Before You Set Goals or Make Resolutions

Every year, New Year’s Resolutions (or reasons not to make them) pop up all over the web.  Goal setting classes are the norm.

I usually do an annual review late in December.  But goals and plans are important to me.  So I start off that process by asking myself some questions.  The answers dictate what I put my focus on in the coming year.  And they ensure that I am happy with who I am and what I’ve done with the twelve months ahead of me.

1.  What do I want for myself?  For this year?  For my life?

Don’t think about this; just throw answers on the page.  These could be one word or sentences.  And the list might be long.  Don’t worry about it – just write the list.

2.  What *should* I want?  Look back over the list in number 1 and ask yourself how many of these ‘wants’ are actually things you ‘should’ want.  Perhaps you put ‘more time with my family’ on the list but you don’t really like your sibs.  Or your family get togethers are stressful.  Why would you want to spend more time with them?  For you, this is a ‘should’, not a want.  Review the list and strike off or note any that are not really things you want.  It’s  okay, no one else is going to see the list, so be honest.

3.  What are my passions? Or my most urgent priorities?  These are the desires that you really, really want.  These are the hidden ones – the ones you never tell others about.  These are too big or too good to share with others.  Write them down.

4.  What are the priorities I think about all the time?  These are the ones on my mind all the time.

5.  Are my desires really mine or have I adopted someone else’s?  Do you want to be a doctor or is that my mother’s dream for me?  Review the lists and notice how much of what I want is really for others.

6.  What really matters to me at this time in my life?  Maybe it’s not writing but succeeding in my career?  Or keeping my job?

7.  What needs my attention?  Is the clutter in my house stopping me?  Or the mess in my car?  Does my home need organizing?

8.  What am I afraid of?

9.  What am I afraid of losing?

10.  What am I afraid of gaining?  What happens if my deepest desires become true?  What will it cost me?

We’re all busy people.  But taking the time to answer these questions will help us guarantee that  our goals or resolutions will take us in the direction we want to go – the direction we really really want and not in repetitive circles that keep us from our deepest dreams.

So what will you do with these questions?  Will you take the time to answer them?  Will you allow your internal wisdom to guide you going forward in 2012?  Let me know how you’ve made out and if you’ve learned anything new.


About Louise Behiel

Author, coach, therapist, mother and grandmother. I'm on a spiritual journey and consciously work to grow every day.
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41 Responses to Before You Set Goals or Make Resolutions

  1. Pingback: Happy New Year! « Serena Dracis' Blog

  2. That’s a picture form a Motorcycle isn’t it? that one at the end… Sorry I really ought to ride my bike more. *Grin*

    Okay now that I’m not longer distracted… I probably should book make this and try out your questions. Even if I”m half scared of what I’ll find out (okay maybe not really). :}

    :} Cathryn

    • Cathryn it’s from Google images and yes, I think it’s from a motorcycle. I like the road image. Be brave and jump in with the question. It won’t take long and you’ll be surprised at what you discover. Let me know how you make out.

  3. These are great questions, Louise. I’ve been working on my 2012 goals, both professional and personal. I can see how focusing on these questions, and answering them, will prevent me from going in too many directions at once. 🙂

    • Thanks Sheila. They are part of the questions I ask and answer before we do the CARWA goal setting meeting or at the end of the year. And you’re right – they help me focus on what I want to do and limit all that other stuff.

  4. Shelly Immel says:

    Hi, Louise. I really like using questions to open my mind to new knowledge and wisdom, instead of assuming that what used to be true for me is still true. This is a great set of questions, very useful to help focus attention on the heart’s true desire. Happy New Year!

  5. Coleen Patrick says:

    Great questions Louise. I know I need to be more specific with my goals and that the question-what are you afraid of–is usually the big one for me.
    Happy new year 🙂

  6. Coleen, your fears are common and more so for us women, I think. it’s certainly can cripple me. What if I do this and nobody cares? what if nobody comes? WANA1011 has been the biggest gift in that regard – we signed up and we ‘bought’ that we are not alone. Then we started moving forward with our blogs, knowing there would be people to help and support us. And once over the initial fear, we become regular bloggers and therefore marketers.

    Pretty cool.

  7. Amy Jo Fleming says:

    Great post Louise. I know I get crazy busy at Christmas, but now its great to have some time to stop and refect on my life, and what directions I want to take.

  8. I really like these questions, they are ones I think I’m afraid to ask and yet would benefit greatly from them. I’m going to jot all these down in my super secret journal. The one where I plan out my weekly writing/life goals ~ that way I can review it each week and make sure I’m on target. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Good luck Tameri. Let me know how it goes. I know they’ve been helpful for many of my clients and friends. And me, of course.

  10. LOL “What if I do this and nobody cares?” is a big one for me! I admit I haven’t really given bigger-picture goals like you’re talking about here much thought – mostly I just concentrate on my writing goals. That *is* really what I want, but not all. Thanks for giving us food for thought!

    • You’re welcome Jennette. Isn’t that an ugly question? It can stop me in my tracks. I continue to work with that thought. You’d think I’d be over it by now. Good luck with your writing goals.

  11. Fabio Bueno says:

    Wow, Louise! This post floored me. I need some time alone to reflect on these questions. #5, #8, and #10 never crossed my mind. Thank for this insightful post!

  12. I wasted too many years failing to differentiate between “shoulds” and “wants,” and setting goals others felt I should accomplish. It’s taken almost a half-century, but this year I plan to ponder deeply before making any resolutions. Your questions are a great guideline, Louise!

    • Debra, you and me both. I am an expert on the ‘shoulds’ and like you they guided my life for a long time. I’m better but still work to ensure my motivation for action and choices.

  13. Jenny Hansen says:

    What an incredibly powerful post, Louise! These are great questions…I’ll be back after my software rollout is over to “take the quiz.”

  14. Emma Burcart says:

    Those are awesome questions! I am definitely going to take the time to answer them, but I’m going to do it when I have the time to spend on really answering them. (That means after work.) I think these are all so important and can get as much done for me as meeting with a counselor or life coach. Life changing. Thank you!

  15. Great post, Louise. Jeez, I wish I’d read this before I published my post – it’s definitely one to add! Your questions will help clarify goals for many people.

    Questions #2 and #5 used to be huge roadblocks for me. Now I need to focus more attention to numbers 7-10! Thanks for sharing!

  16. Michelle Beattie says:

    Louise, I’m pretty disciplined, but I know a friend who would greatly benefit from these questions!

  17. Louise, these are awesome questions that frankly cannot be taken lightly. And that is why I had to return today instead of making my comment yesterday. I was completely brain dead last night. I wanted to give your post my utmost attention because you dealt with some very important issues. I love the way you think Louise! I relate to no one showing up. Why do we as people need so much validation? Wow we can certainly be needy. But as you know, I have set some goals for the next few months. They may change as my schedule eases up. lol Like that’s gonna happen. Thank you so much for all your support and what a wonderful post! 🙂

    • You ask a great question Karen “Why do we need so much validation?” If I had the answer to that I’d be a self help author making gazillions on the speaker circuit. Good luck with your goals. I’m sure you’ll be fine.

  18. Great questions, Louise! I love that you address personal passion… I think that component’s lacking from many people’s resolutions. They want a result they feel they “should” have, such as flatter abs, but are not passionate about healthy eating or exercise. We should put our energy where our passion is. Unless passion = alcohol, other drugs, doughnuts… 😉

    Hope your 2012’s off to a FABULOUS start!

  19. Kara says:

    These are truly insightful questions that we should ask ourselves before setting our goals. Thank you for sharing! I’m working on answering those questions now, and I’m surprised by a few of my answers:)
    Great post!

  20. My New Year’s resolution this year is to treat myself better–to nurture my creative side, to give myself permission to say no, to tend to my health better than I have in the past. That might mean making more time to write. It might mean starting a new project with real heart or finishing an old one that’s been waiting in the drawer for far too long. It might mean taking a yoga class or trying recipes from a new cookbook. However my resolution manifests itself, I’m hoping to make 2012 a year in which I build a solid foundation for the path I want to take in life. The questions you’ve asked in your post will help me figure out exactly what direction to take my resolution. Thanks! Happy New Year! 🙂

  21. Thank you for such an insightful and thought provoking post. It was helpful. As always, I repeated my vow to be a better and more loving person, but that is an ongoing resolution. Taking your advice I did set a few writerly goals for 2012. They can be found here:

    I apologize for sneaking in the advert. Most cheeky of me, I know.

  22. Pingback: Learning from Icarus: A Different Kind of New Year’s Resolution | Janelle Madigan

  23. Pingback: Learning from Icarus: A Different Kind of New Year’s Resolution | Denise D. Young, writer

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