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New Year, New Approach: Shifting the Perspective on Goal-Setting

“Your life is not a template. Design it yourself. From the inside out.“

As we begin a new year, it's standard to reflect on our aspirations and set goals for the year ahead. However, this year, let's challenge the conventional wisdom of goal-setting and explore a slightly different approach—one that starts from the inside out. By embracing a growth mindset and aligning our actions with personal values and vision, we pave a path to success by creating the life we want.


Traditionally, the new year is a cue for setting ambitious goals. We often feel pressure to compile a list of resolutions, eager to achieve certain milestones. And while goals can inspire and motivate us, they can also become sources of undue pressure and stress. All too often, these well-intentioned resolutions are abandoned within a few weeks or months, leaving us defeated and discouraged. Let’s break this cycle. Instead, we can consider a different approach—one that centers around who we are on the inside and creating a life that aligns with that. Let's get started.

1. EMBRACE A SOLUTION-FOCUSED GROWTH MINDSET:

Before diving into goal-setting, it's crucial to adopt a growth solution-focused mindset. This mindset allows us to tackle challenges with resilience and see setbacks as opportunities for growth. With a growth mindset, we're open to new possibilities and willing to step out of our comfort zones. To cultivate this mindset, it's important to embrace change, view failures as learning opportunities, and consistently seek ways to improve. By focusing on solutions rather than dwelling on problems, we foster creativity, resilience, and a sense of empowerment.

2. IDENTIFY YOUR VALUES:

Understanding your core values is the cornerstone of setting impactful goals. These values are guiding principles that define what matters most to you. Take time to reflect on your values and their role in your life. This introspection ensures your goals are a true reflection of your authentic self, making them easier to stick to. Now there are many methods to do this, one starting point is to search online for a list of “Core Values”. Select the top 3-4 that resonate with you and give reasons as to why these are important to you.

3. VISUALIZE YOUR FUTURE SELF:

How do you express your values? Imagine a future where you’ve achieved your goals. Use a spider diagram (or a similar brainstorming technique) to explore what this future looks like. Consider aspects such as physical wellbeing, finances, emotions, relationships, and career. This exercise helps create a clear picture of your desired outcomes and will fuel your motivation. Pro tip: write your goals as if they’re already happening e.g. instead of I will be, write "I am".

4. OUTLINE MICRO-ACTIONS:

To live with integrity, your day-to-day actions must match your values and your vision. More often than not, when your actions don't match your values and vision, this can bring about stress, and unfulfillment, and force you to look back and think “why did I decide to do or not to do that?”. Focus on micro-actions and identify the day-to-day, or weekly actions that align with your values and vision. Micro-actions are small, incremental actions or behaviors that are easily implemented and sustainable, often taking less than five minutes to complete. No actions stand alone and thinking about the small ones can lead to significant long-term changes and improvements in various aspects of life.

5. OVERCOME OBSTACLES AND CREATE SOLUTIONS:

Anticipate and strategize for potential roadblocks. These could be external factors like certain people, environments, or habits that veer you off course. Develop strategies and solutions to overcome these challenges. For instance, if social media is a distraction, consider limiting your screen time or using website blockers during focus periods.

6. GET STARTED AND STACK:

To build momentum and create lasting change, start with three small habits that align with your values and vision. Starting small allows you to develop consistency and confidence. As these habits become ingrained in your life, you can gradually add additional actions to your routine.

7. REVIEW, REVISE, AND EXPERIENCE:

Ask yourself: Am I living in line with my values and my vision? Regularly review your progress, revise your values, vision, and habits, and recommit to that vision. Reflect on what's working well and what needs adjustment. Are the people you're around, the place you're in, the job you have, or the actions you're taking still in line with your values and vision? If not, it’s OK to let them go.

8. CELEBRATE:

Arguably the most crucial step. Celebrating our achievements activates the brain's reward system, releasing dopamine and reinforcing neural pathways. This increases motivation and creates a positive feedback loop for continued progress. Take time to celebrate your wins along the way and stay open to adapting your values and vision as you grow.

CONC:


By redirecting goal-setting from external achievements to internal alignment, with values and vision, you unlock the power to create meaningful transformations. This inside-out approach allows you to become the embodiment of the change you seek, living a life rich in purpose and fulfillment. After all, it's what you do that defines you.

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EXAMPLE #1

Values: Adventure, connection, innovation

Vision: I can converse and speak fluent French, which helps me travel and explore remote areas of Madagascar and converse with the local communities.

Micro-action: Set an alarm for 1 pm daily and spend 5 minutes on Duolingo.

Obstacle and solutions: I often feel tired around lunchtime. I can go for a short walk outside before my Duolingo lesson to get some fresh air and spark me up. Or I can move it earlier in the day when I know I have more energy.

Actions to stack on top:

  • Add 10 minutes to write out the words and phrases that I have learned.
  • Schedule a weekly call with a fluent speaker to converse and get comfortable speaking their language.

EXAMPLE #2

Values: Connection, integrity, creativity

Vision: The start of my day is a bright one. The morning with children is calm and we set our day up for success.

Micro-action: Prepping school day lunch and snacks after cleaning up from dinner. This creates more time in the morning for getting other things organized for the day ahead.

Obstacle and solutions: I get home late from work many nights and after dinner, it’s the last thing I want to do. I could ask my partner to help, I could select different snack options that are easier to prepare or prep snack bags on a Sunday in prep for the whole week.

Actions to stack on top:

  • Turn on some upbeat music, to bring about some energy.
  • Set my alarm and wake up 15 minutes earlier to have a leisurely shower.

ABOUT LOUISE:

As Head of Operations at Shadow Factory and with over 15 years of experience in personal development, Louise started Mindful Matters, a blog series that will cover topics related to personal, professional, and organizational growth, emphasizing the importance of mindfulness in our daily lives in a tech-driven world. Louise’s qualifications include Stress Management Consultancy, Neuroencoding, Relational Behavioral Therapy, Nutrition, and Strength and Conditioning.