One Year, 350 hours, and 5 states: Why We All Need Goals
This week marks one year of teaching yoga at the studio I joined with after completing my YTT. When I think back to that first week’s class and how nervous I was, I can really see and feel the evolution.
It’s not surprising, really. Rationally, I know that we always improve at something the more we do it, the longer we are consistently practicing and working on it. However, I am always surprised at just how far one can come. I am able to enjoy the leading of each class now. I am able to make adjustments midstream without stress. I am able to decide last minute, based on who attends my class, that I need to do something completely different. I don’t plan as much as I did and know my own short-hand cues.
When I started, I had very few goals — survive, improve, and say yes. I started with what I wanted MOST — to have a class once a week that people attended. That was it. And, frankly, that was enough. That was the goal I needed to focus on at first. I have to find my tribe here, a community of people who wanted my approach to yoga, my unique voice.
To do that, I knew I would need to continue to improve, so another goal was to continue my personal practice and continue challenging myself (headstands and arm balances) with my personal sequences and by trying to maintain my creativity in designing my class sequences (creating at least two new sequences a week). I also knew that to continue to improve as a teacher and to find my tribe, I needed to say yes. If someone wanted yoga or had an idea, I was going to say yes if I could. And I did.
Looking back at my first year and into my second year, I am happy with where I am. I have a beautiful tribe of people who attend my classes. I have progressed with my personal practice. I am trusting my instincts more in sequencing and with themes and workshops. I would have never guessed that my first year of teaching would have included over 350 hours of teaching, averaging to almost an hour a day for the entire year. I would have never guessed that I would lead yoga for different groups in five different states (Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, Florida, and Maryland).
That’s not to say that everything “worked” this year as I hoped, that I met every goal. I had a few classes and offerings that didn’t meet the numbers I was wanting. I am still not as strong in my arm balances and inversions as I wish I were. My social media following numbers did not meet the goal I set. Not everything works out perfectly no matter how hard we work. That’s life and part of the process in goal setting and working toward goals.
It’s important to stop and take stock. Maybe it’s not always at an anniversary (like I am doing now) but at a time when things seem to slow or motivation is waning. Look around, see where you are, where you were, and how you are going to get where you want to be next. We need to re-assess and revise our goals at consistent intervals. Thinking about the areas of your own life, where are some that maybe need a refresh, restart? Work, your side hustle, your relationship, your finances?
We have all been told, I am sure, that setting goals is important, but sometimes it is hard to do when we feel like we are just getting started, or we don’t know what we were really want. Sometimes we also know that we need to set goals for work but haven’t considered the idea of setting goals in other areas of our lives. They benefit us there as well. For what is worth, here are a few of my tips for setting goals and moving forward.
1. Write them down/share them
If you don’t write them down, it’s easy to forget your goals and harder to check in on them and measure success as you go. You don’t need anything fancy — a post-it note would work great — just something you can keep handy to remind you why you are working hard, what the end goal is. Share them with your loved ones. They can help you brainstorm goals and how to achieve them and can inspire you on those lackluster days. They might also lovingly help hold your accountable to yourself.
- Don’t overthink it
Yes, goals are important to have, but they don’t need to be something perfectly worded or overly dramatic. They can be something simple and clear cut: Save $100/week. Teach 5 workshops this year. Go on one date night a month. Done. Those are great goals. Whatever speaks to you or comes to you — write it down. You can always revise or reword or delete or expand later.
- Make it measurable
For your own sanity, make sure your goal is something that you will know when you have met it. If you are vague or general — “I want my career to be successful” it is hard to know when that has been achieved. It’s easy to think you have never gotten there as your career progresses; it’s a moving target. But, in your first year of, say, a starting a career as a realtor, it is reasonable to set a number of sales or clients or amount you want to see in that first year. Then, when you reach that mark, you know it. You can then celebrate and set the next goal. Without something measurable, you miss the chance to celebrate.
4. One goal is a great place to start
One clear, measurable goal is better than nothing. If there is one thing you want, great. Write it down. The other, remaining steps might help you see how to break that goal into smaller, benchmark goals, but there is no need to force yourself into making ___ number of goals just because someone said that you should have a certain number. There are no rules. Have one, have 10; just make sure to have goals that you want to achieve.
5. Test them out
Test the goal, test the path. Get going on the goal as soon as you can so that you can tell early on if it speaks to you or not. Plus, you are usually never more motivated to reach a goal than when you are first setting it, so the more progress you can make now, the better. If they don’t speak to you in this early stage, see the next step.
6. It’s ok to scratch them out and start over
Maybe you set a goal, think it is a great goal, but a week later find that it is not motivating. OK, scratch it out. Start again. Make a new goal. That’s ok. Don’t keep a goal around if it isn’t working for you. Don’t scratch it out because you haven’t achieved it in a week. Goals are meant to be challenging. BUT if a goal isn’t speaking to you after some time, let it go and pursue one that does.
7. Celebrate successes before moving on
Because you set measurable goals, you will know when you reach them. Celebrate when you do! It doesn’t have to be anything major (but it could!). Treat yourself to a fancy coffee, a bottle of your favorite wine, or to a day off or even a nap. Whatever makes you feel rewarded. I bought a new yoga top when I was asked to lead yoga at a conference out of state. It was a goal to try and travel to teach yoga, and I felt great when I led the class in my new gear.
8. Plan the path as well as the destination
It’s not enough to have a destination, a goal. You also need to be able to envision how you think you could achieve it. You need to plan the steps. Maybe even plan the timeline of when each step should take place so that you can stay on track. Then, when you have your goal check-in you can see if the planned path is working or if adjustments need to be made. Crossing your fingers and hoping doesn’t do the trick, unfortunately.
9. Don’t let fear be your editor
When you are compiling your goal or goals, don’t be afraid to write something down because you think you won’t attain it, that it’s “too big” of a goal. These are goals to help you feel successful and be successful. What’s the worst that happens if you don’t meet the big goal you wanted? Even if you don’t fully meet it, I bet at check-in you will see that you got a lot closer than you maybe even thought you might and that the success you did reach is pretty extraordinary. We don’t always meet our goals. That’s ok. We can make adjustments at our check-in to try and revise the path and try again or maybe realize that this year or this quarter we want to try for something else. Don’t be afraid of big dreams and goals. Be afraid, instead, not to try for them.
10. Set a date to check-in
As you decide upon your goals and the path, also set a date that would be a reasonable time frame to check in on your progress. Give yourself enough time to have made progress but also to have had room for a few delays or setbacks. Build in some time for true assessment, and then be honest with yourself. What worked. What didn’t. Why and why not. Where do you need to go next. Make revisions. Add steps to the path. And then get back to work.
Sometimes we need fewer goals; sometimes we might need more goals; sometimes we need to add smaller, benchmark goals to help us reach the one, big goal we have in mind. I am in this process now….of trying to decide what goals I want and need for my second year of teaching yoga. It’s not enough to say that I want to keep going, keep doing what I am doing. We need to have tangible things to work toward and to know when we have achieved them.
So off I shall go, to work. Pen to paper. Dreaming about year two.
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