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4 steps to setting goals for lasting change

how to set goals for 2020

As we’re approaching mid- January, it’s time to have a look at your new year resolutions. Statistically, 22% of people who made resolutions didn’t even make it past the first week. By the end of the month, the drop rate will increase to 40%, and unfortunately, by the end of the year, to 92%.

I want you to be one of the 8% who make it and this blog post will show you how.

New Year resolutions are not a bad thing, but most of the time, we don’t do it right. It’s not a lack of motivation or willpower, it’s how we define the goals that decreases the probability of success.

How to set goals to achieve success

1. Start with a vision

Many times, when working towards a goal, it can feel like you’re always pushing. It’s all willpower. That, unfortunately, doesn’t last.

If you’re constantly trying to hold a beachball under water, at some point your arms will get tired and the ball will jump up, making a real splash.

That’s the moment when the cupcake lands in your mouth without you even noticing it, or you jump on the sofa to watch TV instead of going for a run or work on a personal project.

I want you to know that there’s nothing wrong with you. Using willpower forever doesn’t work. It’s not you, it’s your goal.

What’s the solution then? Instead of pushing, be pulled.

Start with a vision. Start with a big, fat, powerful WHY.

Why do you want to be healthy? Why do you want to be fit? Why do you want a business? Why do you want more money?

What will the achieved goal do for you? How will it change your life?

And here’s my PRO TIP: go one step further and make your goal about contribution, a basic human need to feel fulfilled. You don’t have to, you can absolutely be selfish, but contribution can give you a sense of mission, a feeling that you’re part of something bigger than you.

Plus, it doesn’t have to impact the whole world, it can stay close to home and only improve the life of your immediate family.

In which case, your “I should start eating healthier” resolution becomes “I want to have energy for many years ahead so my kids can have a role model and a playmate”.

How to set health goals

How will your goal impact those around you, your friends, your pets, or the causes you support?

Be a role model. An inspiration. The one who achieves success and shares the benefits.

Once you can put your vision into words, write it down. This alone will increase your success probability to 42%.

2. Who do you need to be? The Be-Do-Have equation

Oh, did you panic at the sight of the word “equation”? Call it framework or system if you want, it doesn’t matter. Here’s what matters:

What we have is the result of what we do.

What we do is the result of our thoughts, our beliefs, our personality traits. To sum it up:

What we have is the result of who we are.

So, having comes from being, the “doing” is just the vehicle. An important piece for sure, but it’s authentic with who you are.

When you decide to change something in your life, what you want to change is the “having” part of the equation. A healthier body, a slimmer body, more money, a promotion. And you “do” stuff, which works for a while, but then suddenly, you go back to the old habits. Because what you’re doing doesn’t really match your unchanged ways of thinking. When reality doesn’t fit your beliefs, one of them has to give. And slowly but surely, you go back to your previous results.

Let me give you an example. A person who consider themselves poor wins the lottery. I guess we all heard stories about people who either won or inherited a large sum of money and lost it all. That’s because they don’t know what to do with it. If that person doesn’t have the rich mindset already, they will either hoard the money, living the same life they’re already living, or spend it all, which takes them back to being poor.

Having the money doesn’t make them rich. Rich is first of all, a state of being. If you know what a rich person thinks, feels, does, believes in, then you’re ready to have the money.

So, we got it backwards. We need to BE first, and then have.

The example I give most often, because I know many went through this, is the example of a promotion. If you want a different role in your job, you don’t go to your manager and say “I want a promotion” and they give it to you. What happens is, you start looking at the different responsibilities of the new role and you start behaving like someone in the role you want. Once you’ve demonstrated that you already are that new person, then you get the promotion, the official title.

But how do we apply all this to our goals? Last year, I had 2 monster goals, that I eventually achieved, and I want to take you through my thought process and how it worked for me.

One of them was weight loss. I started this journey 5 years ago. And it worked. Until at some point when it stopped working, and I put some weight back on. This repeated itself – different tools, same result. But last year I was committed to figure this thing out. Why does the weight always come back? What am I not doing? It was like something was not matching, right?

Of course, it wasn’t. In my head, I was so dedicated to weight loss, that I saw myself as the girl who’s always losing weight. And how can you be that girl if you lost all your weight? You put it back. When your thoughts don’t match the results, one of them has to go.

It really was a big aha-moment for me. So, all I have to do is BE someone who:

  • doesn’t have a weight problem
  • doesn’t think about food all the time
  • doesn’t use food to handle emotions
  • has a healthy body
  • makes good choices

Every morning, I journaled and reminded myself of the intention. And asked myself: how can I be that person today? How can my actions match my intention? And I answered that.

Who do you need to be to achieve your goal?

What are the qualities, the behaviours, the beliefs of someone who has the result you want?

True behaviour change comes from an identity shift.

3. Define your action plan

Once you have a vision and an idea of who you need to be, you need to start taking action! This is the fun part, the one that everyone skips to without taking into consideration Step 1 and 2. But not you, you’re one of the 8%, baby!

Before moving forward, I want you to do one more thing: commit and get excited! Make it feel real. Close your eyes and see yourself having everything you want. How does it feel? Can you hold on to that?

You’re still here? Then let’s come back to the real world for a minute, we have a plan to put in place.

First of all, I want you to know that it’s ok if you can’t see the whole picture yet. Taking the first step, even if that is doing some research, is still good enough.

  1. Start to split your big vision into smaller, measurable steps.
  2. If it’s a project, define all the action steps you need to take and give them a deadline. For extra motivation, add them to your calendar.
  3. If it’s more about habits, define your intention in a very clear way:
    • “I will do Yoga 1 time a week for 1h at the local studio after work”,
    • “I will write 1 page for my book every day at 6am after my basic morning routine”,
    • “I will do 10 push ups at my desk before I have lunch Monday to Friday”.

The more specific, the better.

yoga in cheshunt

Start small, make it enjoyable and make your environment supportive:

  • prep your workout clothes the night before,
  • leave a glass of water on the counter to have it as soon as you wake up,
  • clean your desk so you can sit and write at the scheduled time,
  • stock your fridge with healthy options, etc.

4. Join a supportive community

Being part of a group that has the same goal as you will make impossible habits feel like second nature. You get accountability, support and a lot of understanding when it gets tough.

Trying to drink less when all your friends close their work days with a glass of wine is impossible, especially if you go out with them often.

Starting a business is impossible when everyone around you advises you to go back to a “real” job.

Once you find your tribe, you’ll be surrounded by people that try to lift you up instead of bringing you down.

From your local Yoga studio or book club, to online support groups, there’s a community out there where you will fit perfectly.

setting goals post community picture

Let’s glue the puzzle together

And with that, you have the last piece of the puzzle. Instead of a recap, bring your journal and answer these questions if you haven’t already:

  • Why do you want to achieve your goal?
  • How will your life change?
  • How would you feel?
  • How will it impact your family, friends, pets, clients, colleagues, or causes you support?
  • What will your future look like if you don’t change? What is it costing you? What is it costing others?
  • Who do you need to be to achieve your goal? What are the beliefs, the qualities, and the habits of someone who already has the result?
  • Split the goal into small, measurable steps and add a deadline
  • Define the implementation intention of the habits you need to adopt
  • How can you improve your environment so that it supports you?
  • How can you make it simpler and more enjoyable for yourself to practice the new habit?
  • What’s a community you can join to get accountability and support?
  • What can be in the way? How can you mitigate that?

Stay tuned for the next post, when I’ll be back with tips on how to stay motivated and recommit to your goal even when life gets in the way.

Until then, let us know, what’s your big goal in 2020? How can we support you in achieving it?

Love and gratitude,


(Yoga Teacher and Life Coach)

Categorised as: Health