Goal-Setting for Mental Health

Goal-Setting and Mindfulness: The Perfect Match For Long-Lasting Change

If you’ve felt discouraged by previous attempts at traditional goal-setting, particularly ambitious New Year’s resolutions, you’re not alone. The relentless pursuit of unrealistic goals has become ingrained in our culture, and it often exacts a toll on our mental well-being.

The solution? Shift your focus towards creating a mindful lifestyle rather than achieving lofty markers. In this blog, we’ll delve into the reasons why traditional goal-setting doesn’t always work and introduce you to a new approach; one that revolves around simplicity, sustainability, and, most importantly, protecting your precious mental health.

Important note: Mindfulness alone is not a substitute for professional help. If you or someone you know is experiencing a moment of crisis, please reach out to one of the following 24/7 helplines: 

– Suicide Call Back Service: 1300 659 467
– Lifeline: 13 11 14
– Open Arms: 1800-011-046

Why Traditional Goal-Setting Doesn’t Work

Many of us have experienced the allure of setting ambitious New Year’s resolutions—declarations to overhaul our lives in one grand sweep. But the pressure to meet these lofty benchmarks often takes a serious toll on our mental well-being. Instead of making life easier, they often contribute to stress, anxiety, and an inevitable sense of failure. 

The big issue? Traditional goal-setting approaches frequently take an all-or-nothing mindset. It’s not that we’re dreaming too big, but we often fail to break down the goals into manageable chunks. As a result, the sheer scale can become overwhelming. It’s akin to aspiring to conquer the entire Blue Mountains in a single day—perhaps an admirable goal, but also completely impractical.

What We Can Learn From Traditional Goal-Setting

One concept of traditional goal-setting, the SMART goal—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound—can be adapted to align with the principles of a mindful lifestyle. By infusing our smaller, manageable goals with the SMART criteria, we enhance their effectiveness. 

For instance, setting specific intentions for mindfulness activities, measuring progress in terms of consistency, ensuring achievability within your current routine, keeping relevance to your well-being in mind, and incorporating a gentle time-bound approach can all contribute to the success of your mindful living journey. It’s about combining the best of both worlds, leveraging the structure of SMART goals within the context of a more mindful and sustainable approach to well-being.

How To Create Mindful Goals (That Last!)

Drawing inspiration from Danielle LaPorte’s transformative book, “The Desire Map,” mindful goals begin first with the question, “How do I want to feel?” Whether it’s a sense of peace, fulfilment, or joy, by identifying these core feelings they become a guiding force for our goals. From here, every goal set should be in service to that feeling. For example, if you want to feel calm, then a mindful goal might be to do 5 minutes of conscious breathing every day. You can set yourself up for success by using the SMART method and breaking that down into smaller chunks or even mini-milestones. 

The big benefit of this way of goal-setting is that you’re less likely to set goals that are external (or based on someone else’s way of life). By tuning into your own core desires and how you really want to feel, you might be surprised at how different your goals look with this technique.

RELATED: 3 Breathing Techniques To Calm Your Body & Mind

Mindfulness Resources From Our Mental Health Partner, Calm

To elevate your mindful goal-setting journey, we’ve handpicked a collection of our favourite tracks available on the Calm app, a complimentary inclusion with all our programs. Dive into these resources to enhance your mindfulness practice and support you in achieving your goals. 

Supercharge Your Goal-Setting With Mindfulness

Mindfulness becomes a valuable companion in achieving lifestyle changes and reaching your goals. First off, as your self-awareness grows, your actions naturally align more closely with your intentions. Staying present and grounded ensures you stay true to your desires rather than someone else’s.

Moreover, when you visualise your end goal during moments of deep breaths or meditation, you not only strengthen your commitment but also approach challenges with a clearer and more composed mindset, setting the stage for a mindful and purposeful journey toward your aspirations.

As a bonus, these intentional moments of reflection create fresh neural pathways, reinforcing positive connections with your goals. Think of it as a friendly nudge to your brain, urging it to align with your aspirations and transforming the pursuit of your goals from a mere journey into a significant mindset shift.

RELATED: 4 Everyday Mindfulness Techniques

But What If Goal-Setting Didn’t Work In the Past?

Had a goal-setting setback in the past? Believe it or not, this is actually a good thing. Rather than dwelling on past missteps, view them as valuable lessons that contribute to your growth. Take a moment to reflect on what worked, what didn’t, and why. And then use that information to help mould your new strategy. By doing so, you not only gain insights into yourself but also pave the way for more informed and realistic goal-setting. 

Remember, it’s not about perfection; it’s about progress. Give yourself the grace to acknowledge that setbacks are a natural part of any journey and an opportunity for resilience and learning. With a mindful mindset, you can reframe past experiences, let go of self-judgement, and channel your energy towards the positive steps you’re taking now and in the future. (All of which is another form of mindfulness!)

RELATED: How To Build Resilience Through Mindfulness


Embarking on a journey towards mindful living is not just a shift in goal-setting; it’s a commitment to your well-being. As we bid farewell to the constraints of traditional, often overwhelming approaches, we welcome a new era—one that prioritises simplicity, sustainability, and, above all, safeguards your mental health.

In this exploration, we uncovered the pitfalls of traditional goal-setting, the adaptability of SMART goals to a mindful lifestyle, and the transformative potential of setting goals aligned with your core desired feelings. Mindfulness emerged as the silent force, aligning your actions with intentions, solidifying commitment, and paving a clear path to your aspirations.

We addressed setbacks not as failures but as stepping stones, shaping a strategy grounded in resilience and learning. In these moments, mindfulness isn’t just a practice; it’s a mindset that reframes experiences, fostering progress over perfection.

At Body & Mind, our commitment to your mental and emotional well-being extends beyond these words. Explore our programs, offering instant access to telehealth psychology and evidence-based mindfulness practices. As you proactively enhance your resilience through mindfulness, you not only navigate life’s challenges with greater ease but also unlock your full potential for a fulfilling and balanced life. Take the first step today. Learn more here.

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