Is your life turning out the way you want it to?
Not to get too heavy, but this is a question that has been on my mind a lot lately as I see “January 1st” creeping closer and closer on my calendar…
Am I becoming what I want to become?
This entire week I’ve been itching to break out my pen and paper and set some serious goals and intentions for next year, particularly in the areas of health and environmentalism. I think New Years resolutions are on a lot of your minds too!
However, this year I’m doing it all differently than I ever have before. I’m focusing on my values.
How Not to Set Goals
I don’t need to tell you about the many reasons why most annual resolutions fail; odds are you’ve already experienced the disappointment for yourself.
If I’m honest, most of my past resolutions have looked something like this: “Oh shoot, it’s almost January…New beginnings, fresh starts, goals! Where do I feel inadequate…fitness! I know: I’m going to be healthier this year.”
Awesome, Lauren. That’ll work great. There is literally nothing about this strategy that will end up working for me in the New Year. Why? Because that goal is totally untethered! It’s vague, has no real structure, and I came up with it in all of five minutes. There is a better way.
Value-Based Goal Planning
As I’ve grown, I have discovered that I find the greatest level of fulfillment and satisfaction when the goals I set for myself are aligned with my personal values. In other words, they’re “value-based” goals, first and foremost.
Values are the intangible aspects of life that make you feel like you’re “on track” or thriving at a high level.
They are the essence of who you are. Your center. Your core. And they come in many different forms! Some examples of values might be freedom, community, gratitude, prestige, conservation, creativity, faith, wellbeing, etc.
Take a look at the photos below. What images speak to you? Which ones inspire?
Take a look at the world around you.
What makes your heart sing and your blood boil? Where do you experience flow and “ease” in your life?
Say, for example, minimalism is a trait that you identify with strongly. What is most important to you about minimalism? You may find that minimalism gives you a sense of peace or clarity.
Or maybe you are particularly passionate about family. You may find that the true, underlying value is community or connection.
Once you identify your values, commit them to memory and start choosing activities and goals that align with them!
Setting Productive Goals & Intentions
Now that you have a solid understanding of your personal values, it’s time to get down to business and set some real goals. To avoid watching your beautiful intentions go down the drain in a few months, I suggest working within this fabulous freebie worksheet I created for you, using the “SMART Goals” framework. You may already be familiar with it!
Make sure you have a very specific, targeted idea. For example, rather than saying you want to be more fit in the New Year, focus in on running a marathon or drinking a certain number of ounces of water each day.
Set some boundaries that will help you see progress. For example, rather than saying you want to save more next year, decide to save a specific $300 each month, no matter what.
Attainable doesn’t mean lame, it just means doable. How can you make your goal bite-sized? For example, it may not be prudent to set your sites on an acre-sized garden right away. Start by planting some herbs on the porch and focus on keeping them alive!
Relevant or Realistic
Relevance basically means “aligned with your values.” This year, I am personally much more interested in paying down my student loans for the sake of “freedom” than I am about keeping up an image of “wealth.” These are two different values. Decide what yours are and set goals that relate!
Give yourself a finish line. If a full calendar year works for your goals, that’s great! Otherwise, choose increments that make more sense – say, weeks or months.
A Little Inspiration
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Here are some ideas for green living and sustainability-related goals to help you get started!
- Spend time volunteering with animals.
- Support local ventures.
- Set weekly dates with friends.
- Start buying ethical only.
- Sell old clothing online to fund an adventure.
- Support charities working in conservation.
- Commit to enjoying an outdoor trip twice a month.
- Replace disposables with reusable alternatives.
- Start sharing random acts of kindness on a regular basis.
- Start every morning with gratitude.
- Make your own clothing and accessories.
- Go vegan.
- Commit to learning all you can about sustainability.
- Start shopping organic.
- Schedule time with nature.
- Read every day.
- Buy from traditional artisans.
- Get a Zero Waste accountability partner.