Goal Setting

Committing to Self-Care, Small Shifts & Realistic Goals

So, it’s 2021.  I think it’s safe to say that everyone is happy to say good-bye to 2020.   To be honest, I had some of my most powerful AHA moments this past year.  2020 for sure made me look at the world and the people in it differently.  It also forced me to appreciate the small things I was taking for granted including myself!

I have to admit, I love the symbolism of a new year.  However, in the past it has caused me anxiety because of the whole new year’s resolution thing.  Fact is most new year’s resolutions fail.  There are several reasons why, but I think it boils down to three reasons:



And they are POORLY DEVISED.

Like many, I have set too many resolutions that were never realized.  That was until last year.  Instead of picking some obscure goal, I devised a plan that focused on self-love, small changes and realistic goal setting.  Here’s my advice:


A lot of people devise and choose goals that are misaligned and that’s why they don’t ever stick or work.  We pick goals that we think check off all the boxes when it comes to health and wellness and what we’re supposed to be and do.  But then why do we not stick with them? Because its hard work rewiring and reinventing oneself.  One small goal means changing multiple maladaptive habits and behaviours, let alone a reformed mindset that we are a priority.

We are not successful at yearly resolutions because we’re often not ready for the magnitude of energy it takes to make one change in our life.  Not only does it take time, effort and energy, it takes LOVE.  And I don’t know about you, but this is a department I find most people are severely understaffed in.

When we put all of our time and attention into everything and everyone else, there is little time for ourselves.  Let’s be real for a moment – few of us love and care for ourselves the way we should.  So, when we set a goal, we really need to get to the root of our why – which really is about cultivating and putting ourselves on the top of our priority list.

How do I know this is what you need?  For two reasons: 1) Everyone needs more self-love – period.  And 2) If you were on your priority list, you wouldn’t need to devise a yearly resolution to make a change in your life because you would already be practicing it daily.  If you feel as though you need to make a change – it’s a sign that you need LOVE and ATTENTION to fulfill your needs and your goals (because you’ve likely been helping everyone else with there’s!). 

Focus on Small Shifts

We live in an age built on instant reward and gratification.  But the truth of the matter is if you are looking to change any aspect of your life big or small, it’s going to take time. Where we’re at today is the result of habits, choices, and a lifestyle that has accumulated over time.  So, it’s going to take more than a day or two to get to the where you want to be because it doesnt happen overnight.

The truth is and I know it’s not the sexy answer you want to hear, but lasting change happens in small changes that cause shifts that build momentum to lasting transformation and the outcome you are searching for.  To be successful, you have to let go of the “want it now” mindset and dive into small shifts in thinking and action that are achievable, realistic and less intimidating.  Which means you’ve got to BE REAL when setting your goals – short-term and long-term ones.

Set Realistic Goals

Whatever you’re looking to make happen in your life, you’ve got to focus your energy, direct your intentions and set achievable, realistic goals that allow you to be successful.  Too often we get stuck on the end result and berate ourselves when we don’t get there.  It’s usually because of two reasons.  We have unrealistic expectations and underestimate the effort it takes to make change happen.

The secret of change is focused, directed energy.  Change happens by focusing our energy on deliberate thoughts and behaviours, making new and different choices and taking action.  Any change is difficult in the beginning and really messy, frustrating and challenging in the midst of it.  But when you set attainable goals in small intervals, you are more likely to experience the best part of change once you have achieved it.

The best way to set goals are to:

Know Your Why

Know why you want to make the change.  Why is it important enough for you to spend your time and effort (and all the hard soul work) to achieve it.  And don’t rely exclusively on external benefits or motivators.  Dig deeper and ask yourself how it will make you feel inside.  For instance, most people want to lose weight because they want to look better.  If you only focus on external factors, then you’re missing the mark and not getting to the root of why you feel the need to look better or feel as though you are not good enough as is.  Instead, reflect and connect your goal with a meaningful outcome that inspires compassion, courage and connection with yourself.

Be Specific

Once you know your why, get specific about what you want to accomplish.  Think small and achievable.  Refrain from jumping off the deep-end and trying to rework every aspect of your life.  That isn’t realistic.  Instead, focus on one health practice like developing healthful sleep hygiene and getting adequate rest.  Rather than having to completely make over your overall health, focus on one piece of it at a time.  Once you have successfully put one goal into habit, add a new one that is equally health promoting.

Find Your Motivation

Your motivation is deeply tied to your why.  Your why has to be authentically rooted because it is what is going to motivate you to stick with your goal and see it through.  When we are intrinsically motivated, we act from a genuine place that’s not focused on external reward.  Instead, we are motivated from the inside out rather than from a place or pressure to do it or for an outer prize.  When you are motivated from inside and from all the right reasons, you are more likely to achieve your goals and maintain them.

Find Your Accountability

Once you’ve decided on a goal, commit and make it public.  Sharing your intention with those you surround yourself with can help provide the extra support you will need (because any change is hard!) and the accountability that will encourage you to keep going with the plan you’ve created.  Ask your best friend to check-in with you once or twice a week.  Whatever it takes to get to where you want to be.

Make a Timeline

I hate deadlines because in my mind, change is not something that can be accomplished by a set date because it organically happens.  And I also know that some of the changes we want to put in place are not achieved in a way that can be conveniently checked off in a box; rather they are a process and part of a greater life journey.

However, it would be ignorant of me to discount that goals are helped by timelines.  Fact is goals are more successfully achieved, if they have a set deadline.  Determine what a realistic timeline is for your goal and pick a reasonable date that isn’t too far off.  Then break the timeline down into smaller increments so you can measure your progress by the small shifts you make.

Mark the Occasion

When you make a shift in your life and it leads to a purposeful change, it’s important to mark the occasion and all the hard work you put into showing up in your life in a new and different way.  When you change something, it needs to be acknowledged, so take the time to give yourself the credit and do something that motivates you to continue designing the life you want.


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Joanne Smith (a.k.a. Joanne Freeborn) is a Transformational Wellness Leader who supports women realign their mental, physical and spiritual lives.  She educates and coaches using immersive self-healing techniques that align and transform health and wellness, while paving the path to a deeper connection with Self.

 For more information, visit: www.alignedhealingarts.ca

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