How can we have a mindful relationship to goal setting?
When one is setting a goal, you can use mindfulness to check in with yourself to see what is it that actually inspires me about this goal? Is it a sense of what I’m going to get once I achieve it? Is it an excitement for the process? As you’re reflecting, you may notice that the only reason you want to attain this goal is because of a certain pressure placed on you by someone else. Or you may see that you only want to attain this goal because you’ve culturally conditioned to believe once I have “that” then I’ll be happy. Or maybe you get MORE in touch with all of the positive reasons why you want to achieve this goal. Whatever the case may be, a period of mindful reflection may help clarify why you want this goal in the first place and whether or not it’s aligned with your values and heart.
When you start moving toward your goal, mindfulness can help you monitor and accept/dismiss any positive or self-defeating thoughts that promote/hinder action toward that goal. When the process gets difficult, the mind can recite narratives such as “I can’t do this” “It’s too tough” “it would be much easier to just give up.” In these moments, you can use mindful awareness to notice the thoughts arise, but see that they’re only arising because it’s getting difficult. There is no objective truth to these thoughts; it’s just the brain trying to keep you safe by avoiding what it perceives to be too painful. By not taking those thoughts seriously, we can continue moving toward our objective.
And lastly, as it relates to attainment/non-attainment. Sometimes we don’t reach our goals. Reflect on what you learned in the process, how it helped you grow, and how it may serve you toward your next goal.
If you do achieve your goal, It’s definitely worth celebrating! But notice if all of your satisfaction in the goal setting process came from JUST attaining that goal. If we set our entire lives up to only be satisfied in these micro moments when we achieve these goals, we may end up missing out on many moments of life. Try to create goals that excite you about the actual process of attaining them.