Goal Setting with Intention in 2020

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Goal Setting with Intention in 2020

In a recent blog post, we provided a warm-up to help you discover how you feel — consciously or not — about setting new year’s resolutions. Here’s the exercise again in case you missed it:

Try completing the sentences quickly; fill in the blanks with the first word or words that come to mind.

  1. I think goal setting is…
  2. In the past, my experience with goal setting has been…
  3. I think the greatest value of planning is…
  4. The most success I have experienced in setting and achieving a goal was when…
  5. I find it difficult to set goals when…
  6. What I want to avoid in the future is…
  7. The person who has been the best role model for me in defining and pursuing a meaningful life is…

What emotions and thoughts came up? How do you feel about goal setting for 2020?

Excited? Motivated? Wary? Jaded? Cynical?

Often, we view having strong emotions as being a negative quality: For instance, when we sleep in instead of going to the gym before work, when we reach out to an ex, when we procrastinate… But emotions don’t always have to be bad influences. Love, compassion, sympathy, and loyalty are real strengths; our protective instincts and resolve to stand up for ourselves and others are strengths, too.

So, to show how you can embrace both your emotional side and analytical, rational side when goal setting this year, we’d like to introduce you to a favorite analogy of ours: the elephant and the rider.

The Elephant and the Rider

The elephant and the rider is first described in “The Happiness Hypothesis” by Jonathan Haidt and summarized in “Switch” by Chip and Dan Heath.

Our emotional side is an elephant, and our rational side its rider. The rider is perched atop the elephant, holding the reins and seeming to be in control. But this control is precarious because the rider is so small relative to the elephant. Anytime the elephant disagrees with the rider as to which to direction to take, the rider will lose, completely overmatched.

But here’s the deal: we need (and are) both the rider and the elephant. The point is not to squelch one or the other. To change things in 2020, you need both — the rider for the planning and direction, and the elephant for the energy and passion. A reluctant elephant and wheel-spinning rider will guarantee that nothing changes. But when they move together, change comes easily.

The whole point of this metaphor is to illustrate the power of guiding the elephant in the right direction. If you can do that, there’s no stopping you. We focus on emotion because it is such a powerful tool to keep you moving in a positive direction.

What Would an Enriched 2020 Look Like for You?

This year, as you define your ambitions for 2020, we encourage you to utilize both your emotional side and rational side — both your elephant and your rider. Just like how emotions and expertise both have a place in money matters, they both have a place in your goal setting.

If you’d like to learn more about goal setting and planning out your 2020, we invite you to subscribe to our newsletter or to participate in an upcoming Conversation Circle.

Wishing you a safe, warm holiday season, and happy holidays from all of us at The Humphreys Group!