women sitting quietly checking in

A New Take on Goals for the New Year: Meaningful Daily Check-Ins

At the beginning of every new year, I’ve always enjoyed the idea of setting goals and creating steps toward more personal growth. But then, early on, I sometimes find myself missing days. I think, “Wait a minute. Did I remember to meditate this morning?” The feeling of disappointment overshadows the excitement of achieving my goal. I often search for ways to get myself back on track and to try the next day again.

I recently talked with Dr. Barbara Green about this sometimes vicious cycle, and she’s here with some new ideas. Mainly, she’s interested in changing the language we use. Instead of focusing on making lasting, permanent changes in terms of goals (that for some people (me) seem to not work out even as early as January 2nd!), she recommends regularly checking in and taking inventory with ourselves instead.

RCG: Hi Dr. Green. What exactly do you mean by taking inventory?

Dr. Green: Rather than thinking in terms of ‘resolutions,’ I think it’s vital to shift and open up to the mindset of monitoring and doing inventory. Some things are certain: we change, and life changes. What’s right for you in one moment might not feel right in the next moment. That’s been one of the messages that covid has hammered home.

RCG: Um – definitely yes! I couldn’t agree more. We’ve had to rapidly adjust from our scheduled, relatively planned lives into days, months, and now literally years of living with unexpected change.

Dr. Green: We have to learn to be more based in the moment. We can stop to think:

  • What am I feeling?
  • What’s making me feel this way?
  • And what can I do about it?

This is an excellent time to start to look closely at the answers you find.

A new way to approach goals for this new year:

RCG: So it’s about making adjustments daily and moment to moment, instead of the grand New Year’s resolutions?

Dr. Green: Exactly! People often set a New Year’s resolution, and it quickly drops off. Even on January 1st or 2nd!

This offers a new perspective. By learning to do check-ins with ourselves or taking inventory, we can begin to make choices that reflect our best interest at that time.

We can gently layer on a check-in process that includes how I’m physically feeling and how I am mentally feeling? How am I socially feeling? We can look at all dimensions that comprise one’s complete sense of self.

RCG: I like this idea. It feels more self-nurturing and kind versus punishing and judging.

Dr. Green: Yes. Think of it as a daily mindset. We are constantly adjusting. And always able to be intentional and dimensional.

RCG: Wow, this is great! So after you check-in, what do you do with the information you’ve discovered?

After you’ve checked in – then what?

Dr. Green: You can create a mini action plan. Try looking at the vision for what you’re feeling.

Once you have the vision, the littlest action makes a significant difference.

I love how physics provides a frame to how we live. For every action, there’s a reaction.

For example, if you decide you need to connect with nature more, you can choose to walk outside instead of going to the gym. And you may discover that it felt great. You experienced the outdoors.

RCG: I can see that. Just that slight change in plans one day to get outside might lead to a more positive day, which might lead to more happiness in other areas of my day.

Dr. Green: It all starts with mindfulness and awareness. Remaining in the moment doing honest check-ins and inventory.

  • What do I need?
  • What do I want?
  • What’s the plan?

Evaluate and revise. Evaluate and revise. It can become automatic.

RCG: This is a radically different word choice than ‘setting goals.’

Dr. Green: The word goal can be very intimidating. The language can be discouraging or even offputting. So for this new year, let’s remove the term goals and begin moving toward check-ins and inventory.

RCG: I agree. These words seem much more inviting and inspiring. I’m looking forward to using them!

I hope you found this story helpful. Please share with someone who might enjoy it!

Ps: I’ve recently discovered a journaling system by Brendon Burchard that I like. The journals are large, and although they allow for detailed goal setting, there’s a lot of room to improvise and to create “check-ins.” Also, there are end-of-week sections to reflect on how the week went and reassess the larger picture. I love this journal and highly recommend it to anyone in the market for something new.

Learn more about the fabulous and wise Dr. Barbara Green here.

Discover her passionate views on the importance of sharing your story and how to cultivate self-compassion here.

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