Moving Forward: A process for holistic goal setting

Welcome, friend! If you’ve Googled your way here and are looking for magic ways to set a goal and get it done in record time, please save your time and press the back button to return to your search results. 

However, if you’re looking to understand a big-picture process to create change in your life and are willing to entertain the idea that it might be complex and multifaceted (and messy), then continue reading, my friend. You’re in the right place! 

As I write this, spring has barely sprung in Alaska. The temps have warmed and we have 16+ hours of daylight but the green has yet to appear. It’s late. Where are the leaves, Mother Nature?!?

It feels a bit like being in limbo. Again.

Because we’ve all been in limbo this past year. I don’t know a single person whose life hasn’t been affected by the pandemic. This has made planning and goals VERY erratic.

All this limbo-ness becomes very important to acknowledge as we seek to grow, plan projects and achieve goals. And the truth is that life often brings us messes (albeit on a smaller scale).

And, as humans, WE’RE often messes. 

So, it’s important to take all of this into account when goal setting. We’re not robots, after all!

With this in mind, let’s talk about the three phases for setting goals and getting things done.

The 3 Phases for Holistic Goal Setting

  1. Understand where you are
  2. Clear the path
  3. Take action

I’ve based these steps on my background in Ayurvedic medicine, Yoga philosophy, life coaching and working with clients.

#1 Understanding where you are

In Ayurveda, we understand the world and ourselves in terms of patterns of nature, called the Doshas. We can see the Doshas all around and within us and they can have positive or negative influences on our sense of well-being and balance. Like with the seasons, we clearly distinguish the difference between winter and summer and that each season has qualities that support us and that aggravate us. And even those effects depend on what you’re sensitive to. For example, some people love the cold and some people don’t. 

The Dosha onion depicted gives you a sense of some of the primary influences you feel in your life. Can you see how complex staying in balance can be when you have all of these energetic forces at play?

Life circumstances (like a pandemic or social injustice or personal trauma) can have a big influence on your own personal balance. 

Your level of stress and well-being affect your ability to efficiently set and reach goals.

Noticing where your stress levels are at (how “on” your nervous system is) can be a good entry point to understanding how ready you are to jump into goal setting. If you’re feeling jacked, then honey, that’s going to be the best place to put your attention.

In Ayurveda, we call this having a Dosha (or two or three!) aggravated) and it’s important to identify this and work on bringing things back into balance first.

#2 Clearing the path

This phase is all about healing so you can create a strong foundation to build your goals on. We often call this getting unstuck or unblocked. While you might bring in some new habits to make this happen, it’s primarily about doing healing work on the level of the mind and emotions.

We’re looking to calm the nervous system, increase your resiliency to stress and get your mind into a greater state of calmness.

Things you might do in this phase to clear the path:

  • Do less. Consume less. Sleep more. Go on vacation. Take a tech break. Go part-time.
  • Nourish yourself with higher quality food than usual.
  • See a therapist and do some trauma work.
  • Get super familiar with your negative thinking patterns and techniques to interrupt them.
  • Get bodywork done weekly or more.
  • Explore and feel your negative feelings. This can be done through therapy, life coaching, tapping or personal meditation time.
  • Take herbs or even prescription medicine to balance brain chemistry.
  • Do thoughtful, regular movement like daily walks, going to yoga or Qigong.
  • Spend time in nature.

As you can imagine, healing and goal setting often become intertwined but the primary aim at this point is soothing and coming home to yourself not on reaching big hairy audacious goals.

By coming back to your natural state of balance, you’ll not only gain more strength but will also gain greater clarity around what you want to achieve in your life. 

#3 Take action

At this phase, traditional goal setting techniques become much more effective. You’ve cleared away a lot of the major roadblocks and learned techniques to deal with them as they reappear along your journey (they will)!

While I won’t go into how to set goals here (Google already has plenty to say about that), I’d like to share a few key practices that I’ve found help my clients be successful:

  • Daily mindset work to align your thinking with your goals
  • Learning how to create emotions like motivation and determination that will fuel the actions needed to get the result you want
  • Being ultra-alert for self-destructive thought patterns and knowing when to give them space and when to let them go
  • Self-care practices to manage stress and stay in your personal power
  • Connection to something more than yourself (it could be likeminded people, a coach, a philosophy, a spirit guide, nature, etc)


Moving from phase 1 Understanding where you are to phase 3 Taking action is really a process of being kind to yourself and changing what you think, feel and do. 

This is big work. Often, it’s the work of your life – for a lifetime… or, as I’m beginning to say more and more, it’s a way of life.

If this approach sounds like something that could help you, you’re welcome to schedule a free coaching session with me. It’s a powerful conversation about any problem you’re experiencing in your life. I’ll provide support, coaching and deep listening. Learn more here.