Each January there seems to be much talk about setting a goal or a new year’s resolution. There is often a big hoo ha about which is best, but we do know that both encourage growth in our lives, businesses or careers.

However, there are times when goals or new year’s resolutions can feel downright impossible. And maybe you don’t feel like setting one at all.

For example, you might be suffering with a serious illness or your partner or family member might be. Possibly you’ve lost someone you love. Even times like losing a home, as happened here in Cairns to a number of people after the cyclone. Or a relationship ending in divorce, you feel like your main focus is just trying to survive day to day. Definitely not on how you can enjoy more growth in your life.

And quite understandably too.

There is no way around stressful experiences like these, we must go through them. As we go through we might be craving that sense of certainty while things feel out of control. We just want to feel safe.

I’ve been through most of those situations I’ve mentioned, so I get it.

But rather than feel that helplessness because we have no control over what’s happening. There is a way we gain that sense of optimism when things seem bleak. It’s about building that feeling of certainty within ourselves even when things do feel quite hopeless.

At the beginning of the year if you don’t feel like setting goals then there are other ways you can feel like you’re moving forward. It’s definitely not about pushing yourself, but more about being inwardly gentle.

Set intentions instead of goals

The thought of setting a goal can feel incredibly harsh when immersed in a difficult long term situation. It can also feel totally impossible and out of reach. So at times like this I have found setting an intent a lot kinder and it feels like there is a possibility we can meet it.

November last year I was diagnosed with pneumonia after returning to Australia from the UK. Then early January just as I was finally beginning to breathe with more ease again, I caught the flu. There were moments that I definitely felt that sense of helplessness. Even in my favourite spot on the beach, I couldn’t get my head around setting goals. So I set an intent about who I want to be this year and that felt possible.

For instance you might set an intent to be kind to yourself or not to take things personally. Or to be aware of others feelings. Or to start each day with a positive outlook, or feeling energised.

Decide how you will fulfil your intent

This isn’t about creating a never ending to do list. When we’re hit with challenges the last thing we want is more things to do.

When we set an intent we need to think about how we will fulfil it. If we don’t then we’re just encouraging more feelings of hopelessness. I always say, choose one thing that speaks to you the most and feels doable.

For example; If your intent is to be kind to yourself or not take things personally, think about what you will do to silence your inner critic. That might be to journal whenever you have a moment like that. With an intent to start each day with a positive outlook, maybe you need to end the day thinking about all the good things in your life. Or possibly start your day by writing three things you’re grateful for.

Be realistic with your intentions

What I’ve found through life’s challenges is that things can change very quickly. This might mean it feels easier one day than another. That’s why we need to be realistic around any practices or intentions we’ve committed to.

Make it okay if you slip up sometimes. You’re not a robot you’re human and you’re going through a transitional experience even if it doesn’t feel like it right now.

In some instances you might find it more helpful to set daily intentions too. Because no two days are exactly the same and sometimes you just need to take it one day at a time. Especially if you have a serious illness or are supporting a loved one who does.

Give yourself a break don’t push yourself to set a goal if life feels chaotic or things feels hopeless right now. Be kind to yourself and be realistic. Know that life will get better eventually, set the intent for it to be. And maybe once you get to that stage you can then think about setting a goal.

Our mindset plays the biggest part in how optimistic and resilient we are through life’s greatest challenges and even when we have a goal we want to achieve. Working with a good coach can help you develop a very resourceful and supportive mindset. To see if coaching feels right for you right now, you are welcome to book an initial complimentary connect call HERE