I used to hate the end of the year, I had a sense of dread, disappointment and deep feelings of inadequacy. Feeling like I hadn’t achieved much whilst everyone on the internet shared their wins. And here I am on NYE writing why I love new year new me.
Part of the dread was that I struggled to have the perspective of what I had achieved over the year and also dreaded another year of not achieving goals. The two together meant I HATED goal setting, it got me into a sulk and I hated the process of it. Everytime I was confronted with having to set goals I would recoil, feel inadequate and want to give up just at the thought of it.
Sound familiar? Well if that is you, or if you are just someone who is trying to get to grips with goal setting here is a starter guide. I set myself a mission in 2019 that I would become obsessed with goal setting and love it. Here I am at 12:30 am planning my goals for 2020 and it dawned on me that I had achieved one of my biggest goals of 2019 and that was to fall in love with goal setting, so the millennial in me opened up a google doc to share it with you too.
I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed by this article so please do remember all of what I have put below were done over a year (if not more), not in a week before Jan 2020 started! The aim for me was to fall in love and gain a new skill, because it is a skill and that takes time.
If I can go from recoiling in fear at the idea of goal setting, to loving it, you can to.
The first thing I listened to that really helped me is the audiobook called The Art of Exceptional Living by Jim Rohn. It takes some time to get past his enthusiastic motivational speaker style, but once you get past that, there are some real gems in there.
Rohn’s philosophy is that “You don’t have to be a super-achiever. You don’t have to be unusually creative. You don’t have to endure great obstacles. You don’t have to do exceptional things at all. Just do ordinary things exceptionally well.”
This is also something I have truly believed and seen with my own eyes here at Amaliah, in that we aren’t extraordinary but we have achieved a great deal by just doing the mundane and boring things day in and day out to get to those breakthroughs.
There were two key things I took away from this book:
The first is how to think about goal setting, there is a chapter (maybe chapter 10) that is all about how to set goals with a guided exercise. Persevere with this, revisit it, take time with it.
The second thing, as simple as it sounds is, happiness is not an accident. Getting into a good place is not an accident, it is a considered effort, this changed things for me. Realising that I had to swing the dial when I felt like I was approaching a hole. I couldn’t just wait for the air to change, I had to study what got me into a good place and get myself there.
If you aren’t in a good place, it’s time to make a get into a good place plan. But to know what gets you into a good place is also a process of understanding who you are and what fills your cup both in big and small ways. That’s where I brought in journalling.
“Document the moments you feel most in love with yourself – what you’re wearing, who you’re around, what you’re doing. Recreate and repeat.”
― Warsan Shire
One of the things I adopted in September is journalling, in particular, I wrote the days I felt good, energised and positive. I documented what it was that made me feel good.
The key for me to stick at journalling was to have a small enough journal that I could carry everywhere. I love these Muji passport books and I’m on my second one!
For example, I wrote that I felt energised after meeting a few interesting people for coffee over a week and it made me realised that connecting with people regularly is important to me and filling my cup. I like to soundboard and discuss ideas and it is something that uplifts my soul.
The next part of this is journaling when you don’t feel so good so you can find the patterns and also understand what are the things that get you there and then also use the former to understand what gets you on track. Is it when you dress well? Is it when you go for a run? Is it when you see a friend?
Manifesting has been all the rage and my biggest thing has been feeling like it is void of God’s greatness. I set myself 3 clear things I want to develop by the will of Allah and said them to myself every day.
I will increase my X, get Y and Z inshaAllah. I found keeping these at the forefront of my mind meant that I was also more likely to do the work to reach them because they were in front of mind. For example, one of my goals was to increase my network and while I enjoy meeting people, I am also naturally an indoor home hermit. However, when an opportunity presented itself I would go back to the manifestations of my goals and think about if this helps me get to it and I really found my network growing from pushing myself that little bit. They opened me up more to the opportunities that would make these goals happen.
I visualise how much I want to see in my bank account, me taking part in a taekwondo competition and me doing other things I want to achieve. One of the reasons I wasn’t achieving my goals were because they weren’t front and centre of my mind, journalling, writing down my specific goals, both short and long term, and reading them often, are a great way to do so. It is also important to regularly visit goals as they may change! Some may no longer be important or take different priorities. I was writing them down and then putting them away and expecting them to happen without following up with specific actions.
The power of visualisation and manifestation was really reinforced when I heard Bernardine Evaristo speak at a gal dem event earlier this year. It was on the day she had also won the Booker Prize and she spoke about how 20 years ago she had introduced it to herself as a goal. She had visualised and manifested it to the point where she just knew it had to happen. I’m not an expert and there are probably lots of other bits on the internet that can help you with visualisation and manifestation so I will leave it at that!
While 3 and 4 are important, you need to do the work. There were a number of reasons why I hated goal setting, in part because I would write them, but not believe I would achieve them. I also not document wins and crucially I didn’t make a specific plan or truly understand how to get there. So I was just left with a page of ideas that had no plan and were left to chance, okay qadr. Qadr with no effort or intention. A big game-changer for me was understanding that it was HABITS that create goals, not writing goals. If you carry on the habit and forget the goal, you will still have a high chance of achieving the goal.
For example, in 2018 I wanted to get fit and I end 2019 having accomplished that goal with the following plan:
This is something I only started in November 2019 after Sara in our team went to a Pinterest vision boarding workshop, so I can’t vouch for it yet but I have been using it.
Firstly I wrote some intentions under various categories, these are categories that are important to you e.g. Family and Friends, Career, Business, Financial Wellness, Health and Wellbeing, Faith and Spirituality. They can be whatever you want.
And then I pinned things that were relevant to these.
Some of the things I pinned in order from the left to right:
The key to making this work is to visit it regularly, again keeping your goals front and center, I have reminders in my calendar to dip into it and also keep it constantly open in a tab. Every time I visit it I do a pinning spree where I add more things that are related to these specific goals, or I action one of the pins.
Taking the various categories from the Pinterest vision board as well as the previous exercises, I then thought about what are the most important goals for me, then thought about why they were important, what habits need to be developed in order to attain them and then finally how I will know I have achieved them. A big factor in ending the year and feeling crap was not being clear on what it looked like to achieve a goal as I hadn’t defined it. Sometimes I had achieved a goal but didn’t even realise. This is also why journaling has been really important as it made me more mindful of small achievements and moments that I am grateful for to then look back at. I am able to think of each month of 2019 and recall something I achieved or something I am grateful for. Achievements can also be things like, I made time to see my friends regularly, they can be anything you want.
The next thing I did was set up my ideal week. I drew out almost a timetable of what does an ideal week look like where I am working towards this goal, putting in the habits. E.g. to achieve my fitness goals it looks like working out on Monday, Thursday and Friday. To achieve my book deal goals it looks like writing and working on my manuscript every Saturday.
The ideal week is also important as it helps to get back on track. If you don’t define what ideal or successful week looks like then it will be hard to get back on track.
Some of the quesstions to ask is how do you currently spend your time and what do you want to spend more time on? I also added
up how many hours I was spending on each area of my life and compared them to what my goals are or what is important to me.
It made me realise where there was a shortfall and what I was prioritising.
For example, I am spending 9+ hours on health and fitness from working out to cooking healthy meals. However I am currently dedicating zero scheduled hours to nurture my spirituality or faith development. So what’s really important to me and how do I now plan to take that zero hours to two hours at least? Looking at things in terms of hours spent a week puts into perspective if there is a disconnect between what is important to you vs. What you spend your time on.
And that’s that, there are 8 things I did to help me fall in love with goal setting, I hope they help you too!