Emotional Goal-Setting: How All the Feels Can Fuel Progress

Atmosphere CoBoss Class One

Atmosphere CoBoss Class One

I’m not a particularly disciplined or consistent person. I operate well in spontaneity, following my daily energy peaks and valleys as they flow. Often, my feelings dictate what I’m able to accomplish in any given day –– if things feel heavy, it’s hard for me to focus. If I feel inspired and energized, my focus soars and my enthusiasm is unstoppable. For the longest time, I’ve seen my emotional nature as a weakness keeping me from being able to get things done. Because of my lack of interest in structure and routine, I’ve never really been big on systematic goal-setting, or really, goal-setting at all. I resist setting New Year’s resolutions, and rarely write goals down on paper. I’ve always rolled my eyes at goal-setting “techniques” even though I had never earnestly committed to trying them for myself.

When I was invited to participate in the 10-week CoBoss Goal-Setting Intensive at Atmosphere, I was hesitant to commit. Honestly, I only showed up to the first meeting because I wanted to show some moral support to Trent, who I work with closely as one of my clients.

Our first meeting involved six people sitting around a conference room table sharing the SMART goals they had written on a piece of paper with the group. As my turn to share approached, I had a bit of an internal panic trying to settle on one goal to focus on for 10 weeks. See, I walked into that meeting with a general feeling of overwhelm in my business. It was January 12th, meaning New Year’s Resolutions and setting aspirations for the year ahead had already been on my mind. At the time, I was about 6 months into being self-employed full time, and was coming out of a very tumultuous season in my personal life which slowed my progress in my business. I felt deflated and like goal-setting was the last thing I wanted to be doing, not to mention with a group of strangers.

I picked a goal that I felt decent about, and then after I shared it with the group, Trent asked me one last question that caught me off guard: “Thinking about the goal you just wrote down, how will it FEEL when this is accomplished in 10 weeks? Imagine yourself standing here in front of us on March 28th sharing your progress on this goal –– how does the idea of achieving this goal make you feel? What would it do for your business and your life if you achieved this goal?”

And just like that, I was hooked. In that moment I committed to actually diving into this CoBoss Program full-on, despite my skepticism. Besides, I thought, what did I actually have to lose?

We had a friendly competition at our final presentations, and my team of 3 won!

We had a friendly competition at our final presentations, and my team of 3 won!

The emotional connection I made with my goal that day turned into a very strong driving force for me over the course of the 10 weeks that followed, even on the days when I wanted to bail on the program altogether. Over and over again, I would come back to those future feelings of accomplishment that I described to the group and recount them back to myself, coaching myself out of complacency and into action.

Having to map out the practical steps that would help me achieve my goal and result in a positive emotional reward fueled my progress day by day. This goal-setting approach helped me leverage my highly emotional nature towards productivity, allowing me to see this part of myself as an asset to my business instead of a liability. And though I didn’t perfectly achieve my goal by the end of the CoBoss program, I did make massive progress, and more importantly, I got unstuck in my business and built strong positive momentum.

I’ve continued to bring this idea of “emotional goal-setting” into my everyday life. When I’m struggling to get motivated about a particular task, whether in my work or personally (filing taxes, for example), I’ll ask myself that critical question: “how will it feel once I’ve achieved this goal or accomplished this task?” Typically, the answer sparks just enough motivation to get me moving.

Now it’s your turn:

  • Choose any project or task you’re struggling to make progress on
  • Write down a SMART goal for that project (specific, measurable, achievable, results-focused, and time-bound). Download our worksheet for guidance through this step.
  • And then, write down a few thoughts on this question: “How will it feel when this goal is accomplished?”
  • Once you’ve written down all your answers, take a moment to close your eyes and visualize yourself as a success, think through the practical steps between here and there, imagine the emotions you’ll feel upon completion, and then commit yourself to getting it done.
  • If you want an extra layer of motivation, share your SMART goal with one or two people in your life who can help keep you accountable.

Ultimately, asking ourselves how we’ll feel about accomplishing our goals brings us back to our driving purpose. We’re really answering the questions: “Why does this matter to me? What’s the point of this pursuit?” If we have clear purpose plus an emotional connection to our goals, we’ll be more compelled to keep going, even when complacency tries to set in.


Need a little help with your SMART goal-setting? We made a simple guide to get you started.

Want to go through the CoBoss Program with like-minded professionals? The program is complimentary for all Atmosphere members and our next round begins on May 9th, 2018. 



Guest post by Melissa Huisman, Founder of Diamond Block.