Mindset shift: Setting Your Intentions for the New Year
Updated: Feb 4
New year’s goals, resolutions, intentions…the list goes on of different ways we have tried to achieve what we want in the new year; but if you are anything like me, after a couple of months without seeing the results you want, you give up and move on, labeling yourself as a failure and a quitter (neither of which are true by the way).
Reflecting back on how I used to set up my new year’s intentions, I recognize three key areas where I fell short: pass or fail mindset, lack of clear & actionable goals, and lack of support.
Let's get into them.
A misguided mindset will lead to misguided results.
A man I follow by the name of Jason Wilson shared a powerful reminder about having the right mindset when setting goals.
“It’s great to have goals, but trying to attain goals without gratitude is like chasing after the wind, you will never be satisfied.”
*Bookmarks and plays on repeat for constant inspiration*
As Jason shared, having intentions is great! You can even spend hours outlining a foolproof plan to accomplish your intentions, but having a mindset that lacks gratitude and celebration will always leave you wanting more. Now I am sure this is because you are this incredibly high achieving person, but we also cannot ignore the fact that we live in a society that pushes us to the brink and still demands more.
But what if we decided to change our mindsets? What if we moved away from the binary thinking of pass or fail and moved toward a more nuanced approach that is founded on gratitude and celebration? As we think about our intentions, we can be thankful for the journey we are taking and celebrate the small victories along the way.
A first step in changing our mindset in intention-setting is how we choose to word our intentions. You may have noticed that I have been using the word “intention” instead of “goal,” and the phrase “intention-setting” instead of “goal-setting.” Changing the language within our intentions can have a dramatic effect on our perception of ourselves and how we choose to pursue our goals.
A good example of this is from the account antiracismeveryday. Check out their post on Resolutions vs. Revolutions.
The What. The How. The When.
Setting an intention is easy. Typically folks will decide on something they want to do or a change that they want to make, and voilà!: an intention. A couple of the most popular intention examples are eating healthier and saving money (Discover Happy Habits, Jan. 10, 2022), something we all could do more of, but these are neither clear nor actionable intentions.
I will go ahead and make it a little more personal, Common Culture (CC) is still in its beginning stages and I would love to grow my overall audience. So, imagine if I said that my intention for this year is to grow my overall audience, and that's it. A very simple and straightforward intention, but if I were to leave it at that I can almost guarantee that I would make minimal progress. Why? Because it’s missing several important factors: what, how, and when.
When I think about setting an intention or goal, there are three things I like to consider:
What - What specifically am I trying to achieve?
How - How do I intend on achieving it?
When - When would I like to achieve it?
Continuing with my audience growth intention as an example:
I intend to grow my overall audience, but there is no specific target I would like to hit. If my audience increased by 1, that’s amazing, but that is not as impactful as I know Common Culture can be. On top of that, it's vague. There is no destination or endpoint.
Let’s come up with a specific intention. Instead of just growing my audience, I want to grow my overall audience across all social media platforms and email lists to at least 10,000 (a literal goal by the way). This is a much more specific intention! When an intention or goal is specific it is much easier to construct a strategy on how to reach that goal and gives you a sense of direction. Setting specific goals gives you a long-term vision and short-term motivation. It focuses on your acquisition of knowledge and helps you to organize your time and your resources (Mind Tools, Jan. 10, 2022).
With a specific overall audience growth of 10,000 across all social platforms and email lists in mind, I have to think through how I am going to do that. This is more than just thinking positively or manifesting audience growth through the universe (although that may help), this is the step where you plan and strategize how you will accomplish your goal or intention. Am I going to produce a bunch of workshops? Am I going to reach out to several podcasters or network with folks within my industry? Both? There is an abundance of marketing strategies I can (and will) implement, but they all have to be working toward my overall goal of 10,000 audience members.
For the sake of my example, my specific strategy to grow my audience to 10,000 folks is to write one piece of content per week and appear on at least 2 podcasts per month. I chose writing a piece of content because it is easy to break up into pieces to disseminate across different social platforms, thereby allowing for the most reach. I also chose appearing on podcasts, because this is something that is incredibly easy to do and I myself host my own show (selfless plug, check out my podcast Real Talk with Dumas). If I want to get really specific, not only will I write one piece of content per week, but I am also submitting my content to be featured by organizations within my industry and appear on podcasts with a minimum of 5,000 downloads per episode.
How specific your strategy is and how you choose to implement your strategy depends on your intention or goal. Have fun with it! If you find something isn’t working after a few weeks, make the necessary tweaks till you find a strategy that works for you. The important thing in this process is to stick with it.
The last step is to decide when I realistically can accomplish this goal. If on January 1st of 2022, my mom is the only person following me across all of my social media accounts, am I really going to grow my audience to 10,000 by the end of 2022? Maybe, but that heavily depends on what strategies I plan to implement in the previous step. Instead, let me decide on a timeframe that is challenging, but attainable. This part may require a little math. Say I want to have completed my intention by the end of 2025. That would mean that my audience would have to grow by roughly 278 people per month (10,000 divided by 36 months) or 70 people a week. With my foolproof content strategy, I think that is completely doable. So my new intention would read more like this:
By December 31, 2025, I will have grown my overall audience to 10,000 folks overall by writing one piece of content per week and appearing on 2 podcasts per month.
Consider where we started, I want to grow my audience. Can you see the difference?
We all need that one person who is honest with us but also cheers us on.
Listen, I get that there are people who would rather set their intentions and not share with anyone. Those folks might do very well on their own. However, having the right person in your corner can be a game-changer for anyone.
In a 2019 Journal of Applied Psychology study, lead author Howard Klein and his colleagues said that people should share their goals, but it needs to be with the right person (Inverse.com, Bonner, 2020). Klein went on to say that, “Contrary to what you may have heard, in most cases you get more benefit from sharing your goal than if you don’t — as long as you share it with someone whose opinion you value,” Klein said. “You want to be dedicated and unwilling to give up on your goal, which is more likely when you share that goal with someone you look up to” (Inverse.com, Bonner, 2020).
The unfortunate fact is that not all of us have managers we can trust or mentors in our lives. That is why I am such a big proponent of coaching! Not just because I’m a coach, but because I have experienced what coaching has done for me and what I have seen it do for my past clients. By no means does a coach take the role of mentor or manager, but a great coach is all about you and your success.
How often have we had someone like that in our lives?
Regardless of how big or small your intention is, I don't believe we should take our goals, hopes, or dreams lightly, and having someone who will treat your intentions, goals, hopes, and dreams with more value than you do is a truly life-changing experience.
As much as I would love to support every person that reaches out to me, the fact of the matter is, I can’t and I shouldn’t. I am not the right support for every person. Each person is different and needs different things to succeed. When you understand your values and what is important to you, finding the right person that aligns with that becomes much easier. Here is a free tool from Personal Values Assessment to discover what some of your values might be.
Regardless of whether you choose to work with a coach (I highly recommend it and if you want to see if we are a good fit, Schedule a Chemistry Call with me) or someone in your life that you trust, I recommend that that person not only aligns with your values but will push you to think bigger and go further than you believe you can.
As the old adage goes:
If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.
The end result isn’t always the biggest gain.
I know that I have spent a significant amount of time talking about accomplishing and completing goals. I am not ashamed to admit that I love this stuff. Even so, I want to bring our attention back to where we started: changing our mindset. Goals and intentions are great, but if you are chasing goals without a mindset of gratitude and celebration you will never be satisfied because you will always be looking toward what you need to do and not celebrating what you have already done.
Remember my intention example about growing my overall audience? We did great work in outlining a specific and targeted strategy that is attainable and clear. Still, that is a results-driven goal that at its surface is deemed successful within a pass or fail paradigm; again, we are shifting away from this binary way of thinking toward celebration and gratitude. So what does that look like?
It is taking time to reflect on the journey and the work that has been done.
It is taking time to connect with those who have supported you and thank them.
It is looking inwardly and examining your own growth and not just the growth of what you are working toward.
I think that if you do this, you will find that the efforts you are putting toward your intentions, goals, resolutions, or whatever you want to call them, are much more sustainable.
Think about an intention for yourself, your company, your organization, etc. How can you create an intention that is specific and achievable, and what does a mindset shift from pass/fail to gratitude and celebration look like for you?
As a bonus, below is 11 Way to Make the Most of 2022 by riskhappy.