But what does that mean to reverse the process of making New Year’s resolutions or goals? Let’s take losing weight, which is a perennial favorite resolution, to illustrate.

Do you know anyone who has set a goal to lose weight? Did you ever ask that person why? Or if the person was you, what was your motivation?

Here’s what may surprise you. People with the same resolution set the goal for a multitude of reasons.

Someone wants to feel beautiful when she steps into her 25th high school reunion. Another wants to feel vibrant and energized so that they can run after their kids or grandkids. A different person wants to feel healthy. Someone else wants to stop hiding behind excess weight.

Each of these people hopes that losing weight will help them to feel a certain way, even if they don’t realize it.

So why do we start the New Year’s resolution or goal setting process with the goal first? Shouldn’t we reverse it and start with the feeling?

Yes, we should!

I had this “aha” moment while reading the Desire Map. According to the author, Danielle LaPorte:

“You’re not chasing the goal, you’re chasing the feeling you hope reaching the goal will give you.”

I have set New Year’s resolutions every year with varying degrees of success. I often felt that the process was missing something, but I couldn’t put my finger on it.

Sometimes going after a goal left me feeling stressed and not happy. Or I realized that once I reached the goal, I did not feel how I thought it would make me feel.

I had left feelings, or the “why,” out of the goal setting equation. Feelings were not part of my resolutions, to-do lists, and goals. After my “aha,” I decided to reverse how I set my goals by focusing on feelings first.

Here’s the crazy thing. Now that I focus on feelings I can disregard or change a goal if it is not helping me to feel the desired way.

How do you want to feel in 2018?

This question is the secret that will transform the way you make New Year’s Resolutions. Ready to get started?

Have you already made your resolutions for 2018?

Great job!

Step One: For each resolution you set, how did you want that goal to make you feel? Dig deep to get to the real reason why you set the goal. You want to get to the root of why you set the goal.

If you understand WHY you made the goal you have a better chance at success. There is a reason Simon Sinek’s TED talk on starting with why has over 4 million views. Do you see how important this is?

Step Two: Now ask yourself, “How do you want to feel in 2018?” Do the goals you already set help you to feel this way? If not, do you need a different resolution or to tweak it? Be honest with yourself. Your goals are for you and you alone.

Step Three: Can you generate those feelings while trying to achieve your goals? What can you do today, this week, or this month to feel those feelings and move you closer to achieving your goal?

Who doesn’t want to feel good? Let your goals help you to

If you have not yet set your goals, it is not too late. You can set your goals at any time.

Step One: Ask yourself, “How do you want to feel in 2018?”

Step Two: What will help you to feel that way? What habits or goals will help you to achieve this feeling?

Remember to look at all areas of your life. Here are some examples to inspire you.

Desire Map uses:

  • Livelihood & Lifestyle
  • Relationships & Society
  • Body & Wellness
  • Essence & Spirituality
  • Creativity & Learning

In Living Forward, Daniel Harkavy and Michael Hyatt use:

  • Circle of Being: Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical
  • Circle of Doing: Vocational. Avocational. Financial
  • Circle of Relating: Marital. Parental. Social

In Designing your life: How to live a well-lived joyful life, William Burnett and David Evans use:

  • Health
  • Work
  • Play
  • Love

Step Three: Choose three or four major goals or intentions for the year.

How to infuse your desired feelings into achieving your goals

Let me give you an example from my resolutions. I have a goal of exercising 30 or more minutes five days a week. Most days this means that I take a walk.

I want to feel deep connection, creative, curious, free, and hygge. (These are what those who use the Desire Map process refer to as core desired feelings.)

Before heading out for my walk, I ask myself how I want to feel? Depending on my answer, that changes how I walk.

How can I feel deep connection during a walk? My first choice is to invite a friend or loved one to join me for a walk in the woods. As we walk together and appreciate the nature around us, we can also talk. Some of my most important life decisions have been made during walks in the woods.

If I am by myself, I can still feel deep connection. I observe my environment — especially the season and weather — to feel a deeper connection outside of myself. Or I focus on my breath or footsteps to feel a deeper connection to myself and the present moment.

If I want to feel curious, I listen to podcasts that are on my stimulus list of subjects that interest me. Or I try a new route and see where that leads me. Or I walk my usual course in reverse.

To feel creative, I listen to inspiring music or an audiobook. Often I ask myself a question before the walk and mull it over getting closer to a solution with each step. Or I dictate ideas or writing on my phone’s note-taking app.

To feel free, I don’t insist on taking a walk at the same time every day. I usually go by myself so that another person’s schedule does not bind me. When I walk outside, I sometimes enjoy having no route in mind, so I am free to go where inspiration takes me. If I want to feel free to watch my favorite TV show during the day, I’ll walk on the treadmill.

To feel hygge, I will take a walk on a cold, sunny day wearing a cozy hat, warm jacket and gloves and have a cup of tea when I return. Or I will focus on the simple pleasures of observing the nature around me or the companionship of a good friend.


Lose weight. Exercise more. Spend less money, save more. Get a new job. Get organized. Do something more like reading or travel.

Yes, you can choose one of these popular resolutions. But make sure that they will help you feel the way you want to feel.

I hope that this way of thinking about New Year’s resolutions will make as much of a difference to you as it did to me. May you feel the way you want to feel in 2018!

Kelsey Cleveland is Desire Map facilitator who helps women in transition figure out how to set goals based on how they really want to feel. She is also a freelance writer who writes articles, essays and blog posts and is working on a book-length memoir.

Originally published at medium.com