Simple goal setting for a new year

my story Jan 12, 2013

I am the type of person who sets goals and spends a fair amount of time working toward accomplishing them. As I become more awake to the present, I am noticing that this has translated to living in a mode of striving most of the time. And since I am consciously trying to move out of a world of scarcity and into possibility, I would like to set out a little differently this year.

Setting achievable and challenging goals is not easy to do in a personal or professional setting. Goal setting is an important tool that organizations use to align individual action with a corporate strategy. According to the working paper entitled, Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting from Harvard Business School in 2009, "Hundreds of studies conducted in numerous countries and contexts have consistently demonstrated that setting specific, challenging goals can powerfully drive behavior and boost performance."

However, the paper goes on to explain that it is possible for goals to be too narrow or specific and that it is dangerous to set too many goals. The paper "argue[s] that the beneficial effects of goal setting have been overstated and that systematic harm caused by goal setting has been largely ignored. We identify specific side effects associated with goal setting, including a narrow focus that neglects non-goal areas, a rise in unethical behavior, distorted risk preferences, corrosion of organizational culture, and reduced intrinsic motivation."

One response to these concerns is to set one goal at a time. Leo Babauta, author of the zenhabits blog, offers his thoughts on setting really simple goals: keep things simple, pick one thing that will change your life, create a personal mantra, and focus on shorter-term actions to make that goal a reality.

I am convinced that to be a good leader - one who sets out to change the world - you have to be willing to live with your whole heart. That requires a degree of authenticity and the courage to be vulnerable. It is characterized by a leadership style that is inviting and it operates from an openness to possibility. It requires that a leader is committed to nourishing her whole self.

At the end of 2012, Fast Company published an article promoting the importance of self-care entitled 6 Simple Rituals To Reach Your Potential Every Day. It argued that the secret to performing at the highest level is taking care of yourself by drinking enough water, prioritizing, taking breaks, getting exercise, expressing gratitude, and reflecting daily.

Brene Brown, a vulnerability researcher and motivational speaker, shares what she's learned from 10 years of research and her own spiritual awakening in the book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Letting Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are. "I heard stories about the power of embracing imperfection and vulnerability. I learned about the inextricable connection between joy and gratitude, and how things that I take for granted, like rest and play, are as vital to our health as nutrition and exercise." She also shared these thoughts on living with your whole heart, that offer some practical ideas to  get started on a path of authenticity.


If you would like to dive into this topic more, Brene also shares an awesome perspective on her research into connection and vulnerability in this interview and two amazing TED talks.

While I have many things I would like to work on in 2013, I have chosen to focus on one little word and explore what it means throughout the year: whole.  My intention is to continue to make progress on my journey to restoring my body to whole health, and to pursue wholehearted living this year.  I've had great success the past two years setting my intention for the year with one little word and I cannot wait to see where it takes me this time!


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