I used to never set goals—i.e., the type of resolutions that people set on December 31 while drinking champagne. Yes, I had plenty of monthly, quarterly, yearly, and even five-year goals in my corporate and startup life. Yet until my meditation and mindfulness practices intensified a few years ago, I never set personal, New Year’s eve-style resolutions.
For the past few years, however, I have been setting goals.I have also tried to set goals thoughtfully, making sure that they not only address all areas of my life but also incorporate both SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, reachable, and time-bound) goals and what I call “left-brain” goals—i.e., goals that ensure I enjoy the journey as well as the destination.
After all, life is a journey. And we are all sailors, perpetually sailing to new destinations, whether next year’s December 31 or other important milestones.
2019 is a new leg of this journey. And our New Year’s resolutions are the destination—whether to reach business milestones, get married, run a marathon, or save enough to buy a house.
Our left brain is very good at making sure that these goals are SMART so that we can stay focused and measure progress towards reaching them. The problem: with these goals,we often forget to enjoy the journey.
We can also go without goals entirely: be open to what life sends at us; enjoy the journey; seize opportunities when they come.Unfortunately, the problem with this approach is that we inevitably become driftless sailors, at the mercy of the weather and the currents, our actions drifting based on our moods, the news, the remarks of our colleagues…
But there is a third choice, too. I think that we can have the best of both worlds, pursuing goals with a destination and which allow us to enjoy the journey.For example, my current SMART goals include growing my mindfulness coaching business, writing a book, and visiting new countries.
My “right-brain,” being-in-the-present, goals include meditating daily. These goals lack a quantifiable destination. (How would someone even measure mindfulness?) The purpose of these goals is not in reaching a destination but in increasing awareness of the moment—i.e., enjoying the journey while keeping an eye on the sails and compass.
To set right-brain goals,look at which regular activities increase your well-being and bring you joy (an effect that is usually compounded). Examples include: being present for critical family milestones, allocating time for personal development, and participating in community and service activities.
I wish you much mindfulness in setting your goals and much happiness in reaching them in 2019. If you would like to discuss your goals and/how to reach them, please drop me a line.
Happy New Year!