How to Set Goals and Intentions

Jan 11, 2018 | Hawaii Vacay, Hurray Vacay, Inside, Personal Growth | 0 comments

What are your goals? What is at the top of your mountain? Need help setting and achieving your goals? I’m here to help you say hurray. But first…

An admission: I am a natural goal setter and yet I still struggle with them. All the time. What can I say – we human beings are complicated and contradictory creatures. If you’re into astrology at all, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that my sun sign is in Capricorn. Even if you’re not into it, let’s just say that I am naturally attuned to creating goals, reaching them, and then creating more and more and more. I’m always on to the next mountain peek and yearn to go higher and higher each time. It’s part of what makes my work ethic so great, and my perfectionism and reach for success so exhausting sometimes. Being honest over here.

So when some of my fellow women in business and I were creating our business goals for the year, I got overwhelmed. I started thinking really big and getting nervous about the process and how in the world I’d get there. I kept thinking about what I wanted to achieve, instead of why I wanted to achieve it. So I took a step back and tried again. As is usually the case with these kinds of deeper, longer, blog posts on Hurray Kimmay … I was already brewing up ideas to share with you on this very topic when I was presented with an opportunity to put my own advice into action, and reach out and learn from others.

Below you’ll find a few of my favorite tips for setting and achieving goals in the kind of way that makes you say hurray. I don’t have a set formula. I don’t have a step-by-step process that will work for you for sure. One of the biggest things I learned when making goals with other women was that we all have different processes and different things work for each of us. So explore, experiment, and find what makes you say hurray.

Getting Started 

Start fresh with forgiveness – How not to say hurray when goal setting? Start from a place of “should”, fear, judgement, or misunderstanding. This will only lead you down a tricky path that is not truly fulfilling. Instead, try a Self Forgiveness Practice and get to the root of those judgements about what you should be doing, or how good or bad you think you are. Start with a clean slate.

Know your values – When I asked other people to weigh in on their top tips for making goals, confirming your values was on top of several lists. If you know your values – like freedom, creativity, feminism, compassion, family, faith, etc. – you can plant your goals in those values and you’re much more likely to follow through on projects and plans when they support what’s most important to you. Take some time to get to know yourself and what is truly important to you and then create goals that support those values.

Put in your order – One of my coaches and I discussed goal setting as putting in an order to the universe or God, and then allowing the universe to whip it up and serve you. This involves a bit of knowing what you want, and then surrendering. You would never go to a fancy restaurant and order the soup, and then go back into the kitchen and tell the chef exactly what ingredients to use, how to prepare it, and when to serve it to you, right? The same is true for asking for what you desire. Put in the order, and then let the chef (who knows what He’s doing), create it and send the waiter to bring it to you. It may turn out better than you could have ever imagined! All you need to do is get clear on what kind of dish you want.

How do you want to feel? – Base your goals on how you want to feel rather than the specific outcome you want. Danielle LaPorte’s Desire Map workbook is great for this. Never heard of it? She noticed that if she put something like “a trip to Aruba” {I’m using an example I’ve made up here} on her vision board, and didn’t go to Aruba in the next year, she felt like she’d failed or didn’t reach her goal. But the truth is, she wanted to go to Aruba because she wanted to feel connected to her husband, to feel relaxed, and to feel adventurous. Well maybe she didn’t go to Aruba, but she did take a weekend trip to go skiing with her husband, and tried new recipes, and traveled solo to California for a retreat. If she’d been focused only on Aruba, she may feel let down and not realize she got what she truly wanted, just in a different package. Similar to the example above, put your order in for how you want to feel, and let the “chef” surprise you with a dish that best fits the bill, even if it wasn’t what you had in mind.

Ask for guidance – I make a lot of my goals after I ask for guidance. From a mentor, from a peer, and most often, from my inner guidance and God. Letting go of the notion that I have to know it all or know the best way forward has freed me up to let in the good stuff: divine guidance. The best way for me to ask for guidance is in meditation and prayer. However you connect to your intuition or higher power, reach out and ask for help before deciding on your goals and plans. It can be as simple as slowing down, tuning inward, and asking: “Please guide me to create the goals that best support my purpose, and are for the highest good of all those involved. What guidance do you have for me? What do you require of me? How will you have me serve?”

Numbers – Sometimes number goals are so specific that we let them take over. For example, if your goal is “lose 20 pounds” or “make $50,000” or “gain 1000 Instagram followers”, it’s not telling you the whole story. As I preach all the time in my #MoreThanMyNumbers project, numbers are information, not a definition. So you can use them to check in on your goal, or to inform you of progress, but not to define whether you’re good or bad, a success or a failure. Use the suggestions above to set goals based on how you want to feel, or that match your values, and let the number inform you of how you’re doing, not who you are.

Set an intention – Intentions, to me, are a commitment to take a step. Each month during my Wild Woman circle, we set intentions for the new moon cycle. Sometimes, the desire or goal that comes up is big, and it can be tempting to set a big intention toward something vague. Instead, I offer this phrase: “This moon cycle, I will take a step toward {insert goal} by {insert intention}.” Taking a step is all that is required. It lifts the fear of having to “get there” and frees you up to get started.

How to set hurray goals on the Hurray Kimmay blog

Take Action

Break it down and map it out – I told you that I got overwhelmed by my big goals, right? That’s why it’s important to break the goals down into milestones, and then actual tasks. I like to think of my goals as a desired destination, and I create a road map with pit stops or key attractions along the way. And keep in mind, just like there are many roads that lead to a destination, you don’t have to choose THE path, but choose one and head out on the road.

Task manage – Use a planner (I’m trying Conquer Your Year), put it in your calendar (if it’s not in my Google calendar, it doesn’t happen), or use a task management system (my team and I use Asana). Or use a good old fashioned piece of paper and to-do list for crying out loud. Use something. Because breaking down those goals into milestones and actual small tasks means getting it out of your head and into your life. Set due dates that feel achievable for each task and see how it goes.

Track your progress – Make it a daily, weekly, or monthly ritual to check in on your progress. Check stats, check in with your heart, check in on your milestones. Stay aware as you continue through this process. That will allow you to fine tune or adjust as needed. And here are two important things: 1) celebrate along the way! Give yourself some hurray for the progress you’ve made and learning you’ve done. No one says you have to wait until the end to say hurray! 2) Part of checking in with your heart means making sure that as you travel along your journey toward your goal, that it is still in alignment with your desires, needs, and purpose. If it’s not? Adjust.

Kimmay gives tips on setting hurray goals on the Hurray Kimmay blog

Let It Flow

Vision board it – One of my most favorite ways to keep my goals and how I want to feel in mind is to see it every day. I have vision boards for specific goals and general big desires in my office and my house, and I’ve hosted vision board parties and meditations many times. This is my JAM. You can do the traditional type of cutting up magazine images and words and pasting them to poster board, or the new digital way of a Pinterest board filled with images and quotes. Personally, I have done both and I usually prefer the traditional method because then I can literally see my vision each day. And what we see becomes what we think, which becomes what we do. Try one out and see if it works for you.

See it happening – There is a lot of evidence (that I’m not prepared to quote here, sorry) that supports visualizing the outcome you want. Famous sports players, powerful CEOs, and everyday Janes and Joes use this technique to see their goal actually taking place or as if it’s already happened.

Give thanks “as if” it’s already happened – I recently got this advice and it has helped me with a great deal. Pretend (but really believe into it) that the goal you want has already happened and list out your gratitude for it and its surrounding feelings and events.

Follow the path as it unfolds – I chose the images of a mountain here because of a very specific and helpful lesson I learned while climbing up steep, zigzagging trails in National Parks. Often, the trail ahead and upward was only visible for about 20 yards or so. The rest was unseen to me. I had to trust that there was more pathway ahead, and just focus on the 20 or so yards at a time. Even if we don’t know exactly how we will get there down the line, put your faith in the fact that all you need to know and the steps you need to take will unfold as you need to take them.

Surrender the outcome – I know this sounds really backward. I know. So let’s go back up to the “put in your order” suggestion. Sure, it’s important to know what you want to eat and to put in the order. And – then you let go. You surrender your desire and goal to how it will unfold for the highest good. I had a really awesome vision last year that I was rooted in the intention of “showing up fully”. And I saw the year ahead with all sorts of amazing events and accomplishments. I was tempted to go after them all in the order and the timing that made sense to me… but instead, because I was rooted in this intention to show up fully, I had to keep my feet planted and the events and goals floated toward me, one at a time. They arrived in an order and for a length of time I would never have picked. And then they came into arm’s reach, I worked worked worked, and then they floated away. This was my visualization of trusting that God or the universe knew the perfect timing. So I surrendered the order of events and pledged to show up fully. Trust me on this – it was not an easy task to do so (I had a lot of fears around “I should be doing more” or “what if that thing doesn’t happen!) but it was so worth it. SO worth it.

Let’s hear from some other goal-getters!

Read a few suggestions from some Hurray Kimmay readers and friends. Let me know if any of their advice rings true for you – and if you happen to notice a theme!

-Lorraine Hamilton, Coach and Coach Trainer

The biggest challenge to successful goal setting that I see in my practice is setting ‘should’ goals. Things we think we should be achieving as opposed to goals that are aligned to our core values. Much like what has been mentioned here around Desire Mapping, I insist that my clients all complete a values exercise before we even begin to look at action plans to achieve goals.
Once we have the values, then we can look at the goals that will help improve those areas of life. For example, at the retreat I always work through an example of ‘Improved Health’ as a goal that we collectively look at. Then I use a tool called Stop|Start|Continue to brainstorm all the actions that will contribute to Improved Health.
What do I need to STOP doing to improve my health?
What do I need to START doing?
And what do I need to CONTINUE doing?
What this does is create a big brain dump of potential goals attached to Improving Health. The goals might be big – STOP self-sabotaging, or they might be smaller – CONTINUE celebrating success, but they are a starting point and allow my clients to see the possibilities.
The other thing to note around values aligned goals is that you don’t need to do everything to see an improvement in all areas of your life. What I mean by that is that there is a ripple effect, and once you begin to take focused action on one area, it ripples through to other areas of life, so you don’t have to ‘eat your frog’ necessarily to see results.
On a more practical level, I also advocate taking micro actions towards your goals. The reason for this is to fly under your fight/flight radar. When we try to take too big a leap at one time, our instinctive fear center can register this as a threat to survival and send us into fight/flight/freeze which looks a whole lot like procrastination and perfectionism in today’s world. So take tiny steps towards your goals.

When it comes to organizing and tracking goals, I carry out the same values exercise at the beginning, middle and end of my clients’ coaching relationship so that they can see the shifts happening, not only in the area of focus, but across all areas of importance. So if you are setting a 90 day sprint goal for example, it would make sense to check in every 30-45 days to see progress.
As far as organizing the specific actions required to achieve a goal, we are talking about changing behavior so it has to be prioritized consciously, until it becomes the new norm. That means scheduling and visualizing both the action, and strategies for set backs. The more we can prepare for the unexpected, the better the chances of success.

-CJ Infantino, Photographer

Before setting any goals I determine the values that I want to live by in each area of my life. Then derive my goals from those values.

For example, in the domain of recreation, I value being creative. One way for me to live out this value is through my photography.
So now I can set goals for what I want to get out of my photography. For instance, I want to own a studio and gallery.
I track my long-term goals (and values) by writing them down and rereading them roughly every day. This helps keep them fresh in my mind and will help me create and spot opportunities.
The long-term goals will help inform what my short-term goals need to be. The short-term goals get tracked in my project management, to-do and habit tracker apps.
I also do a “Ten Year Story” exercise. I write down what a specific day ten years from today looks like. I write every minute detail.
What time do I get up?
What color are my bed sheets?
What clothes do I wear?
What do I eat for dinner?
Every detail.
Then I read the story every six months.
The real “goal” is to live my life based on my values, not my emotions.
The thing is that our goals cannot exist apart from our values and we need to remind ourselves often of them.

-Rachel, Branding Stylist

I found that for me… when it came to setting goals I was always doing what other people said I should do, or thought I should do. And I ALWAYS ended up setting goals that were waaaay too high, or way too much to accomplish in just one year, or even one quarter.

THIS year, I decided to sink into my values a lot more, and also my theme and vision for the year. It turns out that I’ve ended up with goals that really support each other, don’t feel ridiculously huge (but they’re still going to be a big challenge, and a lot to do!) but that also feel GOOD. I’m not sure what got me to this place, other than a whole lotta reflection, thinking, journaling, listening to my intuition and really allowing myself to feel into what I wanted this year to look like.

As for tracking my goals, I’ve not found a way that works for me yet….so I’m creating my own. I’ve ordered so many planners and while one or two have aaaalmost got there for me, I just don’t do well with a daily planner when I have my task management system set up so robustly. So I’ve decided to create my own goal + stat tracker system/planner/journal – I’m testing it out over the course of this year, and plan to potentially release it later on in the year as one of my goals. I’m creating it for quite selfish reasons, but then realized it may be of real use to others out there too!

-Elizabeth Derby, Writer and Brand Strategist

The goal setting process is SO personal and SO flexible that you really have to listen to your gut and your heart before you try to apply anyone else’s methods. I’ve set it up like this:

1 = your Bigger Picture Goals.
2 = your Action Steps/Milestones/Mini Goals along the way

For me, the Bigger Picture Goals are NOT hyper-specific or measurable (with the exception of my financial goal). They are more like destinations I am committed to reaching this year. The big unifying thing about each one is that it EXCITES me and I know like you know like you know that I will get there…even if it ultimately looks different than I currently imagine it will. It’s like I’ve been looking through travel brochures and I picked some places I want to go. I am fully aware that when I land in Paris it might look different than it does in the brochure, but I am 100% going to get there.

For my Action Steps / Milestones, these are a combination of habits I want to develop, specific and tangible mini-goals I want to achieve, and my best guesses, from where I sit right now, about the best next step in order to get where I’m going. For example, if I use “going to Paris” as the analogy, I might choose the habit of practicing French speaking once a week, the concrete mini-goal of booking plane tickets, and the next step of posting on Facebook to find out who I know that currently lives in France that I could visit while I’m there.

Once my goals are defined, I start taking action…with full release of the outcome. Because I am not 100% sure of the path to get there–in fact, I may test different approaches along the way–but I know that I WILL work with God, the Universe, and my own intuition to make these Big Picture Goals happen. It’s done.

I think my biggest breakthrough in all of this is that I have GOT to listen to my own intuition and gut first. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks of my goals, because I am the ONLY one who knows if my plan resonates with my soul.

Your Turn: What goals feel good to you? What is at the top of your mountain and what smaller goals can you set to get there? How can you approach goal setting in a way that makes you say hurray? What big and small goals do you have for the day, month, or year? How do you want to feel? Tell me everything over at @hurraykimmay on Instagram so we can say hurray together!

Credits: The photos taken here are by Becky Yee Photo during the #HurrayVacay in Hawaii. We are in Oahu here! As always, zero airbrushing or altering my perfectly imperfect body.