I recently attended a weekend meditation retreat where the key words of contemplation were “daring” and “gentleness”. I think these words are useful to keep in mind when considering goal setting. We want to dare ourselves to go outside of our comfort zone, to see our true potential as a human beings and hopefully create a change to bring more joy into our world. It’s also important, however, with goal setting to be gentle with ourselves. Far too often we push ourselves too hard to get to the finish line, where we may put the finish line ahead of the journey. We may end up doing more harm than good for ourselves, all for that trophy at the end. 

Our goals and future aspirations are constantly in flux, and will change as we change, and deserve frequent revisitation. The only thing that’s consistent about life is inconsistency, and being gentle with ourselves can help make this reality much easier on us. You are allowed to revise a goal, and this does not equal failure. You are truly winning when you listen to the wisdom of your heart and follow the ever changing, unpredictable nature of life with openness and kindness to yourself and others.

As you go about your spring I encourage you to set some goals to give some structure to your daily efforts. But remind you to enjoy the process. For example, if you are doing a cleanse, really enjoy the process of finding new recipes and cooking new nourishing meals. Even if you don’t fully succeed with your cleanse, you have now added several new and healthy ideas to your recipe repertoire, which is wonderful in itself.

In Ayurveda “the science of life” a traditional medical practice over 5000 years old, they discuss 4 main goals/aims of life. It can be helpful to contemplate these aims to get a broad view of what areas you may want to put effort into in the coming season/year/decade. In our society today we have a tendency to get wrapped up in short vigorous hard to obtain goals. Just look at how many 21 day challenges there are out there on the internet! I encourage taking a step back and assessing what will bring you more sustainable happiness for the long term.

The four goals of life according to Ayurveda are:

Dharma: Means living your life purpose. Being true to your heart and doing you! 

Artha: Means security. We need to have a healthy environment, body and finances in order to feel grounded.

Kama: Means pleasure. We require balanced play to replenish our energy. 

Moksha: Means freedom. Usually referring to spirituality and connection with the universe.

You may find it useful to journal about each of these areas to get a sense of which one is lagging in your life at the current moment. This would be a great place to focus on making some goals. When we find balance between these 4 aims of life, we find bliss.

Once you set out your goals it helps tremendously to know your Ayurvedic constitution: are you a Vata (air), Kapha (earth) or Pitta (fire) type? This can tell you a lot about your personality type and how you may struggle with goal setting. Once you’re aware of the areas of weakness associated with your dosha then you can start working on overcoming them with simple suggestions. Click here to fill out a survey to find out your dosha https://www.banyanbotanicals.com/info/prakriti-quiz/

Now that you know your constitution lets look at the best ways to motivate yourself to obtain your goals according to Ayurveda.

Vata Types: Are great idea people. However this can lead to a scattered mind and the inability to focus on one particular area. My tips for achieving goals would be: to limit social media, focus on no more than 1 goal at a time breaking it down into 3 or so smaller sections, create a vision board to maintain focus on the goal at hand, consider trying a productivity technique like Pomodoro and keep your goals to yourself.

Pitta Types: Are the goal crushers. However this can lead to burnout and competitiveness and even anger. My tips for achieving goals would be: to meditate on the bigger picture as in the 4 aims of life, be gentle with yourself and enjoy the process, be spontaneous, connect to the hearts intuition and veer of the beaten path if need be, consider joining a meditation group.

Kapha Types: Are the consistent ones. However this can lead to being stuck in ones way even if it’s unhealthy or non-serving. My tips for achieving goals would be: to focus on doing it for a loved one or shock yourself by watching a documentary on the topic, get a friend to check in with to keep you on track, consider joining a program to help kick start a goal as you do well with consistent encouragement.

With all this said, go forth and be daring with your goals but remember to be gentle with the process. Perhaps start off this spring season with a new journal and pen selected especially for this goal setting occasion. Light a candle, connect the pen to paper and see what comes…

In health and wellness,

Dr. Tara 

PS. Please share any experience you have with goal setting below or on Facebook Dr. Tara Lapointe https://www.facebook.com/dartmouthnaturopathic/