Defining Emotional Goals: Keys to Personal Growth

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Setting tolerable goals empowers oneself to find identifiable pathways to growth and success.

When I was in college, one of my greatest stabilizing mechanisms was writing lists upon lists upon lists. I would get so obsessed with organizing myself that I wouldn’t ever attend to what needed doing. Eventually, I turned my list-writing into a book-length project which helped me get into graduate school.

When beginning your journey towards personal growth, setting emotional goals can be among the strongest support mechanisms you can rely on to ensure your future delight.

Two bear cubs wrestling with each other. Courtesy of Melissa Freels and Brooks Falls.

Setting Realistic Emotional Goals

In beginning with setting goals, you’ll want to make sure you have a variety of accomplishable levels. Short-term, moderate, and long-term goals allow you to sustain yourself with meaningful accomplishments at any stage of your journey.

When it comes to setting emotional goals, though, the struggle lays in how transparent emotional goals tend to be. Say, long-term, you want to become more accepting of your weaknesses. No, really, say it aloud. A short term goal might be to identify a few weaknesses of yours, and a moderate term goal might be to willingly enter a situation where you do not feel proficient.

As is the theme in any Espial, the key that I’ve found to emotional development is in pairing proper planning with considerateness. One can not achieve emotional growth in the same way one might buy a dozen eggs – there must be a context.

You might still have the long-term goal of becoming more accepting of your weaknesses; however, you have to perceive how that might affect your interpersonal relationships and how you might need to communicate this goal. With changes in emotions, you’ll often be pairing these with changes in behavior and changes in behavior have the distinct power to throw people off who have grown comfortable with certain expectations from you.

This isn’t to say be bashful or shy away from your goals; instead, I encourage welcoming the complicated nature of communicating emotions through strong communication.

Complicated Emotions Complicating Success

No change happens overnight, no novel happens in its first draft, and no change gets communicated directly in its first iteration. When setting emotional goals for yourself, I highly encourage journaling alongside the process and reflecting on the daily or weekly interactions that fall into your goal’s domain:

  • How did you discuss your goal to your friends, a close coworker, or to your family this week?
  • Were any of these discussions framed differently?
  • With each successive conversation, did it feel like your intent became clearer, or more obfuscated?
  • How involved did you feel in pursuing your goal this week?

Make a ritual out of reflection so as to entice its duty with the delight of consistency. You might even find a bit of magic in tying some small, tangible reward to your ritual.

All instincts that do not discharge themselves outwardly tum inward-this is what I call the internalization of man: thus it was that man first developed what was later called his “soul.”

From Genealogy of Morals by Friedrich Nietzsche

Otherwise, when you are dealing with a subject like fear you may run into beguiling territories where the narratives you tell regarding your interactions and journey with fear are more obfuscating than they are clarifying.

Dedication and Intention Yield Results

As with any process, I highly encourage your deliberate attention. Picking the right time of day where you feel the most mindful and creatively open, determining the right people in your life to serve as curious complicators, and following through with your goals consistently are among the most you can do for yourself.

If you are looking to start with a bit more stability in your process for emotional growth, or want something tangible from which you can base your emotional goals on, consider checking out any of the Espials I have listed, perhaps start with Awe. I’ve carefully curated a group of readings and activities that I think would work well to encourage a deeper and more meaningful relationship with yourself and your world.

With the warmest lights always,