I’m sure you have heard it all about goal-setting. May your goals be definable, ambitious. May they be realistic. Make them SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely).

So we set some goals, we make some changes, and maybe we even attain those goals! Congrats – you just lost ten pounds! You saved for that trip! You got the promotion!

You go, Glen Coco. You go.

Do you feel the way you thought you would once you’ve accomplished your goal? I mean, hopefully you do.

However, what if we don’t reach our pre-determined goal? Are we 1) sad that we are still carrying around those pesky Thanksgiving pounds, with no vacation in sight and no corner office at work, and 2) disappointed that we didn’t complete something we set out to do? Maybe we feel worse than before we set a goal at all.

I’ve been working through a book called The Desire Map by Danielle Laporte, and she describes how the concept for the book was born out of a New Years Eve tradition Danielle completed with her husband when they sat down to set goals every year. The Desire Map was recommended by my therapist, and not only does it appeal to my childlike sensibilities, boasting a bright pink cover and large fonts within, but it is helping me understand that setting goals often involves chasing a desired feeling, not a specific number on the scale, world travel or dollar amount in the bank.

What are some feelings you enjoy feeling day to day? Perhaps at work you want to feel accomplished, respected, powerful, and included. At home you might want love, safety, and appreciation. With your partner, you may want to feel sexy, desirable, understood and cared for. In your life as a whole, maybe you yearn for freedom, happiness, and insight. What The Desire Map teaches me is that these feelings should BE the goals we pursue, because ultimately when we make changes in our lives to reach goals, we are looking to feel something – feel differently, feel better. So why not make our goals with our heart’s desires in mind?

In effect, it is not losing the ten pounds that makes an impact, but the feelings we assign to shedding weight: we may want to feel sexier, more attractive, healthier. Are there other ways to feel sexier, more attractive and healthier that we can do today and start feeling those feels right now? There sure are! Light those candles, take that bath, get a sweat on, and wear that shirt that brings out the colour of your eyes. Feel sexy now!

The Desire Map helps me define exactly what I am working towards and to my surprise, it has nothing to do with dollar amounts, relationship milestones, or my pant size at Old Navy. Rather, it has everything to do with how I want to feel in my life: I want to feel understood, I want to laugh, I want to be loved and to feel strong. I want to be vulnerable and safe, yet free. I want feel like I’m using my talents to help someone. I want that feeling when that song comes on and suddenly I am Rihanna. I want a bright life. And I can start feeling and chasing all of this. Today.

About Victoria Bain

Hi! I work in Ontario Corrections and I'm thrilled to be writing for Healthy Minds Canada. I have always been passionate about mental health and learning how we can better help one another feel a little less alone in all of this. Thanks for reading!

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