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setting effective goals and intentions

Setting effective goals and intentions for a happy new year

Happy 2020! Let’s not debate whether or not this a new decade or not, shall we? Instead, let’s rather kick off the year by being mindful of how last year went by setting effective goals and intentions.

Looking back at 2019

Whether we like it or not, this time of year always sees our mind wandering to thoughts of how last year went, what we learnt, and what we want to scribble down in our burn book and forget forever.

If you’re keen on giving this more than just a cursory backwards glance, I highly recommend following The Blissful Mind‘s journal prompts for self-reflection.

If that sounds like too much for you to handle, try sitting in a quiet, safe place with your favourite warm drink, a notepad, and perhaps some music. Let your mind wander. You might find it useful to jot down some highlights and lowlights to get things started. Throughout this exercise, really focus in on the emotions can come to the fore.

  • Is this a positive emotion?
  • Do I want to feel more like this in 2020?
  • Or is this something that I want to avoid?
  • How do I avoid it?
  • What habits can I put in place to set myself up for success?

Another option is to take some time to establish your word for the year. It’s a great way to look back at areas of your life that need attention, in order to know what to really focus on for the year ahead.

My year in review

For me, the year 2019 was interesting, and very clearly divided up into 2 halves: before pregnancy, and after pregnancy.

Let’s start with before pregnancy. I focused a lot of my energy on physical wellbeing, signing up with a dietician, and attending adult ballet classes. I felt strong and healthy, lost weight, and staved off illness for most of the year. When you physically feel that way, it also impacts other areas of your life, and I definitely noticed this. I made new friends, worked harder, kept the house cleaner, and was more resilient. In short: excellent stuff.

Then towards the end of July, I fell pregnant. It was a planned pregnancy and we’re really excited about this massive change in our lives, but I’d be lying if I said it was an easy transition. Physically it has been a very easy pregnancy compared to what most women experience, but no one really quite prepares you for the rollercoaster of thoughts, hormones, and life changes that hit the moment you see that line on a pregnancy test. It truly is something you can’t explain until you go through it.

Since then, life has definitely slowed down. Ballet is now on the backburner. I now enjoy dog walking. And the sweet little baby I’m growing now determines my nutrition. It’s been quite a challenge to adjust my own expectations of what I can get done in a day, too. And forgiving myself for having a messy kitchen or being late for work has been quite the learning curve.

2020 Vision

2020 definitely promises to be a year for the books for me. Becoming a mother is pretty much the only thing on my to-do list, and for a simple reason. I just don’t know how it’s all going to go. Planning my year and setting a long list of targets seems like a recipe for disaster. I’d hate to be in the midst of the infamous fourth trimester and also be beating myself up for not following my meticulous plan. It’s going to be a take it as it comes kinda year.

Whether you have a big life change ahead, or simply want to continue on your life path without too much fuss, I urge you to do the same. See, in January, we get this urge to create goals for ourselves – things to achieve, tick off our list, post on social media. But here’s the kicker. Achieving a goal won’t make you happy. You’ll be happy for a short while and then feel that empty feeling again. Of loss, of lacking, of not amounting to enough.

Goals vs Intentions

Instead of making a list of goals, try focusing on intentions and habits. Intentions are how you plan to craft your life, and habits are how you plan to manifest who you are. For example:

  • Goal: Run a marathon
  • Intention: To be active in ways that bring me joy
  • Habit: Physical activity at least 3 times per week

If you set the goal of running a marathon and achieve it, you’ll be really proud of yourself, but then start to wonder “what next?” within a couple of weeks. But with the intention of being active in ways that bring you joy, this can take on various forms, can grow and change with the year and your abilities, and will not culminate in something you can tick off a list. Lastly, creating concrete habits that support your intentions will mean that success is more realistic.

Do you know the saying about the road to hell being paved by good intentions? If you don’t structure your life effectively, this is guaranteed. And while habits might seem like a buzzkill, they are the difference between someone who used to be an avid baker and someone who gets weekly joy over sharing their delicious creations with family and friends.

My intentions for 2020

After reflecting on 2019, here are some intentions I’d like to live by this year. You’ll see I’ve also paired them up with habits to support them:

  • I intend to focus more on my home environment, by planning my days, weeks, and months on a regular basis.
  • I plan on living more in the present in order to remain calm and grounded, by meditating and journaling.
  • I will make food choices that support my health and my baby, by viewing sugar as a treat and vegetables as necessary.
  • I plan to practice self-compassion, by being mindful of my thoughts and critical of their accuracy.
  • I will endeavour to nurture relationships that are important to me, by scheduling in face time during my weekly planning.
  • I intend to keep personal finances on my daily radar, by using 22Seven and partaking in monthly budgeting sessions.
  • I plan to make more space for hobbies, by focusing on activities that can be enjoyed alongside a newborn.

Have you mapped out your goals and intentions for the year ahead? It’s not too late to give it some thought.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Pinkerjen - How to stay motivated: the key to sustained success – Pinkerjen

    […] you’ve set your intentions for the year, made some plans, and dusted off your self-care cobwebs. The tricky part now is […]

    22 January 2020 at 09:30
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