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The New Year is an exciting time as it marks a fresh, clean slate from which you can start anew. Filled with inspiration, intention, and wonder, you recommit to chasing your dreams and making them a reality. You write out your goals and aspirations, buy new day-planners, and set out to create positive and lasting change in your life. For the glue to stick long-term, however, there needs to be a grander vision—one that is meaningful and purpose-based.
Writing your list of intentions for the New Year can be an inspiring process—one that’s often birthed from a deeper desire to be, do, or have new experiences in the coming year. The act of contemplating where you’re at in your life and visioning for what’s to come stirs a new energy within—an energy of intrigue, hope, and inspiration. When done with awareness and intention, it sparks a connection to something bigger that lights your path.
The unfortunate reality of what often happens after a few short weeks is that the list gets put away or you stop looking at it with the same excitement and adoration. What started out as a highly motivated and productive launch into your new self begins to sputter like an old rig out of gas. You lose your momentum and things slowly wane. Within a month or two, you’re back where you were in November feeling disappointed that you didn’t follow through with what you said you were going to do.
What happened? You were so certain this was going to be your year!
Having a vision of where you are heading and why that is important to you is the one fundamental piece of achieving meaningful, long-term goals that many people fail to consider. The seemingly most logical thing to do is to sit down and make a well-intended list of things you want to change or accomplish in the New Year and then go charging out of the gate come January 1.
Where you go wrong is not looking farther down the path to where it will lead you three, five, or 10 years from now. You neglect to explore why this goal is important to you and where it’s ultimately leading you. In short, the goals you put out there aren’t connected to anything bigger—they’re just floating out in the middle of nowhere, anchored to nothing. In many cases, when these one-off goals are actualized they don’t pack much punch and you’re left thinking “That was cool” or feeling meh.
When your intentions and goals are aligned with your vision, however, they’re connected to what is most important to you at the deepest level. There is a lifeline linking your vision to each of the independent goals you’ve set along the way and those goals, when achieved, end up being the milestones you pass as you close the distance between where you are and where you want to be.
Successful business people know that the company or organization must first begin with a vision—what they offer, who they serve, and what is the intended outcome. Business leaders understand that there is a specific mission they are on—a purpose they intend to fulfill, which will make their brand the best at what they do and will also be sustainable long term. Creative directors also begin with the end in mind. They have a vision of where they want to be and they build their projects from end to beginning.
When looking at a fresh canvas to create your next masterpiece on, it will serve you well to begin with the following questions:
Your next steps are to choose an area of life that is most in need of your attention. Once you’ve settled on an area of focus, spend some time considering (and writing down) why this is important to you. Now you can begin setting your goals. Remember, your goals are the milestones you reach that indicate you’re moving closer to your vision. Ask yourself “What needs to happen for me to actualize this dream or this vision?” Those will be your goals. In some cases, you’ll be required to meet several small-to-medium sized goals and in other cases there may just be one or two bigger ones.
Once you’ve identified your goals it’s time to take action. It’s not enough to stare at your vision board every day while sitting on your couch hoping opportunity will come knocking. Now is when you look at your goal and ask yourself “What do I need to do this week to move me closer to my goal?” and then GO DO IT! Again, your action items might be several or there may just be one or two big ones. You’re usually fired up at the beginning of the year because you’re inspired, motivated, and full of hope. If you can go the distance to achieving your goals, living a purpose-filled life full of the things you earned is much closer than you think.
Keep in mind that it’s normal to feel some trepidation, nervousness, and even fear when setting big goals that are connected to your purpose in this life. You should feel some sort of energy buzzing because you’ve just declared to the universe that you’re going after something monumental. Don’t let that sway you from your path. Anything worth having will require commitment, dedication, and a steady focus. As American New Thought minister Reverend Michael Bernard Beckwith says, “pain pushes until the vision pulls you.”
At the end of the day, there is no wrong way to set goals other than to not set them at all. There is value in setting smaller goals just for the sake of setting them—and then achieving them. It’s fun, it’s rewarding, and it hopefully inspires you to set more goals. And, when the goals you set are connected to a vision of where you want to be in three years, five years, or 10 years, they pack a more solid punch because they’re directly linked to who you are becoming in your life.
Get the resources you need to achieve your goals in the new year, both big and small, with The Chopra Center’s Discover Your Purpose Toolkit, which includes a free e-book, worksheet, 1:1 discovery session, and guided meditation. Get your free toolkit now.