Mindfulness and Goal Setting

imagesMindfulness can influence goals we set by giving them a more gentle, realistic and achievable tone.  Here are some mindfulness influenced tips and ideas for setting goals:

 Resist letting perception shape your goals: We all have limiting beliefs about ourselves – bad habits of thought based on past failures – It’s part of being human.  Our perceptions can negatively shape goals we set by getting in the way of aiming high.  Statements like, “I’ll never be able to save enough money” or “I’d like to lose 15 pounds but I’ve never been able to lose weight before so I can’t possibly set a goal around losing weight” can fill our heads and hearts and spook us before we even try to make a change. Your mindfulness practice can help you become more aware of these self-limiting beliefs, and help you start replacing them with positive, kinder self-talk.

When setting goals, be specific: The more specific you can be, the greater the chance you’ll meet your goal. Vague goals around health and wellness, career, love and family life will only frustrate you. The more you can define your goal in concrete terms with health measurements, numbers, dates, time frames and any other metric that applies, the greater your chance of success.

Break it down: Along with defining your goal in measurable terms, break it down into milestones. The end game may be to get a new job, for instance, but the steps along the way may involve networking, making a video resume and going on informational interviews.

Reward yourself: Along with breaking down your goal into smaller pieces, take time to acknowledge yourself for a job well done at the completion of each milestone. Just as we have a tendency to resist shooting for the moon, we also tend to be overlook our small successes. Take time to be proud of what you’ve achieved thus far by doing something meaningful for yourself.

Be compassionate when you trip up: As much as we’d like to believe we’ll have a direct line from start to finish, it’s highly likely that you will need to adjust your time line for achieving your goal.  If your goal is to run a marathon, you might get ill or work may interrupt your training. If you’re trying to lose weight, you may have a week of business dinners that make it hard to eat healthy. Bring compassion and flexibility to your goal setting process and instead of berating yourself for missing a workout or gaining back a pound, wake up the day after feeling refreshed and with a new commitment to start again. One of the basic tenets of mindfulness is that every day is a chance to begin again.

We wish you 20 minutes of mindfulness every day!

For more on goals, see our mindful hub worksheet:  Using Mindfulness to Effect Personal Change

By contributing writer, Karen Fabian, Certified Baptiste Yoga teacher, founder, www.barebonesyoga.com.

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