Why your goal setting approach isn’t working.

Written by Stephanie Jackson

We’ve heard it a million times, all about goal setting and how we need to set goals.  Hey! New Year’s resolutions are just around the corner.  The time of year where we get to all collectively look forward to the inundation of articles with a tone of either indifference to the whole process or how this year will be different and successful.

But here’s what I see from working with many health and life coaching clients: it’s not necessarily the lack of goals and the effort that is missed, but it stems from a lack of applied consciousness.

Consciousness is a practice of applying more mindfulness to your circumstance and intention to your actions on a daily basis.

By increasing your consciousness with respect to your health for example, you would be adding in an extra layer to the goal setting process to bring more awareness and intention to your mindset and story, and this is ultimately where we see the shifts and change show up in life.

With the addition of the extra layers of consciousness to the goal setting process you can:

  • Better align your problems with solutions;
  • Become more aware of the underlying reasons to previous failure; and
  • Inspire more intent and purpose to action.
When I first sit down with clients in an initial coaching relationship, I take them down my 3-step goal setting process and it looks like this:
Step 1: Write your desired goal + timeframe + why
  • Add in a time frame/deadline which is more likely to keep you accountable.
  • Attach a purpose or why to your goal.


I want to lose 20lbs by Jan 1 because I’m going away on vacation and I want to rock my bikini.

I want to reach my healthy body weight within 90 days in proportion to my age, height, body type (ectomorph, mesomorph, endomorph) because I want to feel naturally healthy and energized to keep up with my kids.

I don’t have a specific weight target, but I want to gain muscle, lose fat, get strong so that I feel confident in my yoga and crossfit classes. I want to increase my self-esteem and confidence.

I want to cut my social media time down to 30 minutes/ day so that I can spend more time on reading and creative writing.

I want to cut out all processed and packaged foods in 3 months, to live a whole food lifestyle, because I want to reduce my trash and recycling.  I want to live a zero waste lifestyle.

Step 2: Pass your goal through the “is this going to work for ME filter?”

What have you tried already that hasn’t worked for you?

This is not the time to justify, make excuses, or prove how it’s not going to work for you.

  • Create a zero blame mindset: Keep asking yourself why it’s not going to work for you, maybe draw on past examples to dig up underlying reasons, and remember, it’s never your fault, the fault of someone else, or the fault of circumstance.
  • Create a healing mindset: Underlying reasons are typically buried deep within our consciousness and there is a reluctance to face them head on.  It is the basic reason for the quick fix, instant gratification, external validation, avoidance, and the overall reluctance to do the work of change. Avoidance to seek the real reasons often show up as ego-based stories, limiting mindsets, fears, or ingrained beliefs that have been learned through schooling, environment, and socialization.  Ultimately the conversation with ourself needs to shift from defence and protect to heal and renew.
  • Create a success mindset: Visualize your success and how you will make this time different.  What are some concrete steps and practices that will make this work within your reality.
Step 3: Affirm

Write down:

  • your goal + time frame + purpose/why.
    • I desire to____________________  + time Frame ______________ + because (your WHY)_____________________________.
  • how you will make it work + mindset shifts + what your success picture looks like.
    • By doing X, Y, and Z_________________,  I will change mindsets A, B, and C__________________, which will allow me to achieve (repeat goal)____________________.  My success picture looks like this:___________________________.

Reread and affirm this statement several times per day inspiring more intention to your actions.  Guaranteed by applying this practice of mindfulness and intention to your actions, you will be achieving those goals.

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