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Goal setting

It’s always surprising how fast the month goes by. January is over, and with the turn toward February, perhaps you have mixed feelings about your performance on mile one.

Our culture certainly promotes the New Year, new you mentality, but the calendar may not be the ideal guide for goal setting.

Our goals are often created in response to bursts of inspiration (e.g. a new year), frustration with ourselves, trends online, or what seems most urgent.

An alternate approach to goal setting is starting with something deeper—a vision.

A vision is an imagined future from your hopeful mind and heart. It may be in one area of your life (family, finances, health, etc.) or your life overall.

A vision is more personalized, enduring, and life-giving than the temporal pressures of a new year, and from it, we can set goals that keep us steady and aligned with what matters most to us long-term.

Below are three steps to help your vision take the place of January in setting goals toward true fulfillment, meaning, and purpose.

1) Start with your imagination. Before allowing yourself to extinguish your vision by doubt and uncertainty, grant yourself permission to imagine a future you truly want. It may seem extravagant and a little indulgent, but it will help you set the compass in a motivating direction.

2) Jot it down. There is something helpful about allowing your ideas to flow onto paper. You can start with a rough draft, and over time add to, edit, and refine your vision as it becomes more clarified.

3) Cultivate the habit of allowing your vision to inform your goal setting. Goals guided by our vision are much more uplifting than goals instigated by guilt, pressure, or culture.

Focus and purpose flow naturally from connecting our vision and goals. And they are just as relevant on February 1 as they were on New Year’s Day.

By Daryn Thompson, Master’s Level Counseling Intern