I unashamedly love New Year’s rituals. Growing up in Brazil, I would practice them religiously. One of my favorites was to wear a white outfit on New Year’s Eve to invite peace and calm. The color of my panties needed to match the intention for the year ahead: pink for love, red for passion, yellow for money, green for health, white for peace again (sometimes, we need to double down on our wishes). I remember that one of the best years of my life unfolded after I wore multicolored lingerie at the turn of the year. This specific tradition sounds silly and laughable, but there is a deeper truth that lies beneath it: our intentions are powerful catalysts for transformation.
Intentions send energetic waves to the universe, but taking action will propel them into reality. As simple as it may sound, you can’t just intend to win the lottery, you must play the game. That’s why I’m a firm believer in setting up actionable goals and often use the SMART goals framework (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) for my professional and personal endeavors.
- 1. The Soul Planner, my productivity tool for creating soul-centric goals
- 2. Word of the year
- 3. My 2022 goals
- 4. My key learnings for creating soul-centric goals
The Soul Planner, my productivity tool for creating soul-centric goals
A couple of years ago I discovered Vanessa Loder’s Soul Planner, a productivity tool that is part journal, part planner where I write my yearly, quarterly, monthly, weekly and daily goals. I spend approximately 30 minutes on it on a Sunday and just a few minutes on a daily basis. The key point is to create professional and personal goals that resonate with your soul and deepest desires.
My 2022 goal-setting planning ritual started with Vanessa’s guided meditation (available once you purchase the planner). I then wrote down in present tense how I wanted the year to unfold as if I were already looking back at it. Here are my first lines: “I’m feeling blissful and accomplished. I left my job and traveled the world with joy visiting more than a dozen countries, mostly new ones.” Fast-forward to December 31, 2022 and that intention, which was permeated with action, turned into reality.
Word of the year
Many people choose a word to ground them throughout the year. Some find this overrated, but I’m a believer. When 2022 started, I couldn’t commit to just one word, so I created a phrase instead: “Expand with ease and joy into my source and truest authentic self.” Though “ease” wasn’t always there (I still resisted and feared a lot of outcomes), this sentence served as a mantra to keep me focused. When it comes to expanding into my authentic self, I have experienced leaps of transformation in that direction.
Around mid-year, I encountered a word that naturally replaced my previous sentence. “Aligned,” as in “living in alignment” became my North Star. I started to do only things that made me feel aligned with my values and my vision for a great career break. “Aligned” will follow me into 2023 (in fact, I’ll make sure it follows me for the rest of my life).
My 2022 goals
Four goals flourished during my January 2022 exercise and here’s how they played out:
Goal accomplished: Visit at least 12 countries with joy
I left my corporate job and embarked on a career break to fulfill a childhood dream to travel without time constraints. I randomly picked 12 as my number and forgot about it. Months later, when reviewing my yearly goals, I realized that I had visited precisely 12 countries in Europe: Portugal, Spain, France, Italy, Austria, Czech Republic, Malta, Ireland, Scotland, Croatia, Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina. In fact, I surpassed my goal: I visited 13 countries when I count a trip to my Brazil homeland as one of them (or 14, if a layover in England counts!).
Goal accomplished: Write on my blog at least 1x/month
Not only did I publish an average of 1.3 blog posts/month, I also launched GlobalJuliana.com in November, which I had never foreseen when the year started. I had a former blog, but never felt fully committed to it. My career break helped me tune in to my intuition and grow confidence in my self-expression. So when a Blogger Bootcamp ad showed up on my Facebook feed, I didn’t resist the urge to buy it. Upon taking the course, I gained clarity that I needed to pause writing a novel to launch a new blog/website.
Goal in flux: Gain passive income (money earned with minimal labor)
“Gain passive income” wasn’t a SMART goal. It wasn’t Specific (how would I gain passive income?) or Measurable (how much would I make?). However, here’s a sweet realization: though I never made any passive income in 2022, I have deliberately planted seeds to make it happen down the road. Takeaway: there is power in our intentions, but taking action is paramount.
Goal not delivered: finish the first draft of my novel
I intended to write my now six-years-in-the-making-fantasy-novel during my travels, but once in Europe I prioritized discovering my surroundings. Notice: it’s not that I didn’t have time to write my novel, I just didn’t prioritize it with the same energy as I put in other activities. We create time for things that are important to us. If you’re not creating time for dreams and goals, you’re giving signals that they’re not important.
Upon returning home to Texas I recommitted to daily writing and finished a rough outline. However, as my career break progressed bringing with it a wave of personal transformation, I felt that my characters’ lives had to unfold differently. My outline didn’t match the story I now want to write.
As I prioritized other activities that felt aligned with my career break themes and personal values, writing a novel felt overwhelming. I acknowledged I had to pause it. In the past, my inner critic would have beaten myself up for not delivering on my promise, but I’m learning how to be more gentle with myself. This time around, I exhaled an “oh well” and moved on.
My key learnings for creating soul-centric goals
I’m excited to to create soul-centric goals in the upcoming weeks to live a 2023 that feels as vibrant as 2022 felt. If creating New Year’s resolutions also excite you, below are my recommendations to make the most out of the exercise. My approach mirrors what I’ve learned from executive coach Vanessa Loder.
1. Create sacred space: go to a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for a few hours. Turn off your cell phone. Light a candle and let your natural-oils diffuser do its thing. I’m a fan of silence, but perhaps you want to play music that makes you feel elevated or calms you down. I play Vivaldi’s “The Four Seasons” and Native-American flute sounds on repeat. Key takeaway: be deliberate about creating a quiet space that feels nurturing to your soul’s desires.
2. Meditate for 5-20 minutes before goal-setting: this will put your mind in a state of ease and calm. Focus on your breath or listen to an empowering guided meditation. Meditating before goal-setting will help you to more easily connect to your heart’s desires as opposed to letting your rational mind dominate the scene. The rational mind often wants you to feel safe, so it may create goals that look good on paper and please other people instead of pleasing you. By the way: did you know that it’s totally OK to prioritize your growth and well-being? 😉
3. Come up with no more than 5 goals: this may be a hard task for overachievers, but having a laundry list of goals may end up sabotaging your progress. Fewer goals equal more focus and greater chances for success.
4. Try to set up SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) whenever possible, but if you’re not clear, it’s OK. There is power in your intentions and intentions are a great start to living a soul-centric life.
- Here are some SMART goal examples: lose 10 lbs by the end of April, meditate daily for at least 5 minutes, book a 2-week vacation to the beach by the end of May. These are NOT SMART goals: lose weight (how much? by when?), lose 200 lbs in 3 months (not realistic), meditate for 2 hours every day (is it achievable? do you have the time to do it?).
- Sometimes we know that change is needed, but we’re not clear on how to even articulate what it is that we want. It’s OK to be in this zone. As you continue to create space for introspection, clarity will follow you. For example, my “Gain passive income” wasn’t SMART, but towards the end of the year I planted seeds to generate new sources of income in the future.
- Your intentions are powerful. Let’s say that you know you want to find great work that pays well but you’re not yet clear on what exactly that work may be. A goal such as “Find work that I love and pays well” is a great start. Stay focused: it will create space for synchronicities and miracles. For example, within 24h of feeling ready to return to work (nine months into my career break), a former colleague reached out to me offering a part-time job that felt exciting and aligned with the future I want to build for myself. I accepted the offer!
5. Be clear on why you’re setting up your goals: are they ego-based or soul-driven? For example, my goal to travel to 12+ countries was both ego-based (to fulfill a childhood dream) and soul-based (if felt like something really important that I needed to do in this lifetime, a part of my life’s purpose that would create great joy, fulfillment and spiritual alignment).
6. Focus on how you want to feel and don’t be shy to use adjectives: don’t underestimate the importance of feelings. For example, what’s the point of traveling the world if in the end you will feel exhausted and unfulfilled? When setting up goals, permeate them with adjectives that inspire you: “Joyfully visit X countries this summer” or “Lose X lbs with self-respect and ease.”
7. Make regular check-ins, be flexible to add/drop/fine-tune your goals and celebrate what you have delivered (the small things count): life happens and events out of your control can derail your plans (i.e., health issues, job loss, family drama). Sometimes, the change is internal: new interests arise or you realize that what used to matter so deeply is no longer important. Be gentle and kind with yourself to drop or pause a goal that feels overwhelming. Instead of beating yourself up, practice celebrating and appreciating the things you did accomplish, even if they were as simple as eating a healthy meal or finishing reading a book chapter. Sometimes all you need is rest and silence. Acknowledging this simple truth is a major victory.
I want to hear from you
Do you set up goals for the New Year? What’s your process? Share your key tips and help empower this community.
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