At the beginning of a new year or time of transition, it’s tempting to jump into a “new year, new you” mindset.
But setting lofty goals without follow through can be more stress than it’s worth … and how do you even begin to set a goal anyway?
It’s important to get into the right mindset of setting goals before embarking on an exploration of who you are and who you want to be.
We’re breaking down a few simple steps to think through what goals you want to achieve in order to knock them out of the park!
Reflect on what you want to achieve and why
Before jumping all in and going after the first goal that comes to mind, it’s important to think about why you want to achieve a certain goal.
For instance, in the new year many people set out to lose weight. But without a clear reason why that is, you may eventually lose steam after a few weeks. The end goal may be to lose weight, but the reason why could be a number of different things: perhaps you want to start playing a beloved sport again, or get into hiking, or be able to keep up with your children without feeling winded.
Whatever your reason why, it has to come from the heart and be impactful enough to get you out of bed on cold mornings, or meal prep on Sundays when all you want to do is rest read.
Get introspective: read, write, and listen
So about that “why” though–sometimes you just feel stuck and don’t even know how to establish your why. That’s okay! It’s normal to feel overwhelmed by options as you look to make drastic “new year, new you” shifts.
If you’re feeling a lack of inspiration, get introspective. Look and observe the world around you to see what strikes your curiosity most.
Try going to a bookstore and picking out a book or magazine you’d never in a million years buy, just to get completely out of your comfort zone. Never gardened before? Buy a gardening magazine! Love horses but have never taken a riding lesson? There’s an equine-lovers magazine out there for you to learn about horses, guaranteed!
If listening is more your thing, try a podcast on a topic you’ve never considered learning more about. Or, a podcast with an upbeat point of view to get you feeling like you can conquer anything you set out to achieve.
Getting out of your comfort zone can do wonders in stoking your curiosity. It’s never too late to learn something new!
Talk it out
If you still aren’t sure how to create new year goals after reflecting on your why and getting introspective, don’t be shy! Find a close confidant, like a parent, sibling, or friend, who can be an ear to listen to you. Share the research you’ve done on setting goals, then turn the tables back on them and ask questions like,
What do you consider me an expert in and come to me for advice on?
Is there any hobby or activity you’ve always pictured me doing, but I’ve never done?
What are your hopes and dreams for me to achieve in 1 year? 5 years?
Just hearing validation from others on how awesome you are and how much they believe in you can help reinforce the voice in your head. If there are feelings of self-doubt, talking them out with someone who believes in you can help squash imposter syndrome.
If you don’t feel like there’s a friend or family member you want to confide in, that’s understandable! There’s a lot of vulnerability involved in asking deep questions to our loved ones. In that case, there are online resources to help you work through that feeling of being “stuck.” BetterHelp, TalkSpace, and Ginger are all affordable resources with licensed therapists to connect with virtually.
Make a vision board (live or digital!)
After allll of that deep thinking and mindset work, you may be ready to set your new year, new you goals, and that’s great!
If you’re not feeling jazzed about writing them down, a vision board may be for you. A vision board is a visual representation of your goals, usually in a poster-sized format that you hang up in a place you see everyday (like on your bedroom wall).
Here are a couple of common vision board items:
Travel: if one of your goals is to travel more in the new year, find a photo of a place you’d really love to go, cut it out, and put it on the vision board!
Nutrition and Fitness: If one of your goals is to eat more whole foods or work out, a vision board is a great place to bring that goal to life visually. Cut out pictures of nutritious food to help keep you motivated, and a favorite workout, like yoga, to remind you to squeeze that workout in every day.
Need beautiful, healthy pictures of your favorite foods to feature on your vision board? The recipe section of the Proper Good website not only has easy, delicious recipes, but appetizing pictures of those healthy foods, too! Feel free to print out your favorites or pin them to your Pinterest board to try later. And for those cold days in the new year when you need healthy meals delivered to your door, check out the Proper Good shop for nutritious soups, stews, and oatmeals.
If a physical vision board is not possible due to time or budget constraints, you can make a digital version! Websites like Pinterest allow you to make virtual “boards,” and this is a free and fun way to get creative! The internet is at your fingertips, so you can “cut and clip” any image to represent your goals!
Form healthy habits
It’s surprising how effective creating small habits can be! They really add up, and author James Clear talks about how small changes will transform your habits and deliver remarkable results!
As it relates to your “new year, new you” goals, small changes can help cement strong habits into your daily routine. And, a big part of setting up strong habits is your environment! For example, if you are looking to cut down on road rage, create a clean, serene car environment to keep you calm while driving. If your goal is to eat more nutritious, wholesome foods, simply get rid of the junk food in your home! Out of sight, out of mind–before you know it, those sugar cravings will be kicked to the curb. ;)
Pivot, pivot, pivot!
It’s okay if you set goals and decide later on that they’re no longer serving you! The whole point of a goal is to improve your life, not add more stress to it.
In those moments where you realize you’re no longer aligned to a goal, simply let it go. But first, reflect on why you set the goal in the first place, and what you may have learned along the way. That way, when the time comes to set goals again, you have a better idea of what worked and what hasn’t in the past … which will help set you up for success in the future!
Goal setting: 101–sometimes even the simplest task, like setting goals for yourself, can feel monumental. But with a little time, patience, and reflection, goal setting can be motivating and fun!