This piece is part of our January Jumpstart Miniseries. Although a new year might not necessarily mean becoming a new you, it most definitely means new opportunities for you to do things to astound and impress yourself. All month long, we’ll be speaking with lauded and recognized women across industries about how you can activate the personal goals you might have been putting off for a while.
Can you believe it’s 2023 already? This year has flown by and if you’re anything like me then you’re probably beginning to consider what you want 2023 to look like.
Last year, I wrote the blog post Revisiting Goals Set By You and Your Therapist in 2020. At that time we were in what I like to call season one of the pandemic. Setting goals for 2021 felt like a futile task because we had no idea how long this pandemic would last and if there would be any end in sight. We were also still adjusting to living with Covid as a constant threat and all the variants that came with it. January 2023 will be two years since that blog was published and a lot has changed since then. Though Covid still exists, it feels as though life has settled into a new normal. So I think it’s time for us to re-evaluate our goals as we prepare for the new year. In order to do so, here are a few suggestions:
Define your values
An exercise that I like to do with my clients is one that helps them identify their core values. Since our goals are often influenced by what we value, it’s important to have a clear understanding of what is important to you. That way you can decide what you would like to work towards. I would suggest doing a simple google search of a list of values, and printing them out. Then circling eight that really resonate with you. After you pick your eight, I challenge you to shrink the list down to five values that are most important to you. After you have your five, rank them in order of importance. This part is essential in the event that you find yourself in a situation where two of your values are in conflict with each other. For example, if I have honesty as a higher priority than financial stability and I was offered $1,000 to cover up an issue at work, I would default to honesty being my highest priority, and decline the bribe. After you’ve ranked your top five values, it’s time to define them. So for each value, write what it means to you, and what behaviors or actions would be examples of putting the value into practice. For instance, if honesty is one of my values, I would define it as being truthful about my emotions and behaviors at all times. Actions would include checking in with myself on a regular basis about how I’m feeling, being a trustworthy person, and communicating my thoughts and feelings in an honest and gentle way. Once you have your top five goals, it’s time for some self reflection. Take some time to examine if how you’re currently living aligns with what you say you value. If so, great. Keep up the good work! But if not, then that can be the beginning of creating new goals for 2023. Focus on what changes or small action items you can do that would help you to align with your principles.
Revisit and Re-Evaluate Past Goals
2020 was a rough year for most of us, especially for the Black community. We mourned the loss of thousands of people due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Not to mention the loss of icons for our culture (Kobe Bryant, Pop Smoke, Chadwick Boseman, and more) and heightened tensions in social justice with the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery. In addition, people were laid off, stuck in the house, and unsure what the rest of the year would bring. It’s understandable that whatever you had dreamed for yourself, might not have felt possible at that time. Or you didn’t even have the mental capacity to think of the future, because the present was so heavy. Were there goals that you had set for yourself in 2020, that you had to put on hold? Now that life has found a new sense of normalcy, does it feel possible to revisit them? Start to think of what your life could look like if you were to do so. As you look back on 2020, 2021 and 2022, are there any lessons from the past that you’ve learned and can apply to the present? Consider the challenges you’ve overcome that have molded you into who you are today. Were there goals that you created and were able to accomplish, but didn’t feel as satisfying as you expected when you did? Evaluate what value correlated with that previous goal and if it is still a value for you now. As I stated in my previously mentioned blog post, we live in a society that allows us to constantly compare ourselves to others. We have created these timelines and expectations of what we need to have done by a certain age. It seems we have turned birthdays and new years, which are milestones, into deadlines. So make sure the goals that you choose to revisit are parallel to the person you are becoming, and not who you feel pressured to be.
Give yourself permission to create new goals
If you’ve revisited past goals and realize that what once was an achievement or intention you were striving for, no longer matters to you then please know that is ok too. Two years have passed, and in that time I’m sure you have changed and grown as a person. Not to mention, life circumstances may have shifted as well. During Covid a lot of people altered their career aspirations, opened a business, or started a family. Those are all huge life transitions which require a new mindset. Speaking for myself, in 2020 I would not have imagined that I would be a business owner with a successful private practice. So the goals that I had for my career back then look completely different from what I will want for myself next year. Give yourself permission to think out of the box and establish goals that match where you’re at currently and what you want for your future. In addition to permission, give yourself grace. You may need time to mourn past ideals that no longer serve you and find ways to honor yourself. Maybe that looks like revisiting a past vision board, creating a new vision board, or using some of the questions I’ve asked as journal prompts so that you can process your emotions. There’s no wrong way to construct a new game plan for yourself. All I ask is that you just make sure your goals are not solely based on tangible achievements. We get caught up in the “I’ll be happy when ____” mindset or “once I earn _____, then I’ll be ok.” While there is nothing wrong with wanting to achieve certain milestones and accolades, be careful to not base your worth on the completion of those targets. You are more than your productivity and what you do in your work or for others. Setting intentions to give your best each day, be present, disciplined, or compassionate can all be goals as well that don’t have to be measured by tangible success. Focus on the person you envision yourself being as a whole, and then your goals can be those small daily habits you can begin to do, that get you there.