Where do you want to be in ten years’ time – or five, or even one? What do you want to have achieved by then? Is there any area of your life where you are desperate to see change - where you would be disappointed to look back in ten years and see that things have changed little if at all? This month, I have been tasked with talking about goals – so now that you’ve had a whole month to forget your New Year’s resolutions ever existed, I want to get you thinking about areas where you can work towards real and lasting change.

We at Phase base a lot of our work, particularly our mentoring, around setting and then working towards goals. They are a really useful tool, to track progress and to maintain motivation. We try to make sure that our goals are SMART, which is something that many of you will have come across before. Although there are many variations on the SMART acronym, the basic principle is that if you want to stand a chance of reaching the goals you set then they need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Trackable. For example, it’s all well and good to decide that you want to get more exercise but you are much more likely to succeed by saying that you wish to walk for 30 minutes, three times a week until Easter and then review the impact it has made.

The thing is, I don’t really want to focus on the goals themselves. They’re really important, but they are the destination. Unless you know the route to take, the destination becomes irrelevant and it can be frustrating and demotivating to strive but never really get anywhere.

Instead, I prefer to focus on the habits, routines and rhythms which get you where you want to be. These can be so simple. Take a moment to think about the things you do on a regular basis, maybe even daily. The more I think about it, the more I realise that most if not all of these routines are based on goals, even if we’re not consciously focussing on the goal itself. We all eat, drink and sleep on a daily basis. Do we do so primarily because we want to? I don’t think so (well, maybe with the exception of sleep…). We do so because that’s what is required if we want to maintain healthy bodies and minds. We all (I hope!) brush our teeth morning and night, not because we enjoy it but because we need to keep our teeth strong and healthy. What I love about these rhythms is that the more we practice them, the less we have to focus on them to see positive change in our lives – if we do them enough, they become automatic. I doubt that you need reminding to go to bed or to eat, and I hope you don’t need reminding to brush your teeth!

So now you’ve had a moment to think about it, what do you want to work on in your life? By all means, turn that into a goal – commit to it, tell others who can support you, add it to your vision board or bucket list. But please, don’t stop there – take a moment to figure out the route that will get you there.

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