Insights: Setting Goals for the New Year

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Goals setting concept in tag cloudA time that is meant to be about family, friends and joy so often ends up in tears, stress and hurt feelings.

Take a breath, slow down and remind yourself what you want at this time of year.

I actually like to use this time to reflect on what is important and where I am heading in the year ahead. It is not easy with all the celebrations going on. Therefore I have to think carefully about which ones I really need and want to attend, rather than what I think I should attend.

I ask myself if it is time well spent at these events, or if it’s better taking time to relax, refresh and reflect?

My rule is to not allow others to pressure me into doing something I do not want to do. I remind myself that my time and energy is valuable and I get to choose where I want to use it.

While taking time to reflect at this time of year, I explore how my year has been and contemplating what I want as I approach the New Year. I then take time to put this in writing in as many different ways as I can.

Creating dream or vision boards, writing affirmations, and writing a success story are all ways to expressively put goals in the front of our brain. However, first I look at what my goals were from the previous year. I highlight the ones I have accomplished, review the ones that I have not met to see if they are important to me anymore, or decide how it might need changing for the upcoming year. Then I start writing out my goals for the New Year.

To be successful at goal setting, the goals need to have an emotional meaning and importance for them to counter the everyday busyness.

Goals need to be put in writing where they can be read every day. I put my goals on my mirror, my computer, on the front of my day-timer, and my refrigerator. This helps to reinforce what is important to me and keeps my brain looking for the steps to accomplish my goals.

One of the best aspects of goal setting is that I use it as a filter when I am trying to make a decision in my life. Often it quickly leads me to decide what I want and what direction to take.

I clearly remember when I first finished my licensing and I had a couple of job offers that were pulling me because they presented a good income, security and some good opportunities.

However, as I was reading my goals that were attached to my mirror, I realized there was nothing on my list about working for someone else. My intention in life was to have a private practice. To this day I believe if I had not written down this goal and read it everyday, I would have been lured into a direction that might have been easier to take in the moment but was not what I truly wanted. Every day I am so grateful for my practice.

Another point to remember about goals is that at any time we can change our minds and therefore change our goals if we want. These are your goals, no one else’s. Goals may change because our priorities or life situation may change, or we may have an impact moment in our lives where we have to shift what is important.

I frequently hear from people that they are afraid of setting goals because they feel if they do not accomplish them, they have failed. Nothing could be so far from the truth.

Even when we do not accomplish our goals, we learn something about ourselves; therefore it is never a failure. We only fail when we do not try at all.

So get out a pen and paper, start writing out your goals and remember that “the only thing standing between you and your goal is the (made-up) story you keep telling yourself as to why you can’t achieve it” (Jordan Belfort).

So enjoy the holidays and start thinking about what you want in 2015.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].

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