Recently, many of us have come to two realizations: one, that we want to make more time for the things that truly matter to us, and two, that we want to be more present and go with the flow of life.
So, how do you balance establishing goals that keep you focused on where you want to go while enjoying the present and remaining flexible?
The answer is unique to everyone but here are guidelines I’ve found to be extremely helpful in my quest to find balance in this area.
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How to Set Goals with Flow and Flexibility
Focus on intention
When we are always focused on specific external goals with a future pay-off, it can prevent us from living in the present and throw us off when something major gets in the way of those goals.
A simple shift to the intention driving your goals opens up your options and keeps you rooted in the present also while maintaining a forward-thinking focus.
Every goal we set is fueled by a desire for a specific feeling we think it will bring us — happiness, freedom, love, security, creativity, etc.
- What do I want to feel?
- What do I want to experience more of (and less of)?
- What is the deeper purpose I want to fulfill?
This is flexible to any situation because it’s rooted in the feeling, which can manifest in a variety of ways, small and large.
Prioritize the highest value
There are always going to be a million things vying for our attention. There are endless options for what we could focus on at any given moment and that thought alone can be overwhelming.
How do you know what to focus on? This question can be hard to answer without identifying what you value most first.
“Essentialism is not about how to get more things done; it’s about how to get the right things done. It doesn’t mean just doing less for the sake of less either. It is about making the wisest possible investment of your time and energy in order to operate at our highest point of contribution by doing only what is essential.” — Greg McKeown, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less
Prioritizing what truly matters to you and consistently checking in to make sure your choices are aligning with those priorities is key. Not only will you be able to spend your time more wisely and ensure that you’re always moving toward what matters most to you, but you’ll also avoid burnout and overwhelm.
Set only a few “big” goals
Every year, I used to love to set a long list of goals for each area of my life. While this works for some people, it always left me feeling like I was racing from one target to the next and when life inevitably got in the way or I wanted to change course, it was a lot harder to do so.
This year, I’ve set only a few “big” annual goals (like publishing my book and growing my business). They’re enough to give me a guiding light without making me feel boxed in.
You can break those down into smaller goals every month to will give you some targets to focus on. Be sure to refer to the intentions you’ve set, too, to make sure you’re making decisions aligned with what you truly value.
Be willing to pivot
When something no longer feels aligned with what you want, allow yourself to release it and change course, even if you’ve put a lot of work into it. Don’t force yourself to stick with something that is no longer serving you.
This doesn’t mean to give up when things get hard (because they will) but rather to give yourself permission to let go of what you no longer connect with and has become a roadblock rather than a stepping stone to your happiness.
We tend to overvalue the things we have sunk a lot of time and effort into even if we no longer feel in our gut that they’re right for us. Sticking with a goal that doesn’t feel right and trying to force it to work is what truly wastes precious time and energy.
Whatever experiences you’ve had were worth it because you’ve undoubtedly learned something along the way, even if it was just discovering things about yourself and what you truly want. Let your goals be fluid and evolve with you.
Create habits and systems
In order to have the freedom to follow creative impulses without going completely off course, habits and systems are vital. They support your lifestyle and what you want to accomplish by taking away some of the heavy-lifting from your mental reservoir, giving you more room to be creative and think on your feet.
Habits allow us to do certain things on autopilot so they don’t pull from our reservoir of mental energy. We can avoid decision fatigue and create space for creativity in other areas when our basic needs are met, such as cultivating a habit to do yoga every morning for 20 minutes before breakfast to make sure you’ve taken care of your body before your day begins.
Instead of having to consciously decide each day where you’ll fit it in, having a set habit cuts out having to make that decision daily and keeps you from losing track of something that’s important to you.
Systems also help us conserve mental energy and work more efficiently. An example of this is “batching” where you focus on one type of work each day to improve focus and time management (such as doing all of your meetings on Mondays, writing on Tuesdays, administration work on Wednesdays, etc).
The concept behind batching is that switching between different modes for different tasks consumes more energy, so it can make things a lot easier if you stick to one type of work each day in order to get into a groove and take advantage of the momentum.
While this particular system may not be the right one for you, figuring out which ones are will significantly reduce overwhelm and burnout.
|Follow these tips to remain focused and aligned on the path toward where you want to go while leaving yourself some flexibility for the unknown. To keep track of your goals, intentions, and habits in an intuitive way, grab my Goal Planner Printable Bundle that comes with everything you need.|