Part 1: A Guide to Setting Realistic Goals for the New Year

Part 1: A Guide to Setting Realistic Goals for the New Year

As we bid farewell to 2023 and welcome 2024, it's the perfect time to start reflecting and setting the stage for a promising year ahead. Contrary to popular sentiment, at Mi BOWL we don’t believe the new year is a blank canvas. Often people approach goal-setting for the new year with the spirit of an “I can do it” attitude that exudes a blind optimism and sense of motivation that isn’t reflective of reality. We believe this is why so many people fall off their new year resolutions and goals by the third month of the year. Why not approach new year goal setting in a more realistic manner? In this blog, we'll take you through the first two steps of a guided goal-setting journey. We believe in an approach that’s pragmatic and acknowledges that everybody requires some personalized conditions for success. 

Before you begin, make sure you’re in a comfortable space where you’re able to focus and tune into your thoughts. For this to be effective, please also make sure you have something to write with and a notepad. Ready? Let’s begin. 

Step 1: Reflect & Acknowledge

Reflecting is always a good starting point for framing our understanding of ourselves, and from there we can consciously create the conditions for our envisioned future. For example, if a moment you felt really happy was the second right after you pushed through a 15-minute long run, let’s strive to create more of those moments in 2024. Or, if you struggle with public speaking and had to give presentations at work or school that you found very challenging, let’s reflect on how those presentations went. What did you do to support yourself through those presentations? What worked? What didn’t work? How could you better support yourself in 2024? 

The most important part about the reflective process is to gain a stronger understanding of what worked and didn’t work for you this year. By focusing on how you felt in defining moments of the year, you can gather a lot of data about yourself to inform how you approach the upcoming year. After all, you’re the one setting the goals so you need to adapt your goal-setting to reflect encouraging and supportive conditions for you to succeed. 

Let’s take a moment to reflect on how this year has gone for you. Consider the following questions and feel free to jot down some notes. 

  • What are the top three most memorable moments for you in 2023? Why were they memorable, and how did you feel in those moments? 
  • What is a challenge that you were faced with this year? Why was it challenging and how did you manage it? 
  • Did you do anything that you were proud of? What was it, and why?  
  • Is there a specific goal you were able to accomplish? If not, why not? 
  • Was there anything unexpected that happened this year? What was it? 
  • What are some moments that you felt truly happy? Why? 

Don’t worry if you find that some of your answers are repetitive. These questions are meant to draw out the major themes and surface your patterns of behaviour and feelings. The goal of this reflection is to better understand who you are as a person because setting your goals for the upcoming year needs to be done with that in mind. 

Step 2. Intention-Setting for 2024

The objective of the first step is to reconnect with yourself and consider how things went in 2023. In step two, we’re going to turn our attention to identifying the feelings that we’d like to experience in 2024. Let’s consider setting intentions rather than resolutions. While resolutions are “firm decisions to do or not to do something,” intentions are “aims or plans” to do or not to do something. The difference is subtle, but important. 

Resolutions are made when we commit our minds to an action or goal. This can often be done devoid of aligning it with our purpose, values, and what actually works for us. Reframing our new year goals into intentions allows us to set ourselves on the path of doing the things we want to or aspire to do. Executing on intentions can ensure that your way of being follows your desired goals, which can lead to more sustainable outcomes on your overall lifestyle. Let’s walk through an example (you may skip the next few paragraphs but we highly encourage you to read through to understand the difference in resolution versus intention-setting.)

Context: Janet exercised twice a week in 2023 and gained a few pounds throughout the year. She’s not happy with how her body looks. When new year rolls around, she sets a goal to address how she’s feeling. 

  • New Year Resolution Approach: Be beach body ready (i.e., lose 10 pounds) by the summer by going to the gym five times a week and reducing caloric intake by 300 calories a day.  
  • Intention Approach: I’d like to live a more active lifestyle because I feel great when I’m on the move. 

In both cases, the approach is the message that she’s telling yourself as she’s thinking about herself and her body. In the first approach, Janet may be thinking “If I go to the gym five times a week and reduce my caloric intake by 300 calories a day, I’ll lose 10 pounds by the summer, feel, and look great!” In the second approach, she’s likely thinking “I feel great when I’m moving.” Which approach do you think encourages a longer term commitment? 

When we set intentions, we set ourselves in the path of the way that we’d like to be living. That then informs and frames how you live your life, while also providing you with the flexibility to learn more about what works and what doesn’t work for you as you go. In the Intention approach, Janet keeps herself moving because she understands that moving regularly feels good for her. So, she finds herself looking for ways to keep herself moving and integrating more active approaches to her way of living. There are many ways this may take form. For example, she may do this by going to the gym more, doing a daily stretch, getting up from her seat every 30 min, going for a brisk walk over lunch, etc. She may find she especially likes being outdoors and despises the feeling of being in a gym, which may spur her to change up her exercise routine. Throughout the year, she fine-tunes what works for her, leading to a more sustainable change in her behaviour over the long-term. 

Now that we’ve clarified the difference between the two approaches, it’s time for you to get down to business. In the series of guided questions below, we walk you through a series of questions that help you identify how you want to feel, what you want to experience, and the person you want to become. You may find yourself thinking of the moments from 2023 as a grounding point and a place to build from to answer this series. Take some time to answer the following questions.

  • How would you like to feel in 2024? What do you believe you’d need to experience or do in order to feel that way?
  • Based on your reflections on your most challenging moments, what do you think would be some areas for personal development in 2024?
  • When you look back on the year at the end of 2024, what would you like to be able to say that you’ve done? 
  • At the end of 2024, how would you like your loved ones and friends to describe you? What are some things you feel you’d need to do in order to be described that way? 
  • Based on your answers to the questions above, what are three key goal areas that you’d like to focus on in 2024? Examples: public speaking, lose weight, be more active, make more money, improve relationships with family and friends, etc. 

Let’s summarize what we did together - in steps one and two of this process, we took you through a reflective exercise where you considered the most memorable moments of 2023 (good and bad). We also took you through reflective questions to get you thinking about the intentions you’d like to set for yourself in 2024. We finish off step two by asking you to identify three key goals areas that you’d like to focus on. If you’re having a hard time narrowing down your goal areas, remember it’s important to prioritize and focus rather than spread yourself too thin. 

The first two steps are just the starting point for setting realistic goals for the upcoming year though. Stay tuned for our next blog where we’ll walk you through the last steps of this process. This is where we’ll convert those intentions into systems for success. We promise this will set you up for a stronger, more resilient, and better you in 2024!  

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