I love the intentionality that comes with clarifying expectations and desires. I appreciate the opportunity to pause, especially after a few weeks into a new year, when I am a somewhat grounded and have some momentum, from which aspirations more naturally arise. Lately I’ve been thinking about goals – what they represent, why they are important, how they serve us, how to make them meaningful.
Goals support us in aligning our energy with important objectives. Goals are intentions, and when captured and shared, begin propelling us in the direction we want to go. They enable us to move with meaning and purpose. Goals require us to dream, to pause and envision the future. Great goals come from slowing down and reflecting on what’s possible.
To create meaningful goals that put us in action, it’s helpful to engage a variety of senses. Of course, we have to use our heads and think. It’s to also valuable to engage our hearts and feel. Like many things in life, there’s a big A.N.D. – it’s about our heads and our hearts, it’s about thinking and feeling.
When setting goals, be they personal or professional, applying a process that engages us fully is optimal. We can use our heads, gathering input, analyzing data, organizing information, writing stuff down. And we can bring our hearts along. Maybe we explore what being in movement contributes – it could be as simple as going for a walk and getting outside where nature can inspire you. Maybe we explore what opening to our feelings creates – perhaps call a friend or talk to your dog or cat, or journal or read an inspiring book to tune into what energizes you and awakens your passions.
Having meaningful goals – goals with a clear purpose – makes all the difference. How are our goals important? How do they align with a larger strategy? Work is, well, work. And much of the time, to do it requires us to act very tactically, to be quite operational. When these activities are connected to the greater good to which they are of service, it’s easier to find joy in our work. The result? We approach our responsibilities with greater passion, hope, and energy. We bring a positive, forward-propelling attitude. The inspiring story of the three bricklayers makes the point well.
Goals without meaning are just tasks, actions that we often move through like a list, checking them off one by one, from a place of doing, without fully experiencing what is happening. That’s missed opportunity. When we are awake to what’s going on as we engage with the world, that’s when we make new connections, what enlivens our creative energy, inspires us to new heights. It can be helpful to give some consideration to how we want to show up as we execute against our goals – and to make that part of our goals. For example, we might ask: who we are, what makes us feel alive, what are our strengths, how do we best engage with the world?
One of my immediate goals at work is to design a mindfulness campaign in partnership with our health organization. I’ll be pulling together a program, identifying resources, engaging collaborators, developing plans, leading meetings, and more. What will keep me motivated as I complete the varied tactical responsibilities is the fact that I am being of service to my colleagues’ health and wellness and supporting individuals in bringing their very best to their work and lives. As I complete my work, I want to be collaborative, social, and agile; I want to fully engage, continuously learn, and be of service to others.
I’ve captured some questions to use when pausing to consider our intentions:
- What are my goals?
- What will I give my attention?
- How are the goals meaningful to me?
- How do they focus my energy?
- What outcomes will be created through my actions?
- How will I show up to deliver against these goals?
- How will I capture and share them?
- When will I pause to see how I am doing?
- Who can I ask for support and feedback?
* I took the photo in Kruja, Albania in June 2014.