Goal setting can be kind of a stressful endeavour.
There’s this pressure to renew yourself, to better yourself and to achieve (or at least set out to achieve) some pretty ginormous things.
And you know what all that pressure adds up to? Anxiety baby!
But there are better ways ways to chase your dreams! Goals don’t have to feel like stressful undertakings. And perfectionism can suck it!
You can rework your approach to goals and make it a much less stressful, far more enjoyable experience! Let’s talk about it…
When Goals Hurt
It’s good to dream big! Big dreams are wonderful. Unrealistic, monumental goals aren’t so much. Vowing to make huge, unrealistic changes can not only set you up for failure, but cause a ton of stress. Oof, no thanks! When you set the stakes too high you may set yourself up for a ton of pain.
So Are Big Goals a Bad Idea?
Heck no! Dreaming and working to achieve the things that excite you are wonderful. But there are a few key factors that can make all the difference, set you up for success and reduce the stress.
Here are 5 tips that can help:
5 Goal Setting Tips
1. Know The Difference Between Inner And Outer Goals
The distinction between these two babies is pretty freaking important. So what are they?
Achievements that appear successful to the outside world. They might fit into a cultural ideal, please your family or simply be perceived as good by those around you.
Focus on how you want to feel and what you want to achieve, regardless of outer perceptions.
Sometimes outer and inner goals align, and that’s fantastic.
But inner goals should be your main focus. This is your life after all, you should be building something you’re excited about.
If you aren’t sure where your goals stand on the inner/outer goal spectrum, ask yourself these questions:
- Are you hoping to achieve this for you or those around you?
- Does this goal align with the life that you want to create for yourself?
- Do you feel pressured to achieve this goal?
- When you close your eyes and imagine achieving this goal, do you feel fulfilled?
Related: The Self-Care Check In Questions You Need To Ask
2. Embrace A ‘Less Is More’ Mentality
You might be tempted to have a list of goals ten pages long and start achieving the big things stat! But a long, strenuous, life changing to-do list will only lead to panic and potentially inaction. Because it’s just too dang much!
When you set out like this you may be biting off way more than you can chew, and that only leads to a burn out. So narrow it down and focus on a couple of things that are essential and/or excite you.
You can even take big goals and break them down into achievable steps, building up towards the major accomplishment.
3. Go With The Flow
You know that feeling when you’re completely in the zone? Fully immersed in your work, creating pure genius and feeling super excited about it? That’s the flow state! And that kind of goodness can’t be planned, it’s often caused by improvisation and focus.
When you’re in a state of flow, uninhibited by your own inner critic, you become more creative and expressive. And some pretty darn cool accomplishments can come out of that.
Sound too good to be true?
According to a study by John Hopkins Researchers, the spontaneity and creativity of the flow state allows observing jazz musicians to improvise amazing music! (source)
So set a few inner goals, but don’t over goal yourself and lose the opportunity to create a flow that allows you to create something authentic, unexpected and completely yours.
4. Realize It’s About Progress, Not Perfection
Oh perfection. That mean little word holds so many of us back. And I get it. It affects everyone from time to time. Goodness, the perfection bug bites me sometimes too in my work here. It an really hold you back! But perfection isn’t only impossible, it’s unauthentic and down right harmful.
Perfection undermines you in so many ways.
- Sometimes it stops you from even getting started in the first place, because the idea of perfecting something is so daunting and panic inducing that you feel like you shouldn’t even bother trying.
- The pressures of perfection might burn you out while you try to reach it’s impossible heights.
- It may cause you toss in the cards and give up.
And while it’s definitely ok to give up sometimes (we’ll talk more about that in a sec), I bet we wouldn’t do it as often if the pressure of being perfect weren’t there.
So let’s take a deep breath together and let the idea of perfection go. Let’s focus on progress instead, shall we?
When your goal setting is all about progress and not about perfection, you add a ton of joy and discovery to your ventures. Progress cheers you on. It stems from an open minded place and sometimes even leads you in directions you never could have discovered under the pressures of perfection.
5. Give Yourself Ample Time
You know what else can cause a ton of pressure and anxiety? Time constraints.
If you’re anything like me, the crushing feeling of too much to do and too little time to do it is outright painful. And you know how we often deal with that kind of blunder? We steal time from other areas, like sleep or self-care. That’s never good for our well-being.
It’s important to be realistic in your goal setting and give yourself the time and space you need to feel safe and secure enough to achieve them. And it really doesn’t hurt to add extra time to the plan too, just in case.
Life is full of surprises and sometimes things take longer to build than you anticipated. A little leeway can do a long way.
Related: The Wonderful Benefits and Importance of Rest
6. It’s Ok To Change Your Mind
You may find yourself halfway through your goal and feeling unfulfilled. Don’t panic.
Pause for a moment, reflect on what you’ve accomplished and what you had set out to do in the first place. If the goal no longer aligns with your path, don’t be afraid to let it go. (If you need a little help reflecting, meditation is a huge help).
You are not bound to these dreams. Sometimes you’ll outgrow things and that’s ok. Don’t be afraid to walk away from something that no longer serves you, even if it’s your own dreams. You are allowed to outgrow goals before they are achieved.
I promise you, there are new adventures waiting just around the corner.
Be gentle with yourself as you achieve those dreams. You’re doing great! And it’s ok if things take time. Little by little we go so far. Even the baby steps matter.
Now it’s your turn – what goal setting tips would you add to the list? How do you pursue your goals in a healthy way? Share with us in the comments below.
Health and love,
Thought of the day: I will pursue my dreams in a way that is loving and respectful towards myself.
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I like how you are helping us to remember that it’s all a progressive thing, and goals don’t happen over night. Great post!
I’m so happy you like it Lisa! Every step counts ♡. Wishing you well as you pursue your goals and dreams 😊
I love tips #s 3 and 5! I am a perfectionist at heart, and I tend to think that if I change my mind at some point after I’ve set my goals, then I’ve failed somehow. But you just helped me see that in a different way. I haven’t failed; I’m just on a different path!
That’s so wonderful to heal Mishael! Sometimes discovering that you’re on a new path is the most exciting adventure of all. You never know what new, wonderful possibilities you’ll find there. <3
I love the idea of fluidity in goal setting. I tend to be a perfectionist so things need to go A, B, C. I find myself highly frustrated because often life goes A, K, E. I had resolved not to resolve anything this year but I think maybe I’ll rethink it with a more self reflective not rigid one. Happy New Year Sara!! Hope yours is fab! ❤️
Oh goodness I feel you Jamie! I’ve been a victim of life’s AKE curveballs too. It takes time, but learning to embrace more fluidity is a huge help. And often times things turn out far more amazing than I think they ever would have if things went in the ABC direction I envisioned. I hope you have fun discovering a new way to set and achieve your goals hun! <3 Wishing you a wonderful New Year too! I hope it's magical :).
It’s great to think of goals as ‘inner’ and ‘outer’. I’ve never thought of it like that before, but will now. Nice post!
I’m so glad you like the idea of looking at goals this way Katie! That’s awesome. Thank you so much ♡. Happy dream building 😊
Love your positivism and specifying inner and outer goals! Great read!
I’m so glad to hear that Nadine! Thank you ♡. Wishing you well as you pursue your dreams!
Hi Baby – this is awesome – makes me think – when you were all babies, I could have used this advice! Love you
Thank you mama! I’m so glad you liked it ♡. You did an amazing job with the 4 of us. I wouldn’t be writing things like this if it weren’t for your amazing and inspiring influences. I love you ♡
Changing my mind will not be a problem. Thanks for the tips to starting an on task new year. I like to shoot big but this is a good reminder to start small first.
I’m so happy you like the tips Jonathan! That’s wonderful :). And I’m glad you’re comfortable with changing your mind if your goals no longer fit. Sometimes that can be one of the hardest things to do – it’s admirable and wonderful that you’re at peace with change! Wishing you a wonderful year ^^.
I completely agree with this list! The one that resonated most with me was that “it’s about progress, not perfection.” I think it is easy to set a goal at the beginning of the year and then to get discouraged immediately when you didn’t complete it in your vision of the “ideal.” Ideal and reality are often very different. You are still successful even if you haven’t met that ideal version. Anything we do to improve ourselves is beneficial.
Love the content…keep it coming!
Ashley @ Look for LIttle Helpers
Yes! I love your thoughts Ashley! Such a wonderful way to put it. Reality and our ideals definitely don’t always match, but that doesn’t mean that the reality we create isn’t a wonderful success. You said it so wonderfully. Thank you so much for sharing :). Wishing you a wonderful year and a beautiful reality ^^.
I love the idea of reassessing those goals if they don’t seem to be working for you!
Absolutely! I’m so happy you agree. I think it’s important to give ourselves permission to reassess and change routes if needed. It’s our world we’re building after all <3. Wishing you a wonderful year full of dream building :)
Great post! I like to focus on value — what do I give the most value and what actions can I take that will lead me to a life that is aligned with those values.
That’s a fantastic way of looking at things Stephanie! That really helps to make sure that you’re pursuing your inner goals and making sure you’re building a life you adore. I love it! Thanks for sharing your wonderful outlook 🙂
This is such a fantastic list! Thank you for putting this together. I’m working on inner goals this year, and I know eventually, they will cross over to outer goals. One step at a time! 😀
I’m so happy you loved it Jessica! You’re more than welcome ♡. I hope you have a beautiful year focusing on wonderful inner goals 😊.
Imogen @ I'M HIRED
Never really thought about the inner/outer goal idea but love that thought.
Also, the timeline is key to make your goals real!
I’m so glad you like the idea of inner and outer goals Imogen! And you couldn’t be more right – timeline really matters. It’s especially important to give yourself enough time so you have the space you need to achieve your goal :). I love it! Thanks for sharing your awesome tip <3
The Restless Wild
Great tips! I think it’s good to know which are inner and outer goals, and that way you can stay focused on your personal values and the goals that align with that. Very helpful post!
Thank you so much Liz! I’m really happy you like the idea of inner and outer goals <3. It's so important that we build a life we love ^^. Wishing you a wonderful year focused on marvelous inner goals!
I struggle with the perfection thing a lot. Thanks for the tips.
YES! I am all for setting SMART goals. I think as you mentioned, it’s important to aim for progress, rather than perfection. When we see progress, it drives us to keep going forward in reaching this goal.
I need to be more organized, and set goals and have a plan. This is a good way to have better focus.
I struggle with perfectionism, but I actually feel less stress when I set goals and have steps written down to achieve them. It takes the overwhelm away and lets me bite off small pieces to work on so I always feel like I’m on a positive path.
These are excellent points! I love setting goals because I feel so accomplished when I crush them. The idea of creating both outer and inner goals is wonderful.
I love setting goals, it makes me feel like im being productive. I’ve never heard of inner goals and outer goals-I will start implementing these in my goal setting.
Less is more – yes! I am one of those people who had to learn that the hard way because I used to make too many goals and then not achieve them. Very good tips! Blessings!
I love the way you have defined outer and inner goals and explained the concepts so well. In fact without goals, achievements do not come in. Very nice article, inspiring one.
Great suggestions. You are so right that perfection will make you feel defeated.
Thank you so much for the tips and wisdom, these are all helpful and I gotta share this!
This was such a great read. Goal setting is so important and through this process helps tick those goals of the list for sure x
“REALIZE IT’S ABOUT PROGRESS, NOT PERFECTION”….how I wish we all got to know this, before we start on this journey. Many times, we want perfect and not those sluggishly moving baby steps! Good stuff! Thank you for sharing.
I’ve been a victim too. So I believe these points are really important.
Sara, you really are amazing. I’m working so hard at the moment setting up my organic skincare busines. Woke up this morning feeling exhausted from several bad nights’ sleeping …thinking stuff over. How refreshing to read your latest post about goal achieving; not biting off too much; doesn’t have to be perfect etc. Thank you! It is all too easy to get carried away on the path of huge dreams rather than sticking to bite-sized, manageable, affordable chunks! You were just the tonic that I needed xxxx