Goals for the new year - woman sitting having coffee

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

Each year, I create goals and plans to achieve. But then, early on, I often find myself going off track, forgetting my goals, and beating myself up instead!

I think, “Wait a minute. Did I remember to meditate this morning?” The feeling of disappointment overshadows the excitement of achieving my goals. I find myself searching for ways to get back on track and try the next day again.

So, I recently talked with Dr. Barbara Green about this ‘vicious cycle,’ and she shared some inciteful new tips!

First and foremost, she’s interested in changing the language we use.

Rather than aiming for long-term, fixed objectives (which don’t always stay intact, even by the 2nd of January!), she advises frequently ‘taking inventory’ and ‘checking in’ with ourselves instead.

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

Dr. Green: Rather than thinking in terms of ‘resolutions,’ 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 the pandemic hammered home.

RCG: Um – definitely, yes! I couldn’t agree more. We’ve had to quickly adapt from our planned lives to years of living with unforeseen change.

Dr. Green: We must 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 looking closely at the answers you find.

Woman looking content, smiling

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 and 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. I’m sure many people, like me, are tired of beating themselves up!

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?

Goal for new year- woman walking in nature

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 framework for how we live. For every action, there’s a reaction.

If wanting to be closer to nature, opt for a walk outside rather than the gym. You experienced the outdoors. And you may discover that it felt great.

RCG: I can see that. A simple alteration of routine could generate a better day, which might result in more joy throughout the rest of the day.

Dr. Green: It all starts with mindfulness and awareness. It is 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!

Happy woman sitting, smiling. Thinking about new goals for the year.

Update from 2023:

I love this story because it changes how we can move forward daily by tenderly caring for ourselves from moment to moment.

So, are you inspired to incorporate new longer-range goals this year?

Here are a few open-ended ideas on my agenda:

  • Spend more time doing creative projects, including learning new skills like photography and watercolor painting.
  • Intentionally spend more quality time with friends and family this year, including more long dinner parties and spontaneous lunches with friends.
  • Consider starting a new hobby – like playing pickleball or tennis.
  • Less time on social media!
  • Thinking more about wholeness -less about wellness.

Woman sitting, smiling, peaceful.

A shift of focus from wellness to wholeness.

I discovered this after reading a fascinating article by Elise Loehnen of Oprah Daily.

Loehnen talks about how we’re currently consumed with our health stats. And that tactic isn’t necessarily leading us to a place we want to go.

Instead, deep inside, we’re seeking peace. And, she says, “Peace requires an inner knowing, a place we can only access through listening to ourselves, not through studying our stats.”

And that “We don’t get to (that place of wholeness) by outsourcing our decision-making to others, whether they be healers or heart-rate monitors; we get to that place of wholeness through reconnecting to the innate intelligence inside each of us. Only then can we recognize we already have everything we need, that we’re already there.”

I felt this article aligns with “mindful check-ins.”

Instead of forcing ourselves to align with others’ opinions of what we should or shouldn’t do, we can more often check in with the all-knowing intelligence that resides within us.

This could be the key to opening ourselves to a truer, healthier, more authentic version of ourselves that we seek.

Woman smiling at herself in mirror. Idea of self-kindness.

Kindness toward ourselves might also be just the trick.

This story also made me think of Dr. Becky at Good Inside and how she encourages us to speak to our children.

She reminds us that kids don’t respond well to criticism. And the way to bring out the best in them is to be on their side, on their team, and encouraging them all the way.

In many ways, it seems internally criticizing ourselves is just a bad habit we inherit when entering this world.

As adults, we can see how listening to our inner critic does not lead us to reduce stress and anxiety, stop procrastinating, allow ourselves to rest, fall asleep earlier, etc.

So. maybe it’s time to speak kindly to ourselves and, through meaningful daily check-ins, encourage ourselves to make the most of the day we’re having.

We might be surprised by what we can achieve!


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

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.

(This article was originally published on January 8, 2022, and has been updated for thoroughness and clarity.)

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