Most of us set goals throughout life. We may even use the SMART goal framework. Some of these goals come to fruition, others linger in the ether of our ambitions. The difficulty lies not in creating goals, but in developing ones that genuinely represent our deepest desires and aspirations. Ones that are true to ourselves. This is where the idea of HEART goals can be transformative.
HEART is an acronym that stands for
- Harmonious Balance
- Emotional Significance
- Alignment to Purpose & Values
- Relational Importance
- Transformational Change
In this blog, we’ll unearth the potency of HEART goals and why they might be the golden key to unlocking a richly fulfilling life.
In our fast-paced, success-driven society, it’s effortless to find ourselves absorbed in one area of life, often work. However, this imbalance can create stress, burnout, and a profound feeling of dissatisfaction. HEART goals champion the principle of harmonious balance, emphasizing the need for equilibrium across all life areas: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.
Balance will be different for each of us. American painter, Thomas Kinkade, expressed his approach to harmonious balance:
Balance, peace, and joy are the fruit of a successful life. It starts with recognizing your talents and finding ways to serve others by using them.
Harmonious balance isn’t about perfection or evenly distributing your time amongst different responsibilities. Instead, it’s about making mindful decisions that align with your values and needs. A HEART goal in this regard might be ‘to achieve a harmonious lifestyle by dedicating quality time to relationships, career, self-care, and personal development’.
Conventional goal-setting often targets tangible outcomes, such as accumulating wealth or losing weight. While these goals have their place, they might lack the emotional significance crucial to fuel your motivation and fulfillment.
The co-founder of Apple, Steve Jobs, knew the key to doing your best was to focus on your passions:
The only way to do great work is to love what you do.
HEART goals encourage you to dig deeper, identifying the emotional resonance underlying your goals. It’s about pinpointing the feelings you wish to experience, not merely the results you wish to obtain. For instance, instead of a goal to ‘reach a six-figure salary’, a HEART goal could be ‘to achieve financial freedom, evoking a sense of security and serenity’. The key is to link your goals to what really matters to you.
Alignment to Purpose & Values
Being in touch with your purpose and values is crucial to a fulfilling life. Goals that align with your purpose and values tend to be more motivating and provide a greater sense of fulfillment upon attainment.
Unitarian minister and philosopher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, believed that being true to your purpose and values would transcend happiness:
Life’s purpose is not to be happy. It’s to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.
HEART goals urge you to contemplate your purpose and values, using them as a compass guiding your life’s journey. A goal aligned with these principles could be ‘to actively contribute to environmental sustainability in my everyday actions’, resonating deeply for those who value stewardship for nature and future generations.
As social creatures, our relationships play a significant role in shaping our well-being. However, traditional goal-setting often overlooks the importance of these relationships.
The founder of Creative Thinkers International, Aberjahni, emphasizes the importance of love guiding our actions, thoughts, and feelings:
We are not born to accommodate tyranny over our hearts, minds, bodies, or souls. We are here to confirm an abundance of love-inspired possibilities greater than such restrictions.
HEART goals fill this void, reminding us that goals can involve nurturing relationships, fostering connections, and positively impacting our communities. A relational HEART goal might be ‘to foster deep connections with my loved ones, enhancing shared understanding and mutual happiness’.
HEART goals are about growth, evolution, and constant betterment. Instead of maintaining the status quo, they push you to step out of your comfort zone and embrace transformational change.
Darren Hardy, the former publisher of SUCCESS magazine, suggests that one way to know a goal will be transformational is that it challenges the beliefs that hold you back:
Do the uncomfortable. Become comfortable with these acts. Prove to yourself that your limiting beliefs die a quick death if you will simply do what you feel uncomfortable doing.
A transformational HEART goal might be ‘to develop a growth mindset, viewing challenges as opportunities for learning and growth’. Such goals catapult you forward, igniting your journey towards becoming the best version of yourself.
The Journey to HEART Goals
Embarking on the journey toward HEART goals isn’t something that happens overnight. It requires an inward journey of introspection, self-reflection, and most importantly, honesty with oneself. You need to take a step back from the busyness of daily life and consider what truly matters to you. It demands asking yourself some important, potentially tough, questions: What do you deeply care about? What are your core values? How do you want to feel? What kind of legacy do you wish to leave?
While this process may initially be challenging and perhaps a bit uncomfortable, the rewards you stand to gain are immeasurable. HEART goals foster personal growth, holistic balance, and deep satisfaction in life.
Here are practical steps to help guide you on your journey to setting HEART goals:
1. Reflect: This is the first and most crucial step in setting HEART goals. Take time to introspect about your life’s desires, your motivations, and your personal values. This deep reflection will provide a solid foundation for your HEART goals.
2. Emotionalize your Goals: Unlike traditional goal setting, HEART goals emphasize the importance of emotional connection with your aspirations. Consider how you want to feel when you achieve your goals. This emotional attachment makes your goals more motivating and personally significant.
3. Adopt a Harmonious View: When setting HEART goals, ensure that they consider all areas of your life— such as, personal, professional, physical, and spiritual. Consider the impact a goal in one area of your life, such as work, can upset the balance with others, such as relationships. Strive for a harmony that aligns with your values and personal needs, rather than an unrealistic ideal of perfection.
4. Prioritize Relationships: In the HEART goals framework, relationships hold a significant place. Include goals that will foster deeper connections and more meaningful relationships with the people who matter to you. Identify supporters and those your goal could impact.
5. Embrace Transformation: HEART goals should push you towards growth and continuous improvement. Don’t shy away from setting goals that challenge you. Instead, welcome these opportunities for transformational change.
6. Write Them Down: Make your HEART goals tangible by putting them in writing. This act not only reinforces your commitment but also serves as a constant reminder of what you’re striving towards.
HEART goals that authentically combine most if not all aspects will create more motivation, more impact, and be more likely to succeed.
Once you’ve set your HEART goals, the journey doesn’t stop there. It’s essential to revisit and review these goals regularly. Life is a dynamic process, and your goals should be flexible enough to adapt to the changes that come your way. Adjust and tweak your goals as necessary, and remember that it’s not just okay if your goals evolve—it’s a positive sign of your personal growth.
And finally, while pursuing your HEART goals, don’t forget to celebrate your progress along the way. Each step you take towards your goals is an achievement worth recognizing and honoring. After all, the journey towards your goals is as rewarding as the destination itself.
The Impact of HEART Goals
HEART goals transcend the traditional goal-setting paradigm, introducing a more profound and meaningful approach. They urge you to look beyond mere outcomes, considering the emotions, values, relationships, and growth potential intertwined within your aspirations.
By adopting HEART goals, you align with a holistic vision for your life—one that encompasses all aspects of your existence. The result is more than a checklist of achievements. It’s a profound roadmap to a life of fulfillment.
Emerson reinforced that we each have the ability to chart our own path:
The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.
It’s time to shift focus from what you want to achieve to who you want to be and how you want to feel. That’s the beauty of HEART goals—they’re not just about reaching an endpoint, but also about enjoying the journey.
From the research done by Bronnie Ware for her book, The Top Five Regrets of the Dying, she found:
In the end, the number one thing that matters is: Did you live a life true to yourself?
HEART goals help us live true and to live well.
In conclusion, setting HEART goals is a deeply personal journey. Authenticity is key—align your goals with your true self and genuine desires. As you embark on this transformative journey, remember to exercise patience and self-compassion. The journey to living with HEART isn’t a sprint; it’s a marathon.
Enjoy the process, relish the journey, and keep in mind: the aim isn’t perfection but continuous progress towards a better, happier, and more fulfilled you.
If you find yourself doing what others want instead of following your own direction, read our short post, Be Who You Decide to Be. Don’t forget to write down your values and your dreams.