I’ve been reflecting on why last year felt like such a productive one for me, and how I managed to achieve so many of my most important goals. I came up with four lessons that we can all use when setting goals.
The first is to write those goals down, and the second is to always do your best AND to know that’s good enough (and so are you!). For more about these two lessons, please see our previous post.
3. Review, celebrate, and let go
Towards the end of last year, I attended a fire burning ceremony at a local yoga studio. We were to bring our paper calendars and planners (if we had them) and our phones, so we could list the events and projects that stood out for us.
I went through month by month, drawing little hearts above things that were really kind of wonderful, and making notes of things that had a bigger impact than I may have realized at the time. I saw that the year was really centered around a certain type of self-care, with preparing and selling my home, moving, finishing my book, and getting licensed in more states.
For the burning part of the ceremony, the teacher introduced the idea of RUGS (an acronym for regrets, unfinished business, guilt, and shame), asking us to look through our lists for things we wanted or needed to release—including goals and plans we didn’t complete.
We could make one list, or write each item on separate pieces of paper, which we would then burn outside in a fire-safe container.
When the papers didn’t burn right away, I thought, “Oh my gosh, I don’t want to let go of these resentments!” Finally, the pages caught on fire. I realized this was another great way to alleviate resentments or recognize them and know that it’s the beginning of the work on them.
Rituals like this can really help us let go and keep growing, if that’s what we choose to do.
4. Remember: Goals aren’t just for January
There’s so much hoopla at the end of the year about taking stock, and then again in January about starting the year strong and setting your goals and intentions for the entire year. Setting and achieving goals is a continuous process, not linear or marked by a date.
We also have several opportunities during the year. We have our birthdays. We have different holidays. We have the start of the school year. We have a lot of beginnings and opportunities to start fresh. But do we need them?
What about every so often, we just reassess where we’re at and see if there are ways we’d like to grow? I made a lot of changes last year, but I implemented them in steps all through the year. Some were planned, and some unfolded.
Some goals definitely won’t follow the SMART format; they’ll be more open and loose. For example, learning a new skill (maybe by auditing a class), joining a book club, or attending a community workshop. They’re not specific, but seeing them written in my journal puts the ideas out there and raises the antennae in my mind to stay tuned for opportunities. As we write our goals down, it’s like gently giving them to the universe.
And we don’t have to do any of this in January. We have the whole year to explore before reviewing again next December and deciding what we might bring forward.
P.S. Did you miss the first two lessons I shared about setting goals? They’re here in an earlier post.