It’s around this time of year when all those bright, shiny goals and dreams start getting pushed aside. Now there are happy hours to rush to, work to finish up, and seemingly endless loads of laundry to do. So that awesome idea to meal prep on Sundays? And that other one to make meditation a daily thing? Oh, and that other one to call your sister once a week even though she annoys you? Yeah, those aren’t happening. But they can! And here’s why and how.

Many of us like the idea of starting over. New Year’s, birthdays, back to school…these are all markers of time that give us the calendared and collective option to wipe the proverbial slate clean and start fresh. What a relief! And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got a list or three going about places you’d like to travel and restaurants you’d like to try and people you’d like to keep up with. But what about when responsibilities and everything else gets in the way? What about when there are roadblocks and the big ol’ dreams you once envisioned crystal clear now appear foggy and far away?

Choose your goals:

For starters, Danielle LaPorte, author of The Desire Map, advocates for setting goals based on how you want to feel. She calls these “core desired feelings.” Do you want to feel adventurous? Peaceful? Creative? Alive? Set goals that will allow/help/create opportunities for you to feel that way and then you will. Want to feel courageous? Plan to expose yourself to things you fear (snakes? public speaking? asking for that raise?) Want to feel inspired? Step outside your self-made box and put “try something new” on your goal list. Want to feel lovable? Set up some self-care rituals. LaPorte reminds us, “you’re not chasing the goal itself—you’re chasing the feelings that you hope attaining the goals will give you.”

Put your intentions in writing:

Experts say writing down your goals makes them more achievable. Seeing is believing, after all. Put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and write down your desired feelings (three to five is recommended). From there, consider how you’ll get from point A (where you are currently/how you feel right now) to point B (where you’d like to be/how you’d like to feel). Maybe there are some small changes that can help you feel good. Maybe there are some big changes that need to take place. Perhaps that lofty goal of “getting in shape” can be whittled down to actually have meaning (more on setting smart goals below). And you needn’t wait until next January to write out some new intentions: each day, each hour, each breath is an opportunity to start over. Take a quiet moment and a deep breath and re-read, edit, and add to your list. You can do that right now.

Make your goals SMART:

Setting smart goals is extremely beneficial. Especially if you actually care to see progress. Smart goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely/time-bound. SMART. Rather than “get in shape,” choose a specific intention such as “decrease blood pressure” or “walk for thirty minutes, three times a week.” The goal clearly defines the result we want to achieve. These goals are also measureable: You can measure blood pressure and you’ll know if you have walked three times that week. You either do it or you don’t. The intention must also be attainable: ambitious but not out of the question. It might not be realistic to walk every single day for ninety minutes, but it is most likely possible for you to walk a few times a week for thirty. Ask if your goals are relevant: if you’re interested in simply lowering your blood pressure and walking more, it doesn’t make sense to set your goal as “run a marathon” or “hike Mt. Whitney.” Check to make sure this is a good time to work towards this goal: snowstorms got you inside all winter? Big important project at work? Perhaps this particular goal is best to start in another month. And do give your goal a start and end time; putting a time-stamp or due date on your goals makes them more measurable: “by May 1st I will be walking for thirty minutes three times a week (after which point I will reassess this goal).”

Tell a friend:

Also, grab a buddy. Studies have shown that telling someone your desires and dreams helps make them a reality. Find a friend to check in with regularly and help each other stay on track to achieve success. And remember, you can (and should) reassess your goals as often as you need to continue to feel how you truly wish to feel.

So, get out your dream journal, set aside some vision boarding time, and find an intention-setting pal! Decide how you’d like to feel, get SMART, put some plans in motion, and watch your dreams come true!

Lena is a California girl! She was born in Los Angeles, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area and came to San Diego for her undergrad studies at UC San Diego, where she completed a BA in Ethnic Studies, and hasn’t left. After dancing a lot of modern and jazz dance in high school and college, Lena found the physicality of yoga to be a delightful and challenging way to move the body without competition. She continued in graduate school at San Diego State University, where she completed an MA in Women’s Studies, and began a teaching credential program. Lena spent a few years teaching dance to children and serving as a member of AmeriCorps, before deciding to deepen her yoga practice. She is now so grateful to teach Hatha, Vinyasa, Restorative, Prenatal, and Children’s Yoga all over San Diego and lead local and international yoga + adventure retreats.