Tips For Goal Setting Without Stressing Yourself Out

Tips For Goal Setting Without Stressing Yourself Out

Goal setting is a brilliant way to achieve personal and professional growth. It helps us to push ourselves out of our comfort zones and reach our full potential. But it you don't take a considered approach to the process of setting and achieving goals it can cause high levels of stress and anxiety.

There is an art to setting goals that challenge you and increase stress to manageable levels. Not all stress has a negative impact on us. Eustress is a positive form of stress having a beneficial effect on us. This type of stress can:
  • help you cope with potentially serious situations (fight or flight)
  • help you face challenges
  • help you stay motivated
  • complete tasks
  • achieve goals
Psychologist Dr. Kara Fasone says eustress is all about sufficiently challenging yourself without expending all your resources. This type of stress empowers you to grow in three areas:
  • Emotionally, eustress can result in positive feelings of contentment, inspiration, motivation, and flow.
  • Psychologically, eustress helps us build our self-efficacy, autonomy, and resilience.
  • Physically, eustress helps us build our body (e.g., through completing a challenging workout). {source}

Here are five tips on how you can set a goal for the new year without stressing yourself out.

1. Reflect On What Is Important To You

reflect on what is important to you - goal setting tip

Before diving into the goal-setting process, take some time to reflect on your core values. What truly matters to you? Identifying your values will help you set goals that align with your authentic self, reducing the chances of feeling overwhelmed or unfulfilled. It can be very easy to get caught up in the latest trends and set them as goals for yourself even though deep down you know you don't really want to do this. Don't set a goal that is something you think you "should" do. Make it something you want to do.

2. Set Realistic and Attainable Goals

set realistic and attainable goals - goal setting tips without stressing yourself out

Social media is saturated with big audacious goals, people going hard, hustle culture and flashy statements. While we need to set a goal that challenges us, it does need to be realistic so it doesn't cause us to expend all of our resources and leave us with no physical or emotional energy for the other areas in our life.

3. Prioritise and Focus

Tips For Goal Setting Without Stressing Yourself Out

The reality of setting a goal that challenges you is that it will take up time and energy. When sitting down and planning out the new year it is easy to list off so many things we want to achieve. Focus on a single important goal or a few smaller goals so that you won't feel overwhelmed. Prioritise your objectives based on their significance and impact on your life. Focusing on a few key goals at a time allows you to channel your energy more effectively and avoid spreading yourself too thin. And once you have set your goal/s accept that to achieve them you may have to say no to other opportunities and activities.

4. Embrace Flexibility

Tips For Goal Setting Without Stressing Yourself Out

With the above said, life is unpredictable, and your circumstances may change. Be open to adapting your goals when necessary. Break your leg and running that marathon will have to wait. Having an inflexible mindset can lead to stress, but embracing flexibility allows you to navigate challenges with resilience and creativity.

5. Break Down the Process

Tips For Goal Setting Without Stressing Yourself Out

When goal setting it is important to not fixate solely on the end result. It is important to focus on the process and the improvement and achievements you make as you work towards your goal. Take the running a marathon example. If you are currently only running 5km, set smaller step goals along the way - a 10km, half marathon etc and make sure you celebrate when you reach these milestones. This approach not only makes the journey more enjoyable but can also help you stay motivated along the way.

Goal setting doesn't have to be a source of excessive stress in your life. By aligning your goals with your values, staying flexible, and celebrating the journey, you can create a fulfilling and enjoyable path to success. Remember, the key is to find a balance that allows you to pursue your dreams without sacrificing your well-being. Happy goal setting!

Resources To Help You Set Goals Without Stressing Yourself Out

Resources To Help You Set Goals Without Stressing Yourself Out

If you are after further inspiration and information on goal setting for the new year then check out these resources to help you set goals without stressing yourself out.

Podcast - How to Have a Better Year in 2024 With Dr. Diana Hill, Elissa Epel, Alexandra Crosswell, Rick Hanson, Brad Stulberg, Anna Lembke and More
Your Life In Process - In this episode, the host Diana Hill shares 4 science-backed tips that will make your new year better, including how to stress better, reset your dopamine system, build healthier relationships, and take care of your health.

Podcast - How to make resolutions you'll keep - Life Kit - This episode outlines how SMART goals work and how they can help you use your time for the things that matter most.

Podcast - Stop Endlessly Chasing the "Next Big Thing" - The Happiness Lab with Dr. Laurie Santos - Goal setting is amazing but this podcast is a great reminder that it is easy to get fixated with these and the happiness we hope they'll deliver. It is important that we don't forget to look for joy right now. A reminder that we need to be mindful of the arrival fallacy.

Podcast - The Science of Setting & Achieving Goals - The Huberman Lab - this is a longer (just under 2 hours) more detailed resource. Huberman discusses the science of setting, assessing, and pursuing goals. He explains the neural (brain) circuits that underlie goal setting and pursuit. Then he describes nine science-supported tools anyone can apply toward their goals. You watch the video version here.

Article - Creating a Single Goal - Planning With Kids - this is the process that I have used for many years to set a personal goal for each year. I also set a separate business goal along this process too. 

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