Organizing your mind is just as important as organizing your home. By setting aside an hour to download and let go of all the “I should’s” that live in our brains, we eliminate mental clutter and create space for future possibility. Goal setting is a simple, straightforward way of creating this space.
Many of us shy away from goal setting. We’re fearful of not accomplishing our goal; therefore, we don’t solidify the exact result we’re hoping to achieve. We think that we need to know all the steps necessary to achieve the goal before we begin. What if the act of selecting one result for the upcoming week, one for the month, one for the upcoming season, and one for the upcoming year was about the journey and the process and not the result? What if we gave ourselves grace to learn and grow along the way?
Empty Your Mind
Begin by setting aside a peaceful hour on your weekly calendar. Perhaps it’s early in the morning or late a night. Grab a few pieces of paper or a journal, and your favorite beverage and drop all expectations for yourself. Set a timer for 5-10 minutes and empty out your current thoughts about your home, business, family, and/or yourself. Don’t judge the thoughts or the “I should’s” that arise, just write down the phrases that exist in your subconscious. These are the thoughts that rarely see the light of day. “I should call my grandmother more. I should spend less time on social media. I’d love to make more money next year. I should figure out how to fix this thing that’s been bugging me for ages.”
Again, don’t judge yourself. These thoughts are currently weighing your mind down. They’re taking up your brain’s processing space. Some of these items you’ll eventually decide to act upon. Some of them will turn out to be less of a priority than you originally thought. By allowing yourself dedicated time and space to make visible the mental clutter, you’ll then be able to evaluate the items objectively.
Permit Yourself to Dream
Next, allow yourself to dream. This can be challenging at first. Our primitive brains are designed to keep us safe – from not taking risks. Imagine a money goal, a relationship goal, a selfcare goal. Most likely, a tiny voice will pop up and say, “you don’t have time to…” Recognize that it’s your brain’s default mechanism trying to keep you stuck right where you are. It’s just a voice, and you can choose not to listen to it. List the possibilities, no matter how ridiculous or time consuming they seem. Again, it’s about acknowledging and creating the vision for your heart’s desire.
These two lists can co-exist in your life. Recognize that every single phrase you put down is optional. Some items may feel more critical and pressing than others; others feel impossible. Creating awareness around this is key. Every task and every goal take time to accomplish. You are in charge of what makes sense for you and your lifestyle at this moment.
Evaluate and Constrain
The process of setting goals is not scripted. The next step is to evaluate your lists for what you’d like to do, what you’d like to accomplish, and recognizing the relief or joy you’d feel by intentionally working towards making it happen. Simultaneously, recognize what you don’t want to do, what’s not an immediate priority, and allow yourself to classify those items as “someday maybe” tasks. We all have an unknown, fixed amount of time in our lives, and identifying what you’d like to accomplish, is in essence goal setting.
Give yourself permission to constrain to a few goals at a time. We often believe that, through multitasking or overscheduling ourselves, we will accomplish more. Setting goals gives our minds specific tasks to focus on. Trying to add more than a few things to your goal list will reintroduce the overwhelmed feeling you get. Your brain will get distracted more easily, and the tiny voice that keeps you stuck will return.
Ask yourself: “What’s one thing I can do this week that I’ve been avoiding?” Schedule time to make it happen. “What’s one thing I can reasonably set aside time to get done this month?” It can be as simple as sort through seasonal clothing and identify clothing for donations. It could be to finish the book that’s on your nightstand. Setting the intention and the time to do the task is more critical than the topic of the task itself. Repeat the questioning for the upcoming season and year.
Once you select one goal for each timeline, tuck your lists away. Get out your paper or electronic calendar and schedule the time to work towards your goal. For those that are distant goals (quarterly or yearly), simply put a note every week or two to check in with yourself about your progress. Set time to remind yourself of why the goal is important and why you’re consciously adding it to your calendar.
Love Yourself and Your Effort
Goal setting takes practice and focus, yet it’s a guaranteed way to move you forward. Just like organizing a junk drawer or cleaning out your closet will build the skill of decision making, setting goals of any size will encourage you to decide how best to spend your time. Instead of spinning in indecision and overwhelm, you will have decided exactly what to accomplish and scheduled the time to accomplish it.
Practice loving yourself along the way. For longer term goals, the process itself becomes the result. Acknowledge wins of any size and congratulate yourself. Rewarding your brain with positive affirmation will create reinforcement to repeat the process. You’ll build evidence of your own success, effort by effort. Whether you complete your goal within your designated time frame is totally up to you. Getting the task or dream goal out of your head and onto the calendar is a gorgeous first step.
Post written by Amelia Pleasant Kennedy, NAPO Michigan Member and Owner of A Pleasant Solution .