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Haven’t yet set goals for 2017?

Set mindful goals this year.

With the new year just begun, I am sure there are many lazy ones like me who are still in the process of fixing their goals for 2017. So, when the first Lean In meetup session of 2017, taken by Bhavna Toor, co-founder of Shenomics, happened to be on Mindful Goal Setting, I was thrilled. I could use some structure in setting my goals, I thought.

Just before going for the session, I was thinking to myself, what will this session teach me about goals that I don’t already know. In my mind two things stood out that I know about goals.

  1. Short term and long-term goals.
  2. S.M.A.R.T goals.

But this was the first meetup of the year, and I really didn’t want to miss it. After all one of my resolutions is to attend as many as I can this year.

It all starts with the most important question.

Why do we set goals?

To be happy & fulfilled!

To feel fulfilled, happy and have a feeling of achievement right? But after every goal that is achieved, we find new goals to strive for and it makes a vicious cycle. Bhavna Toor took a beautiful example of a hamster wheel where even if the person seems to be running with full gusto, they aren’t making progress.

How accomplishing one goal after the other doesn’t make us happy after all!

This is where setting mindful goals comes in the picture. They prod us to reflect within ourselves to find our core values. They form the bigger picture of our lives. Once we determine the values, we set effective goals in alignment with these values. Finally we take action to fulfill our goals. Let’s look at each of these steps in detail.

The First Step : Identifying your Values

Think of the kind of the person you want to be known as when you die? Do you want to be known as kind and loving? Or do you want to be known as hard-working and determined. These are the values you stick to over the long term. The things that matter the most to you. Deep down this is what defines you year after year. When your goals are aligned with who you are, you find the maximum happiness, meaning and fulfillment when they are achieved. When your goals are aligned with your values, they are mindful goals.

Bhavna Toor helped us through the entire process by setting up activities to keep us engaged and active. The first exercise was to define our values.

These are the values which are important to my evergreen self:

a. Helping friends and family in need — Being dependable

b. Giving out love and kindness to everyone around — Because you don’t know what the other is going through.

c. Being resilient — Have grit & perseverance to pursue my dreams.

d. Being confident in my skin — through fitness, stopping the inner critic, appreciating myself more.

The Second step: Setting Effective Goals- It’s all about challenging, specific, measurable goals.

We were given a Life-wheel sheet here which spanned across career, money, health, friends/family, significant other/romance, personal growth, fun & recreation, physical environment. We were supposed to rate our present selves between 1 & 10. Then we were to chose one of these areas we would like to improve upon and set goals for them.

When setting goals for an area of your life, keep in mind to set a goal that’s challenging. If the goal doesn’t excite you, make it exciting. Also keep a specific and measurable goal.

I had a specific & measurable goal : Losing 5 kgs. This goal was in line with my value of being confident about myself.

Going to the gym, doesn’t excite me. So I am going to spice it up by dancing. Well, that’s an exciting goal.

The Last Step: Ensuring Success with your goals- Actions

a.Think of the smallest action you can comfortably do

celebrate small victories and use the enthusiasm to propel yourself forward!

Think of the smallest action you can take towards your goal and do it. Make it so small and easy, it’s difficult to ignore. The idea is to not overwhelm yourself at the get go but instill self-belief (that you can do it) through smaller wins and then move through bigger actions to achieve the goal in entirety.

b. Change your identity

Believe in your future self!

We hurt ourselves through self-limiting identities. We need to change our identity slowly and steadily through smaller actions. Change the perception we have of ourselves. Every time your mind says, “ Oh, you can’t do that because….” just override it. Talk to your mind, say you can do it.

Believe, you make healthy choices and are into fitness. Believe, you are an awesome software engineer.

c. Turn that action into a habit.

“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.”

Aristotle

To put this step in practice: My smallest action will be to do 30 mins of exercise in any form: dancing, skipping, walking, running, swimming each day. I already have a menu planner that will help me monitor what I am eating, and make sure it’s healthy. I will strive to make this into a habit.

Finally: Dream big & Visualize your dreams coming true!

lol, that’s some visualization!

We need to dream big. There is great power in visualization. Visualize yourself doing what you aim for and you’ll be surprised when in a few years it actually happens.

Looking back I think, there was so much to learn about goal-setting. You may know a few things but refreshing them and getting a fresh perspective never fails to inspire.

“Don’t be afraid to take advice. There’s always something new to learn.”

Babe Ruth

About Bangalore based Lean In Support group

Every month, this group of self-motivated women find 2 hours on a Saturday afternoon and meet up over beer and samosa to share their experiences and learn from each other. It’s a highly energetic and inspiring community which stands for the support women can be for each other. Feel free to Join us. You may find a support group in your city as well.

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