Goal setting is both an experiment in self-will and predicting the future. If we do X, we’ll get a Y return, or if we add to our savings, we’ll have enough to go on our trip. 2020-2022 showed us that years can be unpredictable, and goals may need to shift as you go along.
So here’s what I propose for 2023. Explore your vision for the person you want to be at the end of 2023 or even 2028 (5-year dreams), and then create your goals based on the feelings, experiences, and type of person you’ll be. Imagine what ‘future you’ does throughout their day. How do they interact with the people around them? What do they do for work? How do they take care of themselves? What do they do for fun? Instead of just adding what you think goals ‘should be’ to your list now, you’ll be moving towards your vision by shifting your habits to feel more aligned with who you are and who you want to be. Here are four themes to explore as you are setting your 2023 goals.
The Way You Are in Relationships
The first instinct may be to say, “I’ll call five people every week.” That’s well and good, but what if you hate talking on the phone? When you envision the future, how do you keep in touch with friends and family in a year or so? Maybe you derive great pleasure from handwriting letters and putting fun stickers on them. Perhaps it feels slower and intentional, and the dash of glitter thrown in to spite your best friend’s husband makes you smile. Maybe it’s emails or a monthly video call time that auto schedules and repeats, so you don’t have to remember each month.
The Way You Work
What kind of work does ‘future you’ do? What do you do now? How could you add more ease, joy, and lightness to your work? The stress of the last few years may have built into a stressful, toxic work environment. If you need to stay there for job security, that’s fine, but then look at what you can control. Just because everyone else is sour grapes doesn’t mean you need to. Just like anxiety is contagious, so are joy and hope. Work goals can be more income, AND they can be intangible goals as well. Sometimes the two go hand-in-hand more than you think.
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Or, maybe your goal is to find a new job. To do so, make a list of what you love, and use ‘future you’ to inspire what would be neat. Then start taking steps to find a job that resonates, whether talking to people, applying, or working on your resume.
The Way You Spend Your Day
Twenty-four hours can go by in the blink of an eye. How do you want to show up in the day-to-day of this year? Do you desire more walks in the forest with your loved ones? More game nights with family? When we set goals, we can look far into the future to develop audacious plans; but we can often lose sight of the small ways we show up in our day-to-day that make a significant impact.
Perhaps you’d like to add sacred time for your faith in the morning or 10 minutes of stretching before bed. Eating a healthy lunch three days a week may be a possible change if you usually go out. Ask yourself what you would like more of in your life, and see if you can’t break it down into small pieces that you can then weave into your daily life.
The Way You Embody Your Self
As much as it may pain you, you aren’t a machine. You need tending, love, compassion, and play. When we remove these from our lives, we become burned out, bitter, resentful, and hopeless. (Which is not the mood we want for 2023). If we know where being ‘hard on ourselves’ leads, can we invite curiosity into how we can better show up for ourselves? What makes you come alive? What brings you joy or makes you feel like you?
For one friend, S, red lipstick makes her feel on top of the world; F has been exploring a new faith practice that feels nourishing; B has started wearing clothes that feel affirming to their body, L got sober, and M recently got his motorcycle license and loves the freedom of Sunday rides. There is a considerable variety of things that help people feel more embodied.
What does this look like for you? Embodying yourself isn’t just a catchy phrase or ‘wouldn’t that be nice’ moment, but it’s an invitation to ask yourself, what would it look like to become more me this year? Where am I hiding or holding back? Can I take any actions to live in deeper alignment with my heart and soul?
Look at what works for you, not what you think should work for you. Can you learn new skills and habits? Absolutely. Can you pick goals others have? Sure! Can you go after your dreams in a way that feels more grounded and genuine for you? Also, yes. It doesn’t have to be either/or. Journal about different ways to go after the things you see in your vision, and pick the ones that light you up.
So here’s to you and 2023. May you feel more you, true, and alive in a way that makes you feel free.
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Written by Aj Smit
Aj Smit is the author of the book Red Thread: Weaving an Embodied Life of Joy, speaker, glitter enthusiast, and professional weaver of Joy. She is a military spouse in S. Korea with a pup and houseplants galore. Aj has led various Red Tents, retreats, and workshops internationally over the last ten years to help others discover how to weave creativity and curiosity into their lives. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram at @TheJoyWeaver and TheJoyWeaver.com