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A Shift In My Approach to Goals

An opened notebook with the words "2023 Goals" written across the top.

It’s that time of year to create new goals and swim amidst the possibilities of all we could achieve! But before you lose yourself in the end-of-year euphoria, take a moment to set yourself up for success and assess your goal-setting process. Are you setting goals that will help you expand in some way? Or are you going to create yet another yearly goal list with motivation that fades into indifference by mid June?

If you’re like me, you manage to cross the easier goals off your list but lack a drive to tackle the most difficult ones outside of your comfort zone—leaving you close to where you left off the previous year. Well, this year I’ve explored what works for me and what doesn’t when it comes to creating these lists and I think I’ve uncovered a key piece to the puzzle (for myself, at least!).

My solution? Approach goals as a competitive challenge.

Let’s take a look at how a competitive approach could not only help us achieve our goals, but also create more expansive goals.

For those of us with a competitive spirit, we’re likely to get out of our comfort zones and expand when faced with a challenged. We’ve got that “I’ve got something to prove” gene, which works both in our favor and against ourselves, depending on the situation.

Setting yearly “challenges” rather than “goals” can subconsciously encourage us to get ready, get set, go! It’s this anticipation and strive to achieve that motivates us to complete otherwise daunting tasks.

Why not harness that motivated energy when creating and pursuing our yearly goals? Rather than a list of items we need to cross off our list, our goals could be challenges we get to try. And for the competitive souls, we’re likely to leave no challenge unscaled.

Again, if we hold a subconscious passiveness to our goals, we may not even create strong enough goals to actually help us grow into the next version of ourselves. When considered as a challenge, however, we’re more likely to design more specific goals that lie just beyond our comfort zone.

The nature of a challenge is to require growth of some sort (emotional, physical, mental, etc.). Thus, making a yearly “challenge list” will encourage us to think outside the box with that positive, competitive, eager-to-succeed undertone, right from the start.

Consider ways you hope to challenge yourself this year, rather than simply asking what you’d like to achieve. By focusing on accomplishments that require you to face challenges, you’re automatically encouraging yourself to dream bigger and reach higher. These are the types of goals that will ultimately sweep you towards expansion and keep you from repeating the same year—with the same goals.

It’s all about setting a strong foundation for success and priming your subconscious to work with you, not against you. If you can get excited and eager for your goals as you write them, you’re more likely to carry that drive with you throughout the year.

It feels incredible to face a challenge, overcome your doubts and fears, and push through the other side a slightly different version of yourself. This is what goal-setting is all about! To truly grow, we must not be afraid of what lies beyond our comfort zone—rather, we should fear believing that we’re growing when we’re actually staying in the same place, year after year.

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