Quick Guide: Goal Setting when you have no idea what your goals are or what you want

This week I talked to my therapist (yeah I see a therapist and she’s bomb) about how our culture is obsessed with goal setting, intentions, vision boards, and inspirational quotes on Instagram. We’re bombarded with messages about living our best, most blissful, radiant life. Don’t get me wrong, I love all of that, too.

But what if we’re not sure what we want our lives to look like? What if our vision of our dream life keeps changing? What if we’re unclear about our life purpose? Setting goals and “visioning” then becomes tortuous because we’re so scared about choosing the wrong goal or not feeling super passionate about our goals and then never experiencing our “ideal life.”

I felt this way pretty much every day last summer. My anxiety skyrocketed because I put so much pressure on myself to live my best, most ideal life. But I was so confused about what I wanted my “ideal life” to look like that I became paralyzed. Every time I started to take action on something, like apply to a job, my mind future-tripped immediately about how that job may not give me my “ideal life.” And if I wasn’t living that “ideal life,” then I was wasting my life. Omg it was an exhausting and guilt-ridden season.

Can you relate to feeling so much pressure to live an ideal, Instagram-worthy life that you freak out about setting goals for yourself?

I can tell you from (very recent) experience, that you DO NOT have to worry that you won’t live your ideal life or that none of your dreams will come true…even if you’re not sure what those exact dreams are.

You can relax. You will get clear on what you want in your ideal life and you will live the life of your dreams…if you shift your focus when setting goals.

So here’s what I want you to do.

Instead of focusing on the external stuff in your ideal life—the man, the job, the kids, the wardrobe, the travel—first think about how you want to FEEL in your ideal life.

When you imagine yourself living your ideal life, how do you FEEL? What kinds of feelings do you embody and experience most of the day? What are the most important feelings and states of mind that you want to feel?

Make embodying and experiencing those feelings your goal first. Those feelings become your priority.

Then, set personal, academic, and professional goals for yourself based on those feelings.

For example, the feeling that I want to experience every day is inner peace. No matter where I go or what I’m doing, I want to feel peaceful. That’s my first goal–to embody and experience that feeling.

Now that I know how I want to feel every day, I can make decisions about the things I do, places I go, and people I see that will bring me that feeling of inner peace. I can set goals for my life that are oriented to my #1 goal of feeling peaceful. Maybe that means I set a goal to forgive someone. Or set a goal to stay up late to finish a work project because that will make me feel peaceful in the morning. Or set a goal to communicate my feelings in my next romantic relationship. Or set a goal to move my body every day because it calms down my brain.

Goal setting becomes so much easier and calmer when your top goal is a FEELING instead of a THING.

Want some help choosing your top FEELING goal?

Email me at sarah@thehappycollegegirl.com and tell me you want to schedule a 30-min strategy session with me. We’ll identify your feeling goal and create a customized plan of action for you to experience that feeling every day!