Why I'm Choosing Emotions Over Goals in 2017
written by regular contributor, callie gisler
Setting goals always came easy for me. I never had a problem jotting down projects and creating a plan to make it all happen. My old notebooks are filled with carefully crafted lists of New Year’s resolutions, broken down into milestones and bite-sized action steps. Things like lose five pounds every month or put at least $100 into my retirement account every month.
They were everything that SMART goals should be: specific, measureable, achievable, realistic, time-based. I did the thoughtful planning every business and self-help book recommended. And I didn’t accomplish any of them.
My carefully calculated goal quickly started to feel like a chore someone else was was forcing me into. Losing five pounds sparked anxiety when the numbers on the scale weren’t changing. Putting away money for retirement generated a scarcity mindset.
No matter how measureable, realistic, or specific, if a goal doesn’t help you feel good, it might not be the right goal.
This new way of thinking wasn’t a personal epiphany. I found Danielle LaPorte’s The Desire Map back in 2014 and my goal setting process has looked dramatically different ever since. As said, it’s never hard for me to come up with a bucket list for the new year ahead; there’s always a hundred different projects I want to tackle. But these days, I’m putting a lot more intention behind the things on that list.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of Core Desired Feelings, it starts with one easy question: How do you want to feel?
The answer to that question often leads to a list of emotions that you’re craving, which then become a guiding target for the decisions you make in your life—including which goals you decide to tackle. The process might look a little different for everyone, but the final results can bring some powerful clarity into your grand plan for the year.
I started inviting my Core Desired Feelings into my yearly visioning and seasonal planning about two years ago. I started recognizing the emotions I was craving and what I could do to help cultivate that feeling. The approach showed me that I put a lot of expectation of how I’d feel after accomplishing a specific goal. If I put money away into my retirement account, I’ll feel more prepared and less anxious about my finances. I wanted to accomplish the goal to feel a certain way, but my thought process was completely backwards.
This year, I chose five emotions and five different goals I could work towards to cultivate those emotions.
Things do overlap since each specific goal supporting several different emotions.
Here’s an example: One feeling on my list for 2017 is nourished. I want to feel sustained and healthy in the new year—physically, mentally, and emotionally. From the feeling of nourishment stemmed two specific goals that I knew would help me feel the way I want to feel:
- Develop a weekly yoga practice that supports me physically and emotionally. Why? Yoga strengths the body, stretches the muscles, and reduces stress.
- Take a new class each season that fulfills me mentally. Why? Learning something new fills me up in a way nothing else can. (Yup, I’m a nerd who missed homework and college classes.)
The biggest difference with these goals and the failed action plans collecting dust in my old notebooks? They came from a place of intention that would impact multiple areas of my life, instead of addressing one specific pain point.
Each goal also feed into other Core Desired Feeling on my list. Learning something new makes me feel productive. Morning yoga leaves me feeling empowered to tackle the day. Even a small step leaves me feeling positive.
Of course, I didn’t ditch my old process entirely. I still create a supporting plan for each goal. Breaking each one down into action steps for the month or season adds some much needed accountability and direction. Plus, it gives me the thrill of crossing something off my to-do list. Doing this month-by-month or quarter-by-quarter gives me a chance to monitor progress, but also check in with my Core Desired Feelings on the regular.
Feeling the way I want to feel is the main goal, so I’m not afraid to edit my plan if something just isn’t working.
Choosing to focus on feelings first let me cultivate goals that really mattered; it helped me identify the areas of my life in which I could make the biggest impact. And I’m starting the new year with potent clarity because of it.
Callie Gisler is a public relations strategist who helps female business owners tell their brand stories through bold and authentic communications strategies. You can usually find me with a cup of coffee in hand.