When you create goals for the new year, it can be a little tricky. It’s really easy to come up with a whole list of things you want to accomplish, only to come to the end of the year and see that many of them have been unmet.
I’ve done it so many times. It is the worst feeling. And, it’s one way to seriously erode trust in myself.
So over the years I’ve found some good tools to create much more meaningful goals. Goals that feel right and that don’t create a set up for failure and disappointment before I even get started.
Here are my favorite tools for new year goal setting:
3 Tools to Create Soulful Feel-Good Goals for the New Year
1. Define Your Core Desired Feelings
One of the best tools I added to my goal setting practice a few years back was defining my core desired feelings. This comes from Danielle LaPorte’s book The Desire Map. It is a methodology based on the idea that we want what we want because of how we think getting that thing is going to make us feel. If we can zero in on how we want to feel, we can create goals at a deeper level.
I start by brainstorming how I want to feel. I let this be free flowing with no judgment. At this beginning point, I typically come up with a pretty long list of desired feelings.
Next, I will look at specific life areas of my life to make sure I have a well-rounded list. Here are the major areas to ponder. You may have even more to add to this:
- relationships (family, friends, significant other)
- spirituality & growth
- health & fitness
- physical surroundings (home, city/town)
Last, I go over my list it a few times and narrow down. For similar words, I’ll choose the best one and cross out the others. Then I’ll choose my top five or six — the feelings that I’m really after.
I’ve found that working from my desired feelings helps me create goals that are much more in alignment with what I want at a deeper level.
Knowing my desire feelings also help me to keep an open mind and give me the freedom to shift my goals if I need to.
2. Choose a Word of the Year
This is probably my favorite tool for goal setting. Choosing one overarching word for the year ahead brings me such clarity and focus.
My experience of choosing a word has changed over the years. Some years I’ve found the impact of the word I pick is more profound than others. “Love” was my word several years back but it didn’t turn out to have a big impact. But “trust” was my word for 2015 and it’s still on my mind and affecting my life today. I think this practice gets better for me as the years go on and I get better at choosing words that really resonate.
Christine Kane created a great tool that walks you through the process of choosing your word for the year. If you’ve never done this before I highly recommend checking it out. Click here to download.
From a high level, I start by brainstorming possible words. I look at my list of core desired feelings and see if there are any themes. I also think about my biggest goal for the year (see below) and consider how I need to show up to really make it happen.
I also ask myself questions like…
If I fully embrace this word, what would that mean? What would shift?
What does this word mean for my daily life?
3. Declare “One Thing” for the Year
This is a new tool I’m adding this year. The idea comes from the book The One Thing by Gary Keller and Jay Papasan, one of my favorite books of this year.
Here’s the question to ask yourself to figure out your one thing:
What’s the ONE Thing I can do this year such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?
Your one thing is different from your word because your one thing is a goal. It is the one goal that above all others you are choosing to focus specifically on.
How do you decide what one thing to pick for the new year? It is the goal that if reached, will likely wipe out many goals on your list at once. Making that one thing happen will have a domino effect. It’s the linchpin for several others.
Here’s one other useful practice: once you have your goals listed out for the year, for each one ask yourself: why do I want this? See if your answer points back to how you want to feel. If the reason doesn’t feel compelling, you may want to rethink it. I find that deliberately choose not to go after something is just as powerful as choosing to.
Declaring what you want to create for the coming year is a powerful practice. And it always helps to remember that no year will ever be perfect — some goals and intentions will fall flat despite our best efforts. But I find that creating meaningful goals by deciding how I want to feel and intentionally choosing words and themes to guide me, makes all the difference.