Day Designer founder and creator, Whitney English, developed the proven HEART goals system – a simple, realistic, flexible goal-setting system – and here’s why!
“Years ago, I used a system called SMART goals, an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-related goals. But one day, I looked at my goal list and felt like I wasn’t doing any of it. On top of that, the list was very lopsided. All of my goals were business-related. I had no personal goals, no family goals, no relationship goals. And I thought to myself: this SMART goals thing doesn’t work. Traditional goal-setting was just not working for me. I was so far out of balance, and I started really thinking about it: What are the segments in my life that need my attention? Not only did I want to include these areas as I defined my goals, but I wanted to prioritize them higher. I developed a strategy that I now use instead of SMART goals, and I call it HEART goals. Using the HEART goals system has helped me create balanced goals. I use this method for both long- and short-term goals, and on a day-to-day basis. It’s really simple and it works.”
– Whitney English, founder of Day Designer
HEART goals are balanced goals that prevent you from moving in the wrong direction in life.
On a yearly basis, HEART goals move you toward your passions and interests while using your strengths and your values. When you implement HEART goals over the course of your life, you’ll find yourself moving into alignment with who you are and how you can best capitalize on your gifts. Use the HEART goals system to think about what progress you’d like to see in each of the areas below:
H – Help Yourself
This needs to come first. You have to take care of you. If you don’t take care of yourself, nobody else will.
One of the warning signs of an unbalanced life is that you don’t have time for self-care. When your goals are out of balance (or non-existent), you will find that you’re not taking care of yourself. People often get so wrapped up in other areas that they slowly sacrifice their own needs. Be aware of the warning signs.
It’s time to put yourself first – unapologetically. As you think about the ‘Help Yourself’ segment of HEART goals, think of the things that make you feel alive; the things that make you feel like you’re fulfilling your purpose. Allow time to spend by yourself. Rejuvenate.
This might mean getting enough sleep, soaking in a long bath, reading a book, meditation, or exercise. If you’re a mom, your kids are certainly a priority, but you need to make sure you’re allowing time to refuel. If you’re working a full-time job (and then some!), you need balance and it starts with self-care.
E – Everyone Else
People matter. The relationships in our lives are the most important things in our lives. This includes our immediate family, our extended family, and includes the people who we consider to be part of our family – whether there is a blood relationship or not. Are you investing in these relationships? They need to be nurtured, and we have to prioritize them.
This might mean setting regular date nights with your spouse, achieving milestones with your children, caring for your parents, and calling to check on a friend.
A – Attitude + Academics
Never stop learning. If you’re in school, you’re investing in your education and that’s a priority. But even if you are not in school, it is still important to constantly challenge yourself to learn and grow.
Balanced goals in life include continuous learning. Even if you’re just learning about yourself, you’re becoming more self-aware and growing as a person. ‘Attitude + Academics’ relates to not only your mind, but also your heart. Are you doing things that move you forward in life?
R – Resources
Steward your time, money, and energy well. These are our three most valuable resources. Look at what you’ve been given – the energy you’ve been given, the time you’ve been given, etc – and maximize those to the best of your abilities. If you’re doing all that you can on the day you’ve been given with the time you’ve been given, then that is totally enough. It’s all about how you manage it.
T – Trade + Career
Business comes last. The world often equates success with your career and your finances. The HEART goals system turns it around.
Now that we’ve introduced the acronym behind HEART goals, you’ll want to understand some key points:
1. Certain goals do not always fall into one segment. For example, serving at church might be in your ‘Help Yourself’ category as something that refuels you and helps you in the self-care aspect, or it might be more aligned with your ‘Attitude + Academics’ segment as something that you believe is important and something you’ll grow from. HEART goals are completely personal and flexible; there’s no right or wrong!
2. Apply a limit of 3 goals per letter at a time. Should you need extra goals, you can choose to have a wild card section with 3 additional goals. Overall, have no more than 18 goals at a time. This is an evolving list – complete one and add another.
3. We don’t advise putting a time barrier around your goals. We believe this sets you up for failure. We don’t recommend putting constraints around a goal that are going to limit you and discourage you. The best part about not setting a timeframe for your goals is that you can keep working on them – at a pace that works for you.
4. HEART goals are your active goals. The idea is either to make progress on a goal or get it off the goal list. Just because a goal isn’t written on the HEART goal list doesn’t mean that it’s not there. It can live on a separate list somewhere else to revisit in the long-term.
5. Create a task list for each goal, and identify the approximate amount of time that each task is going to take: 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes, 20 minutes. If you anticipate that a task will take longer than 20 minutes, break it down into even smaller tasks.
6. Give yourself grace! HEART goals is about not putting yourself in a system that works for others who have completely different resources and strengths. Do what works for you.
When to use HEART goals:
Ready? To get started, download our free HEART Goals Worksheet which will guide you and allow you to brainstorm goals you need to set. You’ll see that the HEART goals system can be applied to:
• Long-Term Goals: What do I want to do this year?
• Short-Term Goals: What do I want to do on a monthly or weekly basis?
• Daily Routines: What do I want to do on a day-to-day basis?
On a daily basis, we need to first think: What do I need to do for myself today? What do I need to do for my family? What do I need to do for my personal growth? How can I better manage my time, money, and energy today?
These first four segments of HEART goals will help us find balance in life. The fifth segment, business goals, come after.
Once you become acclimated with your HEART goals, you’ll be able to refer back to them to reset your mind when life feels out of balance. When you find yourself overwhelmed because you haven’t planned your day, you can run through your HEART goals anywhere (even in the shower or while driving) – or whenever life feels out of balance.
We hear every day from friends throughout the planner world that our HEART goals system is working for them. Defining your HEART goals and working to achieve them through a personal planning system will put you on a clear path to a well-designed life!
Have you felt out of balance lately? Would HEART goals make a difference in your life? We encourage you to share below!