Setting Goals From the Inside Out

I don’t know about you, but when those year-end magazine issues appear on the newsstands, a feeling of dread comes over me. I know that I will begin to look back and assess the year according to what I did or did not get around to. I will review the best and worst moments and feel guilty for time lost or time ill spent.

My feeling of dread really sinks in when I review my to-do list. I find it interesting that the items left undone are those I am not passionate about or invested in. Further, these items are not linked to any of my goals, but put on the list out of a responsibility to act. Responsibility is the ability to respond to external ques that may or may not be in alignment with our core values.

This process can be especially tortuous for moms who often feel responsible for the mishaps, unfinished projects and missed opportunities of the entire family. Somewhere along the line many of us shift our focus and adopt goals that may not be truly ours. We change our goals to fit in, to get ahead, to look good or to hide. When goals are created from the expectations of others (from the “outside in”), even when we reach them we may still feel unfulfilled.

In order to feel fulfilled when we reach our goals, we must do two things: (1) set our goals from the “inside out” and (2) let go of the outcome of these goals. Setting goals and telling others about them is a powerful way to attract the things that you desire in your life. The more your goals represent your dreams and are rooted in your core values, the easier they will be to achieve. I call these “resonant goals.” Resonant goals are set from the inside out and attract the resources that you need most.

To set resonant goals we must answer the following questions:
1. What are our core values?
2. What do we truly need to be happy?

1. Core values are at the heart of your moral conduct and are unique for each individual. Core values identify objects, conditions or characteristics that one considers important and useful when making decisions in your life. Make a list of your core values or the core values of your family system (Typically people hold 6-10 core values). Examples include: Integrity, health, education, and financial independence.

2. Happiness is a state of being that is defined by each individual. Think about the times in your life when you were genuinely happy. What was it about that happy state that you remember most? Determine what or who helped create that state of happiness. An easy exercise is to write (without thought or judgment) what makes you happy. You can do this for 4-5 minutes and come up with a long list that may surprise you.

Once you know what your core values are and what makes you happy, it will be easy to set resonant goals. For example, I value creativity and know that this requires time alone to ruminate. My goal would be to have a regular night to myself to get in touch with my creativity.

After you’ve identified these goals, the last step is to let go of the outcome. This is a process of surrender where you must hold the intention of attaining your goal without basing your happiness on it’s outcome. For example, if my goal is to have a night for myself once per week, I will still be happy to come home to a messy house and a child who ate pizza for dinner again! For many, this is the true test. With practice and effort you will find that letting go of the outcome creates true freedom.

Wishing you the very best in 2011
May your passions be ignited and your goals be resonant

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  • Mandy January 11, 2010  

    Great blog entry Laura! My first goal is to make time to sit and do this for myself!

  • ezlifecoach January 14, 2010  

    You are so right on, Laura! I took the 10 or so minutes to do your suggested exercises and already I feel happier. This happiness comes from the instant resonance I feel in knowing that my values and what makes me happy are aligned…and I REALLY do know what I want and what I stand for. Now…the next step of using this information to clean-up my to-do list should be enlightening! I was just sharing with a church group last night how the competing “priorities” in life are overwhelming. There are those tasks that we really don’t want to do (i.e. cleaning toilets, paying bills or going to the grocery store). I’m thinking that if I tie one of my values to these undesirable tasks and perhaps a reward from the “what makes me happy list” then the undesirables will be much more pleasant, and probably done much quicker! Any other suggestions for those things we don’t really want to do, but have responsibility for them getting done?

  • Laura Riordan January 14, 2010  

    Thanks Emily. I love the idea of taking some of the tasks that you don’t want to do and aligning them with your values. And yes, creating a “happiness reward” will make tasks with little intrinsic happiness much more doable. For instance if you hold a core value of health and understand that good food supports this value, you will enjoy finding nutritious food at the grocery store. And maybe you could find a particular fruit in season or specialty food that make you happy and buy that too! I will have to think more about the toilet cleaning…. Another suggestion to get undesirable tasks done is to share the responsibility with others. Make sure that the chores in your household are divided among the members equally. This way when you are working on an undesirable task you will know that your partner or housemates are also pitching in to create a healthy and harmonious home.

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