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B081: How to set life goals with simplicity

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Do you know how to set life goals with simplicity? My conversation with Danielle LaPorte earlier this week really stirred something new in me, and I want to share it with you.

Raise your hand if you’re at a crossroads in your life right now. It may look like one of these scenarios:

  • Maybe you’re feeling like your line of work lacks meaning or purpose… chugging along, going through the motions but not feeling like it really lights you up anymore?
  • You could be feeling an inexplicable emptiness inside you… that no food, drink, or buying more stuff can truly fill?
  • Or you feel you ‘should’ (I hate that word) be further along than you already are at this age? Life is slipping by and you’re caught in the hamster wheel attempting to catch up but getting nowhere fast

None of that feels good, eh?

Not one bit.

So how do we flip the script? We need to move in the right direction, and here’s how…

Set life goals with simplicity

If the aim is to bring about deep contentment and get your light shining bright once again, I think it boils down to these three things:

1. Tap into your ‘Inner Senior’ wisdom

I turned 42 this week. That number may seem insignificant to most people, but for me, I’m starting to think I might be halfway done with my life this go ‘round. (Jeez, that’s a real morbid thought, Mary!)

No but really.

42 year old Mary certainly knows a heck of a lot more than 22 year old Mary who was just getting her feet wet with her career, post college.

In the podcast, Danielle and I spoke about inner child work and how it’s important to listen to your 8 year old self to begin to heal past wounds. And while that’s important, I’m also starting to wonder if my future self already sits inside me, and if I can tap into that?

I’m talking about My ‘Inner Senior’ self, as in the 82 year old version of Mary. That wise, kind-hearted, warm, worldly version of me that’s been through all of life’s trials and tribulations: past, present, and future.

That loving voice (which is present in all of us) knows exactly how everything is going to play out. It’s that calm, centered whisper in your heart that wants to lead you towards your Core Desired Feelings, and towards deep contentment and joy.

What would your inner wisdom say to you in this moment?

It’s time to ask her.

Before you set a life goal, pursue a dream, or quit that soul-sucking job, do this first. Ask your 82 year old self for a little bit of wisdom on this decision:

“Is this goal the right one for me to pursue, in this chapter of my life?”

Situate yourself somewhere where there are no distractions or any chance of interruptions. It could be a quiet park bench in the sunshine, or your happy place nearby? You could brew up a green tea and take a walk with your Inner Senior.

Ask her for wisdom on how to set the right life goal, and listen to how she guides you. Gain clarity here first before taking the leap.

2. ‘Witness your weather’

Recently, I’ve had the pleasure of studying and practicing movement under dancer and activist, Katye Coe.

In these dance classes, Katye talks a lot about “Witnessing your weather.” I translated this as understanding the wave of emotions and feelings, that blow in and out at a moment’s notice. (And boy howdy, my weather blows in fast and fierce, sometimes!!)

When you witness your weather, you’re able to take a step back, watch it sweep in, acknowledge it, follow it and see where it takes you next. That might translate in big, sweeping leaps. Or it might be the tiniest tinkle of movement from your fingers, while dancing.

And I also think this analogy translates beautifully when I’m crafting my own life goals. Many times, we fall into the trap of getting swept under by big emotions (such as sadness, stress, or feelings of utter overwhelm.)

The weather drenches us, and we find ourselves slipping, losing hope, or at worst, catastrophizing our current situation.

“Everything is a mess! This is useless… I’m useless! It’ll never get better. Let’s set it all on fire!”

(Or is that just me?)

But what Katye recommends is this:

Instead of basing your identity on constantly changing emotions, simply “Witness your weather.”

In essence, see what bubbles up in your state of fear and overwhelm. Or on the flip side, what bubbles up when you feel delicious joy and elation? Follow it. Observe it. Learn from it. Go deeper… and then move on.

An exercise to test out new life goals

Set a 7-minute timer

Jot down the life goals you might want to pursue

Take 2 or 3 that really excite you and go deeper…

Watch the weather of emotions brewing when you visualize yourself working towards that goal.

Is there a tornado of fear, or a feeling of tumultuous storms?

Does it light you up or bring that exciting, electric, fizzy feeling inside your belly, heart or head?

Notice what comes up and jot down any visions you see when you dig deep.

Tell me about your weather, and decide if this feels aligned with how you want to feel. Is it a goal that you want to pursue right now in your life… or not. If this soul-work feels big and scary to you right now, give yourself a little grace and tenderness. And as Katye says, “When in doubt… breathe out.”

3. Less is more when setting life goals

By now, you know this is a core belief of mine and the entire team at The Simplifiers. More does not always equal better. More (sometimes) equals insanity, overwhelm and unnecessary stress.

Also, if your attention is split in 10 ways simultaneously⁠—rather than laser-focusing in on 1 or 2⁠—you’re setting yourself up for failure. By splitting your time, money, energy and resources too much, you’ll dilute your efforts, and receive subpar results.

So, my best advice on how to set life goals, is to keep it simple.

Where can you simplify? What can you do less of?

Set one goal per month

In the year ahead, I want you to set one goal or focus per month. Just one. Make it bite-sized, and singularly focused, so you can take daily action towards it. Maybe one month you focus on your health. And then another month, you zoom in on your finances. Set it up as a 30/31 day challenge and make a game of it. Use Wheel of Life – a Self-Assessment Tool as inspiration to help figure out your monthly themes, goals and challenges.

Thank you to our friends over at The Start of Happiness for this resource.

Here’s a jumping off point for your 12 monthly themes:

  1. business/career
  2. finance and wealth
  3. health and fitness
  4. family
  5. friends
  6. romance
  7. making a contribution to others and the world
  8. personal growth
  9. fun and recreation
  10. your physical environment
  11. spirituality
  12. self-image

What new ideas are sparked by this prompt?

One final whisper

The beauty of life, is that you get to choose. You always have a choice, even when things seem particularly dim or dark.

It will never be perfect, and it most certainly will be messy. If you anchor this belief down first, you’ll build in the grace you’ll need to get to where you want to go.

Remember Danielle’s wisdom from The Desire Map

How do you want to feel?

These are your Core Desired Feelings.

Once those are set… what are you going to do, in order to feel the way you want to feel?

It’s as simple as that.

Don’t overcomplicate it, my friend.

What you seek is totally within your reach.

You can do this, I believe in you.

It’s time to SIMPLIFY.

If this thought of the day inspired you…

Don’t forget to hit that SUBSCRIBE button (in your podcast player) to get more of this awesome goodness coming to you automatically on Tuesdays and Fridays…

Thank you!

Show credits: Suzen Marie, our Podcast Editor. Jeffrey Lynn, our Video Editor. Lyden and Janine Yardley, our Show Notes Editors. Manminder Athwal, our Blogger. Aubri Nowowiejski, Chris Justice and George Mills, our advisory board. And I’m your host, Mary Baird-Wilcock. Thank you so much for joining us.

As always friends, keep things simple.

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