I asked a life coach how to set goals this year and actually achieve them


“Goals with soul.”

The dawn of a new year has become synonymous with one thing – goal setting. It’s that time of the year where you sit down with a fresh piece of paper, ambitiously (and unrealistically) writing down everything you want to achieve and the habits you want to make (or break).

If your list of resolutions looks anything like mine, then it probably spans across several pages and is perfectly colour-coordinated with everything planned meticulously. This sort of obsessive planning gives me a real boost of serotonin.

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The only problem? It’s disappointingly short lived. That fresh piece of paper is soon forgotten, only to be rediscovered a year later in the back of some drawer, crinkled with all of its checkboxes still unticked. I know I’m not the only one who perpetually falls victim to this cycle every year.

All too often goals can become overwhelming and daunting, and instead of making us feel better, they serve as a reminder of the commitments we failed to stick to yet again. Despite all of this, I do still believe that setting goals and writing down your resolutions is important and helpful so I decided it was time to be productive in my approach.

That’s why I spoke with Human Design life coach, Phi Dang, to find out what the best ways to set attainable goals are, how to actually make them happen and how to work towards making a difference in your everyday life. 

Hi Phi! Tell me a bit about yourself and what you do. 

I’m a Human Design life coach. As a life coach I help everyone simply be happier and more confident. When it comes to life it could be anything – it could be career [or] relationships. 

As we settle into the new year, is it important to set goals and if so why?

I think it’s definitely important to have a direction that you’re heading towards because you cannot harvest what you haven’t planted. I think there is a difference between intentions and goals, because I see intentions as very much being here in the present moment whereas goals are future-oriented. Intentions are broad whereas goals are very specific. Intentions are simple but goals are strategic.

It’s important to use both of them because they are like your guiding star and something to strive towards especially if you want to live in a growth mindset oriented lifestyle. I think for a lot of people, the word goals [can be] quite anxiety inducing. You don’t want to be so busy just planning that you forget why you have these goals and what you’re planning for. 

New Year’s resolutions and goal setting can quickly become overwhelming. What’s the best approach to setting goals that are attainable? 

I think it’s all about ‘goals with soul’ and having the feeling behind it because if you think about what you’re chasing at the end, it’s a destination, but what you’re really chasing is the feeling. For example ‘I’ll be happy when I get the dream job’ or ‘I’m at the correct weight’ or whatever. That’s just the channel and vehicle but you’re really chasing that feeling and so if you’re always embedding your feelings in [your goals], you’ll be more happy working towards something because you’re feeling it.  

Even the language you use around it, you want to be adding to your life versus losing. For example it’s easier to add a behaviour rather than lose one. So, imagine your goal was instead of saying ‘I want to eat less junk food’, it’s ‘I want to eat more nutritious food’, so it’s a simple shift but it can definitely make you feel better. And then of course chunking your goals is the best approach…When people try to go all out it’s very disheartening so it’s good to have little markers along the way [while you’re] on the journey of achieving your goals. 

What are some of the next steps to take when setting your goals? 

I think it’s definitely accountability. For example if you give yourself two months to do something then you’ll probably do it in that time versus say in two years. So that time frame element and accountability [are really helpful]. It’s also so important to take inspired action. Doing things to make it happen and doing it in a way that excites you and lights you up. 

How can we work towards actually achieving what we have set out to do and create sustainable change? 

Habits are really important because they’re ingrained in your mind and it becomes subconscious and then you do things on autopilot without so much as an effort. Habit stacking is something that is really easy – anchoring something that will work towards your goal everyday. For example, if you know you brush your teeth everyday, you stack a habit against that. Say you want to drink more water, so just before [you] brush [your] teeth, [you’ll] drink a cup of water so that way you’re working with your mindset and energy as opposed to working against it. 

I think [it’s also about] celebrating. We always celebrate when we get to the actual goal but we should be celebrating all the little things and big things towards that because our mind is naturally negative – we’ve got a negative bias – so we’ve got to work extra hard to be positive and ingrain that feeling of success and that we are achieving our goals.     

Sometimes along the way we face hurdles and setbacks that mean we don’t accomplish our goals. What is the best way to approach this situation and how can we continue to stay motivated? 

It’s about kindness and patience and having that attitude [towards goal setting]. One of my favourite [sayings] is ‘Nothing means nothing unless you let it’. If you create this story in your mind that ‘Oh I haven’t done this and that’s why it’s never going to happen for me’, that’s what will happen because you’re creating your reality. [You shouldn’t let] the failures or setbacks define your success and if you really have a growth mindset, it’s always win or learn, you never really lose. 

Failure is also amazing because it’s the quickest way to learn. You can plan as much as you want but you’re still at the mercy of life and the universe – that’s what the pandemic has taught us – so it’s about being really kind and patient. You’re probably going to achieve your goals when you love yourself and are patient as opposed to hating yourself and pushing yourself to succeed. 

For more on productive goal setting, try this

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