As I mentioned yesterday, this Wednesday I will be embarking on a 45-day mind, body, and spirit (MBS) journey as a part of Lent. While I do this every year leading up to Easter, there are many good reasons to take your own journey even if you are not religious, including reviving your resolutions, combating Seasonal Affect Disorder, and getting to your “happy weight (read more about those reasons here).
If you’re back here because you’d like to join me, hooray! I’m excited to have a buddy. If this all sounds a little too hippy-dippy for you, that’s okay too! You can still read on for some goal setting tips that are helpful in any situation.
So where to start? You know that you need to set a mind, a body, and a spirit goal, but what does that mean? First let’s take a look at some general goal setting tips before we tackle each category:
- Know what you want out of life. This sounds hard – but it can be very easy if you know where to start. My favorite exercise is called “25 Desires” which helps to narrow down your non-negotiables. Once you have put some thought into what you want your life to look like, it’s easier to set goals around how to get here. Here’s an awesome worksheet to help you do this exercise: 25 Desires from The Always Bright Life – Interactive Form.
- Make your goals specific and measurable. This is a practice I refined while working in strategic planning. Instead of simply saying, “I want to get in shape,” say, “I want to lose 5 pounds by April 5.” You go from having a nebulous idea to a defined goal that you can definitively say you reached. However, if you are familiar with the traditional SMART model of goal setting, I don’t suggest paying too much attention to the “Attainable” or “Realistic” aspects. As Vishen Lakhiani from MindValley says, “Dream Big. We tend to overestimate what we can do in a year. But we underestimate what we’re capable of in 5 years.” Look ahead to your big 5 year dreams and then think backwards to what you can be doing in the next 45 days to help you get there. This should help put your goals into perspective and give you little stepping stones that will make you happy to achieve.
- Share your goals. A post on Richard Branson’s blog (one of my favorite visionaries/entrepreneurs) says that you are 80% more likely to achieve your goals if you share them with people. So whether it be with me in the comments or with your family at the dinner table, make sure you’re telling people what you’re up to so that they can support you and keep you accountable.
Now that we have some goal setting framework, let’s take a look at the three specific types of categories for which we’ll be setting goals: Mind, Body, and Spirit.
- Mind. These are the things that directly improve your mental state. How can you live a happier life OUTSIDE of your circumstances? Maybe you think that being richer will make you happy, or having a higher title at work, or finding a romantic partner. But all of those things are circumstantial, they are not permanent and are out of your control. In fact, Project Happiness points out that only 10% of our happiness is due to external circumstances and that “we now know that the adult brain grows 5,000 new brain cells every day. So we can rewire our brains to be happy, compassionate, and kind.” To be truly happy, you need to find those things that are IN your control so that you can feel happiness on your journey towards the rest of your goals. Because trust me, once you reach those goals, there will be more goals. The goals never stop coming, so if you’re like me and fall into the “I’ll be happy when…” trap, you’re unlikely to be happy for long. Suggestions for things that improve non-circumstantial happiness include starting a gratitude journal, meditating daily (check out one of my favorite guided meditations above), or creating an affirmation.
- Body. This is possibly the easiest category. What do you need to do for your body? It may be to lose a specific amount of weight to reach a healthy BMI, maybe you know your body needs a certain diet to function and you want to start treating it right (think following a special IBS diet), or possibly you have always wanted to start a regular exercise program but haven’t been able to commit. In many cases, a healthy body = a happy mind, so getting your temple in check can do more for you than just giving you abs (although those aren’t too shabby either).
- Spirit. For me, this is a religious category. I find that when I am closer to God, I am happier and more successful. However, spirituality comes in many different forms. For some people this could mean getting in touch with your own spirit (think “finding yourself,” becoming more confident in your true you), for others it could mean forming a deeper connection with nature and the forces that connect all living things (think feeling that there is some sort of higher power and letting that power fill you with love). Spirit is all about achieving fulfillment in areas that are outside yourself in order to reach a higher level of peace within yourself. I know, it sounds hokey, so here is an article from Mayo Clinic that explains medically how spirituality can practically improve your life.
I personally would like to be 80% more likely to reach my goals, so here’s what I’m aiming to achieve over this MBS Challenge:
- Mind: Meditate 20min Daily.
- In addition to my daily gratitude journaling, I want to start meditating for 20min every day. For me, this includes savasana at the end of a yoga class, a guided meditation session, or any other purposeful resting of my mind/introspection.
- Body: Eat Paleo.
- I know when I don’t eat grains and dairy I feel my best, so I thought I’d give Paleo a shot since it’s a good catch-all category for what I want to do. Not only is my digestion and skin better, but I also typically fall into my happy weight when I do this. Weight loss isn’t my goal, but it is a nice side effect!
- Spirit: Attend church weekly.
- Josh and I have been slacking a little on the church going. Although I read my little daily devotional book every night, I feel a much greater sense of happiness and appreciation after each service and want to make this a priority.
Let me know if you’ll be joining and feel free to share your goals below so we can support one another!