Friday, March 31, 2023

How to determine your goals

 Last week, we covered why we need goals. This week, we’ll cover my approach to determining my goals. 

To determine my goals, I have a process that I’ve developed. 

Step 1: Discover the structure of the idea 

The idea in this case is emotional wellbeing. To understand its structure, I start with a question. For example, to set emotional goals, I would ask the question: What are the elements of a healthy emotional life? 

To answer this question, I conduct research. Usually a quick google search helps refine my question. In this case, my question was tightened to “what are the components of emotional health”. 

Then I skim the components offered by the most legitimate sources. I find the following: 

Source 1 - NIH

In this case, the National Institutes of Health in the US say the components are: 

- “a sense of balance in emotion, thoughts, social relationships, and pursuits”

Source 2 - Share Care

According to share care, emotional health consists of “emotional intelligence and emotional regulation. Emotional intelligence describes your ability to identify your emotions, express them, and use your awareness of your emotions and their causes to promote personal growth. Emotional regulation deals with your ability to influence the emotions you have, when you have them, and how often”

Source 3 - WebMD 

Here, I discover warning signs that  emotional health is in need of care and notice that several of them apply to me. This information strengthens my resolve to work on my emotional health. 

I really don’t need much more than this to get started. I then notice that the first two sources look at emotional health from two perspectives. The first focuses on the what whilst the second focuses on the how. This is helpful because it helps me to relate the first two answers. To achieve the sense of balance expressed by NIH, I need to develop emotional intelligence and the ability to regulate my emotions. 

Step 2: Improve my understanding of the elements 

This piece is important because the more you understand about anything you are trying to do, the better your outcomes will be.  

Because I’m a reader, I tend to have in my mind which interesting books are out there, and  a fuzzy idea of what they cover. For example, upon seeing the answers offered by the sources, I recall that Brene Brown has a book about emotions called Atlas of the heart. I might then decide that my goal should be to build my vocabulary for expressing emotions by reading that book.

But if I didn’t already have a book in mind, I would then conduct research to discover books that give me this information. If you’re more of an auditory learner, you might take a course on the subject.

But I also have a friend who introduced me to the feelings wheel, so whilst I’m waiting to read the book, I can use the feelings wheel whenever I feel an emotion  so that I have vocabulary for talking about it. 

Step 3: Choose a focus 

After expanding  your emotional vocabulary or in parallel with doing that, you could consider  your “thoughts, social relationships, and pursuits” and either choose one area to focus on or do a little in each area.  Then try to be balanced in your allocation of resources to these areas. If you are choosing to focus on one area, for the first year, your goal might then be to achieve greater balance in say, your pursuits. 

Step 4: Take action on the area of focus 

To achieve this balance, the actions you might take could be the following: If you’re always working, you could take small steps to spend more time with your family,  friends, or even alone. If you only spend money on fashion and your children, you might consider taking some of your fashion budget to spend on areas you have neglected. That may be giving to your church or other cause of your choosing. If you read only English literature, you might consider improving your money IQ and EQ. Suddenly you’re taking new actions, and if you keep doing them for the entire year, they will shift your life in ways that make you emotionally healthier.

That’s the  process  for goal-setting that has worked for me. But there are certain beliefs that one needs to be able to trust such a process, so I’ll be back next week to share the most important ones. Until then, enjoy your weekend, please leave comments if you have questions, and Nyame nka wo ho!

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