As we make our first tentative steps into the second month of the year, talk of New Year resolutions is starting to simmer down. The flurry of people proclaiming they will have more of some things (motivation, exercise, books on the read shelf) and less of other things (drunken nights, weight, empty cigarette packets) has subsided. And here we are, a month into the year: have all those commitments stuck? The likelihood is probably not.
We all do it, whether we like to admit it or not. All of us set goals we don’t ever reach. This is frustrating, disheartening even. In today’s pressurising world it can feel like we fail because there’s something wrong with us. Perhaps if we just try harder we’ll find success.
Why is this an issue?
I started contemplating the problematic complexity of these ideas more recently, particularly when I received one of CrazyCreativeCool’s workbooks which advocates for a totally different set of ideals. The method of goal setting we’re all used to is chockablock full of high expectations and a mentality of punishment and reward based on your ‘success’. Over time, I’ve come to believe this isn’t a good way to treat ourselves and probably isn’t the most effective action plan for reaching goals either.
So what’s the alternative?
Instead of associating goals with the binaries of success and failure, punishment and reward, I think it can help to consider and align goals in relation to the wider context of expectations, abilities and wellbeing. This might sound more complicated but I think the GENTLE Goals Method workbook really reflects these alternative themes; this could be a brilliant resource for people who want to change their attitude towards setting goals but feel a little lost with how to approach this.
The G.E.N.T.L.E. Goals Method
Holistic approach – I really like how the workbook emphasises this well-rounded way of looking at your lifestyle; goal setting might be about one specific thing but it isn’t about changing that single entity in isolation. Even small changes can impact other parts of life, and starting from the beginning with this holistic approach reminds you to take into account everything concerning your mind and body.
GENTLE Method – This acronym is a wonderfully clear guide to setting any goal: gratitude, emotion, nutrition, to-do list, learn, experience. I won’t go into detail here, as it’s beautifully explained in the workbook itself, but this method puts the holistic approach into practice in a simple, easy to follow way.
Energy audit – the next section delves into where you’re currently at in terms of emotions, relationships and desires. It helps to take stock of your present situation before you start projecting into the future; the well-chosen questions in the workbook direct a more focused way of doing this.
Setting goals – and then it reaches the juicy part. Helpful sections lay out approachable ways to create goals, never losing focus on the GENTLE elements throughout the process.
Reflecting – the final part of the workbook prompts you to look back over the journey and reminds you that each ‘failure’ is really just an opportunity to learn more about yourself.
This workbook is a perfect size for anyone looking to have a structured, but not overwhelming, guide to approach their goals. It contains many helpful questions and a few illustrated pages to break it all up. My favourite thing about it is the approach – it is not pressurising or pushy. I also really liked how having everything laid out in a little booklet forced me to sit down for a good chunk of time and really think about my goals in relation to myself.
I think the workbook would be best for people who feel very overwhelmed when it comes to setting goals and really need that first push. If you already have experience with setting goals in a holistic way then perhaps you may crave something that goes a little deeper.
How to adopt this approach in your life
Be realistic and treat yourself with kindness, always. You won’t run a marathon on day one of training: be proud of the progress you do make and talk to yourself positively.
Actively engage in reflection. What’s going well? What do you need some support with? Is what you’re doing now working, or does something need to shift?
Progress is not a linear process. I went to see Beautiful Boy at the cinema the other day, and a quote that has stayed with me is ‘relapse is part of recovery’. The journey loops back on itself every now and then, but that doesn’t mean you’re not still moving.
Achieve things socially. For some goals, this isn’t necessarily possible. But a lot of goals can be adapted to have a social element as part of it. Running with a friend once a week to break up those lone jogs, for example. Even non-social goals can be discussed with a friend, and hearing yourself form your wishes out loud and have them reflected back at you positively by someone else can do a whole world of good.
I know these might be things you’ve heard before – maybe, when you clicked on this post, you were hoping to discover some easy, fast-track way to get to what you want. But goals, in their very nature, require time, effort, commitment, support, positivity… This might not be simple to achieve, but by working on a healthy mindset to frame your goals in a positive light and by building a supportive environment in which to reach for the things you want, you will make the journey easier.
These are all lessons I think CrazyCreativeCool takes on board and runs with. If taking steps towards having a more positive goal-setting attitude seem daunting to you, I think following the GENTLE Method could be extremely helpful! Find out more and check out the full range of workbooks here 🙂
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This post is a collaboration with CrazyCreativeCool, all opinions are my own.