Goal setting is one of the crucial steps of planning people go through at the beginning of the year. There are various methods and ways to go about it out there on the internet. I am not really sure if I contributing to that chaos or paving the way for clarity by sharing my own way of doing it. But, so far, it is the method that I have found to be enjoyable and enriching. Taking that into account, people like me might find this method helpful as well. This blog is dedicated to all those people.
In the last video on the Save Ourselves Youtube Channel, I explained why you don’t need to turn everything into goals. To give a quick recap, I recommended that instead of setting goals for everything in our life, we can go about things a little differently. We can, instead, categorise the aspects of our lives into hobbies, pursuits and goals. Here’s a quick breakdown of each of them:
Hobbies: Things and activities we do for leisure and for the sake of doing them. We do these activities because they bring us joy and fulfilment, even entertainment. We don’t need to convert these into regimental, structured goals and can turn to them when we seek solace and pleasure.
Pursuits: These are activities that are prioritised or actively pursued. Whether it's learning a new instrument, learning a language, getting better at reading, or improving writing skills, these activities can be borrowed from hobbies or goals, both. Any kind of activity that we are actively pursuing for the time being can fall under pursuits.
Goals: These are achievable and attainable markers that we are working towards. Activities related to career, education, business and side hustles tend to fit into this category well. Certain tasks or projects need structuring and systematisation. Such tasks are a better fit in the goals category.
Now that we’ve got an overview of this categorisation, let’s move on to the second step. This blog breaks down my two-pronged approach towards goal-setting. I don’t resort to traditional goal-setting methods but used this self-devised method instead. Feel free to take what you will from it and tweak it to suit your lifestyle best. That is how I invented this system myself.
The first prong - The internal approach
No matter which category you have placed a certain task in, I believe that each task can be started with an intention in mind. I called this the internal approach. By setting intentions and systems for the activities that make up our life, we own the power of seeing these tasks through. We resort to a more internal locus of control. I like this step because it is empowering. It can let you exercise a certain amount of control over the tasks you undertake.
I recommend approaching each activity with an intention. For eg, you need not set a goal to read 52 books a year to become a better reader. However, you can set an intention like ‘I will make reading a priority this year because it is a meditative activity for me’. At the same time, you can create a system or a routine around it which can look like reading for 20 minutes before bed every day. Since reading is a leisurely activity for you, you are keeping the joy in it intact by setting intentions instead of converting it into a regimental goal of ‘finish 1 book each week’ which can be daunting at times. This is a slower, more mindful way of setting your goals and creating a lifestyle instead of simply creating a chain of milestones. This method looks at your daily life, at the zoomed-in picture, instead of focusing on the bigger picture. After all, it is the day-to-day life that we are constantly living.
Like the example of reading, you can set intentions for everything in your life. Not all these intentions need to be accompanied by systems or routines. Some can be left as they are. Here are a few intentions that I am setting this year.
“I want to have a more balanced daily routine where I don’t overwork nor do I while away my time.”
“I want to say yes more and be more spontaneous as that’s what adventure means to me. My word of the year is ‘adventure’ and I want to choose it as often as I can.”
“I want to be consistent with my blog and Youtube channel by publishing weekly content.”
The second prong - The external approach
As much as we like to believe that we are in control of our life, more often than not, it is untrue. Life manages to throw a curveball at us every now and then. This means that adopting only an internal approach is not enough. We have to take into account the opportunities, adventures, mishaps and hurdles that life throws at us. In short, we also need to have an external approach. I like to utilise the fact that I am not totally in control of life to my advantage. I do so by creating wishlists. Combined with intentions, this wishlist lets you envision your dream life.
There are so many things that we want that are simply not in our control. For example, you might want a promotion at work. While you can prove your worth by working hard, that does not guarantee a promotion. External factors like the decision of your boss, the state of the company finances and your performance in comparison to your coworkers will affect the ultimate decision of your promotion. And these are factors that are completely out of your control. So how can we set ‘getting a promotion’ as a goal? What I like to do instead is use a combination of intentions and wishlists to set this goal.
The intention part of it can say “I will work hard at my current role and give it my best.”
The wishlist part can say “I get the promotion that I have been dreaming about with better benefits.”
For the examples I previously stated during the intentions part, here is what their wishlist counterparts could sound like.
Intention: “I want to have a more balanced daily routine where I don’t overwork nor do I while away my time.”
Wishlist: I find a job that favours my balanced lifestyle and my schedule is manageable and enjoyable.
Intention: “I want to say yes more and be more spontaneous as that’s what adventure means to me. My word of the year is ‘adventure’ and I want to choose it as often as I can.”
Wishlist: I get opportunities to go on trips and get to attend interesting events.
Intention: “I want to be consistent with my blog and Youtube channel by publishing weekly content.”
Wishlist: My Youtube channel gets 100k+ subscribers and my blog has thousands of weekly readers.
Are you getting the hang of my two-pronged system?
It is essentially breaking down a goal into an internally set intention combined with a wish that’s beyond our control but that we desire. Things like numbers and timelines are not fully in our control, so all we can do is hope and wish for them. However, we can grease the wheels by doing our part and catalyse the whole process. No matter the end result, you at least have the satisfaction of giving it your best shot.
So there you have it, my simple two-pronged approach to goal-setting. Test it out for yourself if you’ve been on the hunt for goal-setting inspiration. I recommend writing or noting down these intentions and wishlists somewhere so that you’ll be able to look back on them and reflect on your progress later on.
I have also made a video on the same topic. Feel free to watch it to get to know this topic even better.