5 Steps to Mindful Goal Setting

mindful goal settingThe end of the year can be chaotic. Most people are trying to squeeze a million things in before the year is over; add last-minute shopping, holiday party hopping, and traveling to the mix…and schedules are packed.

But the end of the year is also when we’re trying to lay groundwork for next year, and set goals. Conversations quickly shift from holiday talk to plans for the upcoming year. And in order to set impactful goals and intentions, the mind must feel at ease. In other words, you must figure out a way to settle the mind in order to get clear on what goals should be prioritized.

What happens if you set resolutions and goals when your mind isn’t settled? It’s likely you’ll set too many goals, ranging in level of importance, instead of focusing on what’s most important to you. Your goals won’t truly align with what you want in life.

Focus is key when setting goals. If you have too many, you won’t be motivated to dive into any of them. Follow these steps to make sure you’re centered, so your New Year’s goals lead to a productive and happy New Year.

Step 1: Find Your Presence

During stressful times of year, (which the holiday time can be for many people) it’s important to remain true to your innermost self, and hold a sense of presence, no matter how chaotic life gets. The word presence is derived from two words: Present and Essence:

  • Present: In this moment, right now
  • Essence: Below the surface; Deepest connection to core root or source; Substance

Holding a sense of presence means staying connected to your truest self, your essence, in the moment. Your breath is one of the best tools you have to remain present and focused on the present moment.

Try This:

  • Breath in for a slow count of 5
  • Pause at the top for 5
  • Exhale out through your mouth on a slow count of 5
  • Repeat 5 times

Step 2: Settle Your Mind

The breathing exercise in step one will certainly help to begin the process of settling the mind; sitting in stillness will further the process.

Try This:

  • Set a timer for 10 minutes and find a comfortable seat with your eyes closed
  • Choose one word or feeling that you’d like to embrace in the coming year (words like “love,” “happiness,” “peace,” and “success” work well.
  • Choose one word that you would like to release from your life in the coming year (words like “fear,” “insecurity,” “negativity,” and “anger” work well for these.
  • On your in-breaths, silently say to yourself the word you’d like to embrace more in the coming year
  • On your out-breaths, silently say to yourself the word you’d like to release in the coming year
  • Repeat, using the words as your mantra for this 10-minute meditation

Step 3: Connect with Your Heart

Place one hand on your heart as you also place your attention on your innermost desires. Tune into your essence and get curious with what surfaces.

Allow your mind and heart to dance together around the realm of possible resolutions and dreams—what pops up? Watch these desires float by and observe what emotions, feelings, and sensations accompany them.

Do certain resolutions come with tension? Anxiety?

Do others come with joy? Excitement?

If certain resolutions hold more energy (either positive or negative) than others, stay with them for a moment and just notice what surfaces without judgment. Take a mental note of which resolutions and goals get you excited, delighted and motivated, and which pull you down or make you tense.

Step 4: Visualize

Imagine for a moment that these dreams are yours already. Choose three of the goals that surfaced during step three—the ones you identified as coming with positive emotions.

One at a time, bring their future reality into your mind. Visualize for a moment, that you’ve already reached the goal, attained the resolution, and found total success with this area of your life.

Whether the resolution is landing your dream job, losing 25 pounds, finding your soul mate, or finishing a project, imagine that you’re already there—in the future—already having achieved that goal. Notice all of the details that come along with this success, including how people relate to the future you. Spend at least a few minutes with each of the three resolutions, noticing how you feel in the imagined future moment. Take your time exploring each of the three visualizations in this step.

Step 5: Affirm

Write it down! Seal your resolutions by writing them down—all three of the resolutions that came with positive emotions. Don’t just jot down what they are, include the positive emotions that come with having them in your life—the details, feelings, and motivation that they bring. Having seen a vision of your life with these goals already reached, you’ll want to take those feelings into the New Year to drive your own success.


If you want to design the best year of your life, schedule a free coaching consultation to find out how coaching can help you reach your goals and become more effective at achieving the things you want to achieve.

Melissa Eisler

Melissa Eisler is an ICF Certified Leadership and Executive Coach, certified meditation and yoga instructor, and author. She created Mindful Minutes to offer practical, relatable anecdotes and tips on how to bring mindfulness into the busyness of the digital age. Her intention is to share what she learns about overcoming her own challenges with meditation, mindfulness, and life balance while maintaining a challenging schedule and career. Learn more about Melissa here.

2 Comments

  1. Sara Schairer on December 31, 2015 at 11:41 am

    LOVE this! Thank you, Melissa!

  2. work on January 10, 2018 at 6:35 am

    Not only it is a local phenomenon, globally, WHO estimated one billion adults are overweight and more than 300 million are obese.
    So begin by eating fruit & vegetables, hard working liver, and high protein foods.
    Upon waking, prepare around two servings of oatmeal in a very big glass plate, and mix a
    bit more than a teaspoon of cinnamon, then fridge it.

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