Knowing your heart’s desire is more important than merely the tasks you perform each day, or the things you want. It’s about knowing how you feel, deep down inside.If listing random goals for 2016 isn’t your thing, try a new approach: pay attention to how you want to feel.

Happy 2016! It’s a new year and a new you, right? It’s time to make a daunting list of very detailed and lofty goals to hold over your own head each day … ones that possibly induce anxiety and fear, and eventually cause you to feel like one big, fat loser!

Hey, wait a minute. That’s not how it’s supposed to work. While setting goals is a good thing (and not just in January), they shouldn’t add more stress to your life. In fact, they should make you feel motivated, excited and focused! If you’re not the typical New Year’s resolutions kind of person, I have an approach that might be just the thing you need.

How do you want to feel?

One of my favorite quotes comes from The Invitation by Oriah:

It doesn’t interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for and if you dare to dream of meeting your heart’s longing.

The point is that knowing your heart’s desire is more important than merely the tasks you perform each day, or the things you want. It’s about knowing how you feel, deep down inside. Once those feelings (and desires) are identified, then you can make them a part of your goal-setting process, which can be transformational. So instead of emphasizing just a list of goals, you would identify and emphasize how you want to feel, and then set goals that will lead to achieving those feelings.

What makes you feel that way?

Using New Year’s resolutions as an example, start by identifying the feelings you want to experience as a result of achieving your goals and desires. What are the best possible experiences you will have, and what does that mean for your life, relationships, work, career, team, family and community?

Vividly imagine what it looks like, adding as much emotion into the picture as possible. This will help you figure out why achieving this goal is so important, and inspire you to take the actions that you need to achieve the results you want. Make sense?

Getting started

Here are some exercises you can do to get started with setting your goals based on how you want to feel.

  • Describe three times in your life when you experienced a level of euphoria – a time when you were flooded with a sense of joy, excitement and energy. Maybe it was a life event, an adventure or a pivotal moment.
  • When have you felt deeply happy and fulfilled? Describe three of those times.
  • If you could not fail, what would your life look like?  What would you be doing? Creating a picture in your mind utilizing as many of your senses as possible will help you develop meaningful goals that you can achieve.

Turning feelings into goals

Now, identify goals that will help you experience those feelings again. If spending more time with your children makes you feel happy and elated, then a possible goal might include coaching your child’s sports team, or scheduling monthly family outings. The bottom line is that by knowing how you want to feel, you can identify what you need to do to make you feel that way.

We want the things that we want because they make us experience certain emotions. So whether it’s going on a trip of a lifetime or buying the home of your dreams, the result of that is going to include happiness, fulfillment, adventure or joy.

Setting goals that are attached to desirable feelings is far more effective than choosing them just because they look good on paper. When they’re attached to emotions and senses, it makes them more meaningful and achievable.

What do you think?

Did you set any New Years resolutions, and are they attached to the feelings you hope to achieve? Is your goal-setting process related to feelings at all, or is there another process that works for you? Please tell us about your goals, or the lack thereof, by leaving your comments below.

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