A couple of weeks ago I did a presentation called Create Goals with Soul, with the help of a great book by Danielle LaPorte: The Desire Map. In preparation for the presentation I thought a lot about past goals. Specifically, I thought about how I felt once I achieved each goal and how I felt while I was pursuing my goal.

One goal I had in my life was to graduate from medical school. On graduation day, finally achieving that goal, I felt amazing. My whole family and a few close friends traveled to NYC to be with me for the graduation ceremony and the following lunch. I felt proud and happy, like I’d really accomplished something.

How did I feel while I was in medical school? What about when I was applying to medical school? I felt determined and focused, centered and grounded. There were certainly days when all I felt was exhausted, but I knew I was doing important work and was ready for the challenge.

I thought about a different goal I had in my life: to run a marathon.

How did I feel when I ran my first marathon? What about my eighth marathon? I felt joyful and happy, elated. I was high for days, even weeks, after I finished a marathon. Even that marathon I did at Walt Disney World when I was a fourth year in medical school. I had very little time to train and it took me over six hours to finish. While I felt nauseous and exhausted, I also felt truly grateful and happy and, yes, elated.

How did I feel when I was training for each marathon? Joyful and happy. Not wishing to be anywhere else but where I was. Every run felt a celebration to me.

When I think about Creating Goals with Soul, I realize that graduating from medical school and running marathons were both goals with soul for me. I can use both of those goals as benchmarks when I think about setting new goals.

These are my core desired feelings: I want to feel joyful, I want to feel elated, I want to feel grounded and centered.

No new goal for me unless it passes the test: When I think about achieving the goal, I need to feel joyful, elated, or centered. If it doesn’t, then something about the goal needs to change until I do feel that way.

Right now I’m thinking about signing up to do NaNo (= commit to writing 50,000 words of my novel in the month of November.) When I consider signing up for NaNo, I don’t feel joyful—I feel overwhelmed. Then I think about writing, I do feel joyful, and grounded. So, writing is a good goal, but NaNo isn’t going to work for me this year.

How do you want to feel when you achieve your next goal? How do you want to feel while you are achieving your next goal? 

Focus on the feeling and you will create your own goals with soul.