This post contains affiliate links but I’m writing about this topic because it’s near and dear to my heart and I hope it can be as transformational for you as it has been for moi.

We’ve been creating goals backwards for years. The Best Mindful Goal Setting Technique involves getting clear on how we want to feel in our lives first. Read on for a review of The Desire Map.

We've been creating goals backwards for years. The Best Mindful Goal Setting Technique involves getting clear on how we want to feel in our lives first. Read on for a review of The Desire Map. | @TheFoodieDietitian

Earlier this year, I went on a bit of a spiritual literary bender.

Evidence A:

Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 9.00.38 AM

You know how sometimes your eyes are bigger than your stomach? Well, my eyes were bigger than my brain because I’ve only finished two of these books so far: Body of Work: Finding the Thread That Ties Your Story Together by Pamela Slim (AWESOME career coaching book if you’re looking for some career inspiration) and The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul

by Danielle LaPorte.

I was turned on to Danielle LaPorte around the time that I started investigating B School by Marie Forleo and subscribing to all the things MarieTV. Love that woman. Well, Danielle and Marie are besties and business soul sistas so Danielle was promoting her books and services along with Marie’s B School.

Fast forward a month or so and I’m in Costa Rica on a yoga retreat and our instructor, Jenna, guided us through a goal setting exercise inspired by The Desire Map (which she was currently reading).

Review of the desire map 1

The exercise was this: write down your short-term and long-term goals. Go! Okay, now turn the page over and write down words that describe HOW you want to feel in your life. Awesome. Now, write your short-term and long-term goals based on those feelings you just identified. Meaning, what actions or goals will help you to achieve those feelings?

Welp. My two goal lists were completely different. With the first list we wrote, my short-term goals were focused on getting more work experience in different areas like writing and media. And starting my own business was on my long-term goal list. Then I identified how I wanted to feel in my life: balanced, whole. trusting, confident, authentic, genuine, joyful, excited, open, accomplished, loving. Once I used those feelings as the base of creating my goals, my goals shifted. Starting my own business got bumped up to the short-term goal list. Travel became more prevalent on my second list (Europe being short-term goal and a safari in Africa being a long-term goal). Other things non-work oriented showed up too. Like taking up a new hobby. Meditating regularly. Making my relationships a higher priority.

review of the desire map 2

So why the discrepancy between these two lists? Because I had goal setting backwards. In fact, most of us do. Most of us create and define our goals hoping that once we achieve these goals, we’ll feel great when we get there. Danielle LaPorte brings this goal setting conundrum to light in The Desire Map and makes us realize that we should actually first get clear on how how we want to feel in our lives and then set our intentions. This way, our core desired feelings inform how we plan our day, our year, our life.
As I mentioned before, I just (finally) finished The Desire Map: A Guide to Creating Goals with Soul


and highly recommend it to anyone. In fact, I highly recommend it for this time of year. As we approach the New Year, we’re up to our ears in goal setting. And before you dive into those goals, get some clarity on your feelings first. The book doubles as a workbook and really helps you get down to the core of your values and helps you narrow down your core desired feelings.

My core desired feelings are: connection, radiant, alive, and passion. Based on these feelings, I defined my intentions and goals for the year and was excited (and a little surprised) with what came up for me by putting these feelings first.

My intentions: 

1. Do more in the community (classes, workshops, volunteer).

2. Invest in learning (trainings, workshops around integrative nutrition, mindful eating, yoga).

3. Self-care comes first.

As Danielle recommended in the book, I try to recite my core desired feelings as a mantra every morning so that I have a clear intention of how I want to feel during the day. And I let them guide my to-do list, actions, and decisions throughout the day. Danielle also has some great follow-up worksheets (in the book and on her website) so that you can define your weekly to-do list based on those core desired feelings.

How do you define your goals? Do you have an idea of what your core desired feelings are?

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  1. Jen

    Kara! I just found your post through googling Danielle LaPorte and goal setting. I am a former facilitator of her work and ADORE all that she stands for. My CDF’s are Rapture, Contribution, Inspired. I use those as my filter for EVERYTHING in my life.

    I’m curious {as I’m seeking others opinions on this}…do you create business goals within the parameters of your CDF’s? Or do you just let your CDF’s be your guiding light? I’ve generally just allowed my CDF’s to do the filter work for me and I don’t set specific business goals. I’m feeling pulled to explore this further – but am deeply desiring to buck the traditional systems that people have in place! 😉

  2. michael argello

    how do we get your desire map guide

  3. I’m putting the Desire Map on my to-be-read list and will be making a list of my goals and how I want to feel in life! Thanks for sharing this, Kara 🙂 I have a feeling it’s going to be a good guide for me!

  4. I put the Desire Map on my Christmas List. Hopefully I will be reading it before the new year.

  5. This sounds like the perfect book to read BEFORE the new year. Although, I never make resolutions, because they set me up for failure. I do like this method, and I’m going to try it. Thank you.

    Costa Rica is truly one of the most beautiful and peaceful places on the planet. Seeing that picture made me want to be there.

  6. I love your Mindful Monday posts, I always feel so positive and inspired to take on the week after reading them! Definitely adding this to my list of books to read! The way I structure my goals is inspired by The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin, which I loved. I’ve been a bit lazy with my goals lately, though… gotta get back on it!

    • Aw, thank you so much Genevieve for putting a smile on my face. That means more to me than you know!

      I LOVED The Happiness Project. But I must admit, at the time I read it, I wasn’t so great about putting a plan into action. I would love to dig that book out again for some new inspiration.

  7. This is so great, especially for this time of year! I feel like so many people focus goals on looking better or making more money… but in the end will that lead to happiness or real, lasting success? Thanks for the inspiration on how to set goals with more meaning!

    • Love this post! It really opened my eyes to how goals should be set. I’m totally going to check out that book. I’m guilty of setting goals of how I think I’ll feel after I accomplish them, not how I’ll feel while I’m doing them!

    • Thanks, Emily! You’re not alone! I think we’ve all been setting goals that way for so long. I’m just thrilled that I’ve discovered a new angle on how to approach it. Happy reading and goal setting! xo

    • 100% agree, Elizabeth! Focusing on the feeling first, not the achievement, is the key taking control of how you feel in your life!

  8. This book really sounds like a must read- thanks for sharing!

  9. This post gave me goosebumps, Kara. I can’t wait to read the book — thanks so much for the recommendation. And I love Marie, and MarieTV, too 🙂

  10. Min

    Thank you so much for the recommendation, Kara. And I could totally relate to this…I certainly set goals for myself, but I’ve always wondered why when I achieve those goals, the end result is not as rewarding as I expected them to be. How do I want to feel? I shall start there..Thanks for this wonderful reminder, Kara!

    • Of course, friend! Happy to share! I’ve been there too. And it’s because we’ve been approaching goal setting backwards. Getting clear on how you want to feel first definitely transforms the process!

  11. I’ll have to add this to the list! I’m never big on setting goals exactly, but basing a list on your desires sounds interesting!

  12. Oh my gosh that view! 😀

    I definitely have to check that book out though. I’ve been reading the Secret book series by Rhonda Byrne which have helped me adapt a more positive/grateful outlook on life, but I could use a different perspective. Thanks for sharing!

    • Right?! Blue Spirit in Nosara, Costa Rica was one of the most beautiful places to do a yoga retreat.

      Secret book series? Never heard of it! Looking into it now! Thanks for sharing this 🙂

  13. Must read Daring Greatly.. it’s on my to-do list (hubs loved it)— have you listened to her Ted Talks?

  14. Kit

    Wonderful post, Kara! I will seek out these books.

  15. Thanks so much for sharing this today! This is perfect timing for me, exactly what I need. Currently searching for a full time job and growing my passion with the blog, happiness is on the top of my list, along with balance. Definitely going to check those books out!

  16. Always appreciate good books like that! I’m tackling The Power of Habit–it’s a must read. As in.

    I’m new here and an way pumped to find you!! What an amazing site!!

  17. I’ve already scheduled a completely free day in the next few weeks to just go through The Desire Map workbook again – I loved it! It really transformed how I viewed things this past year – when my core desired feelings were connected, vibrant, open, and flowing. The Desire Map is also like instant inspiration – when I need a boost, I’ll just open a page of that book.