and aware relationship
- To have a healthy, energized and fit body.
These can change over time. You’re not committing for the rest of your life. But they are things that you can aspire towards for now. I have had the same high-level intentions for two or three years now, and I tweak them slightly as I go.
Note that you are not considering how or when you will get there. And there is no specific detail. This leaves it completely open for how and when these things will appear in your life.
02 | How will you feel when you achieve this?
Ultimately, we are not chasing goals for the outcome or thing itself but for the feeling or emotion, we experience when we reach or achieve it.
So, for each of your high-level goals, how will you feel when you reach them?
What are the emotions you expect to experience when you achieve these goals?
03 | What makes you feel like this now?
Consider when you feel this emotion and how you can feel it now?
Why do we do this?
The more you feel a particular way, the more your body starts to recognise this feeling and hold it energetically. Like attracts like, and as you hold a feeling or emotion more, you will begin to attract more things that make you feel like this.
So, if ultimately you want to feel a certain way, the more you feel that in your current reality, the more you will attract things that align with that emotion.
The more you will be intuitively guided towards
04 | What action can you take now?
There are two types of actions you can take now:
- Action towards your higher intentions and what you want.
- Actions that make you feel the way you want to feel – now.
For each of your highest intentions, list 2-3 actions to move you towards your desired goal that feels good, AND 2-3 actions to create your desired feeling or emotion now.
Consider the little things you can do every day to move closer towards your overall intention.
05 | Track and measure
Find ways to track your progress in terms of:
- What works and what does not work?
- What to keep and what to change?
- What feels good and what doesn’t feel good?
But don’t use tracking as a way to berate and punish yourself. You want to find the things that feel good and work for you to help move you forward and evolve.
And, as you go, be open and flexible to things that present themselves to you to show you where to go and how to get there. The people you meet, the article that drops into your inbox, and the invitation to a social event.
The things that come easily are gifts from you. They are your higher self and your soul showing you the way.
Let me know in the comments if you have any questions about this process.
Even if it feels like things go backwards, don’t go to plan or you don’t achieve what you set out to, know that everything is perfect.
You are here for a lifetime, not a year or a goal. You can always find something you’ve learned and how you’ve grown, even in failure or misdirection.
There will be a time when you realise you of now, is just one version of you on a lifelong journey.
Slow down, find patience and flexibility and commit to being more of your true self.
Keep hold of your overall intention, but stay in the present. Set the intention to live authentically and learn to enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
The choice is yours…