Getting to the Meaty Goodness of Goals

We are two weeks into this dandy of a New Year, friends, and as promised, I’m coming atcha with the third part in my series that’s kind-of-but-not-really related to New Year’s goals (or, blerg, resolutions). First was about the Pause, a critical tool for tapping into our core selves. Then, breaking goals into actionable bites.

Today, we’re tracing goals up to their actual value.

Confession that often surprises folks: I’m not terribly gung-ho on goals.

Don’t get me wrong – I see benefits in goal setting. Goals help us focus our actions in a direction and that’s important. Super-duper important. My beef is that we treat goals as the end-all be-all, as though if we define or refine a goal enough, we’ll magically get to the life we most want. Worse yet, we all too often judge ourselves on our ability to achieve goals… without any thought as to why we’re chasing any given goal in the first place.

Hence, the post on tracing up. It’s all coming together, right?


Okay, how about an example? Let’s say that I set a goal of training for a marathon (mind you, I haven’t). Let’s say I’m really into it and I’m telling people about it and I buy myself some swanky high-tech sneakers and sign up for a couch-to-10K program to get started. And then I break one of my running bits and the doc says no running for months, maybe ever, because it’s a really important and delicate bit that I broke.

If I’m hyper-focused on the goal of running a marathon for its own sake, I’m going to be pretty seriously unhappy when I roll out of that doctor’s office on the padded, one-legged scooter thing that I’m no doubt now using.

Running a marathon, however, is not inherently valuable. It has value – it’s just that its value is deeper than the actual running of the marathon. What, then, is its value?

It gets me off the couch? Sure!

What makes that valuable?

Off the couch means moving? Yes!

What makes that valuable?

I’ll lose weight and increase my endorphin levels? You bet!

What makes that valuable?

Losing excess weight is correlated with physical health and endorphins are associated with uplifted emotional health. Now we’re talking some inherent value, friends. Bingo.

So, circle back to me roll-hopping out of the doctor’s office only now I’m not focused on running, I’m focused on enhancing my physical and emotional health. Do I have options for working on both of those even in my quasi-droid state? You bet your sweet bippy.

For physical health, I could do upper-body exercises until the bit has healed and then I could explore lower impact exercises like swimming, yoga, biking, or that moving elliptical thing I keep seeing on the Greenway and really want to try. I could increase my veggies, decrease my sugar, and make some of that chia pudding stuff.

For emotional health, I could journal, meditate, schedule more intentional time with people I love, sit in nature (or roll-hop for the time being), listen to soulful music, watch Kid President videos, listen to Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me, or engage a therapist or coach depending on my needs.

If you are feeling any or all of your New Year’s goals (or goals from any old time) slipping through your fingers, it’s absolutely possible that it’s a procedural issue – just having trouble making them actionable. It could also be that the route you’ve set (the goal) to a (likely unexamined) inherent value isn’t really the best direction for you and that with a little examination, you can redirect without going off-trail.

My challenge and invitation to you is to look at those things you want to achieve and ask yourself what makes them valuable to you – what would you have/be/change if you achieved them – and keep asking until you get to the deepest core value, the most elemental of places.

The bonus round is to brainstorm a bunch of other ways you could move toward the same inherent value. You may stick to the goal you’ve set and that’s great; still, knowing there are other routes to get there can be freeing and help you focus on what really matters rather than the changeable details that are goals.

Alright – get moving, and let me know how it goes!