Goal Setting For Desired Emotional States

by Jarrod

Photo credit John McGuire

Goals, goals, goals. All the time we are constantly told to envision the future, how we want it to be in 5 years, 1 year, 90 days and so on. While setting goals like this certainly provides us with a direction for our life, there is a certain element missing. The emotions we want to feel in life.

Our usual style of goals are end focused. At the end of September, I will be sitting in my favourite cafe, sipping from a vanilla milkshake as I have just had my first month earning over $10,000. Goals like this care not so much for how we feel on the journey. It is important to note that even these goals are actually just an expression of some physical circumstance that we feel will meet our emotional desires but that topic is for another post.

Right now I want to show you a new method for setting goals to experience an emotional state.

Goal Setting For Emotions

People often go and talk about wanting to feel a certain way in their life. They say things like:

  • I want to feel calm and relaxed
  • I want to be passionate and excited
  • I want to feel safe and secure

Which is great. After all, knowing how you want to be experiencing each moment of your life is most of the journey for doing it. However we still want to be able to get very specific in order to know exactly what the goal is.

Here I am only going to talk about setting goals for how you want to be. If there are emotional states that you no longer want to experience for the purpose of this exercise, flip them over and frame them how you want to be.

Get Specific About The Emotional State

Lets take a more specific look at the emotional state of calm and relaxed.

How will you know when you are in the desired state of calm and relaxed?

If your answer is, I just know what it feels like then we need to do some work here.

Go back into your memory and find a time when you felt a certain way, if you don’t have one imagine what it would be like or take clues off someone you know feels that way. Then with this memory in mind describe what is happening in the following areas:

  • Thoughts
  • Inner Body
  • Actions

How will your thoughts be when  you are calm and relaxed? I would imagine that the rate of thought is much slower, there are gaps between each thought. When outside events occur the ripple in my mind is only subtle. My thoughts have a soothing vocal quality to them.

How will your inner body be experiencing calm and relaxed? How will your chest feel. Will it be feeling cool or hot? Will it be busy with rapid energy or quiet like a still lake. I use inner body to refer to this area as we are already using emotion as the higher level term capturing the concept of how we want to feel. Inner body is used to describe the specific internal sensations we want to experience.

How will your actions be when you are calm and relaxed? Will your hand gestures be fast and strong or gentle and soft? Will your voice be loud and commanding or soft and soothing? Will your shoulders be raised or lowered? Will you be smiling and have shining eyes, or a relaxed and open expression?

Once you have defined all of these then you are almost ready to describe your goal.

Know When You Want To Feel It

Every different situation in life requires a slightly different emotional state in order for us to respond in exactly the way we want.

You have to be aware of conflicting desires, states that you cannot experience at the same time. An example is wanting to feel passionate, excited and bubbling with energy while at the same time wanting to feel at peace, calm, tranquil and relaxed. They are somewhat opposite states that we cannot feel simultaneously.

Because of this we need to define when we want to feel this way. Now with emotions the concept of when is different to normal goal setting. Normal goal setting would say you want to feel a certain way in 3 months, start of next year or march 2015. With emotional states you need to define the trigger that determines when you will enter that state.

A trigger is a physical and/or mental action that you can fire.

A go a lot further into this in getting instantly to emotional states so here is the short version.

Choose a unique action. It could be pressing hard between the last knuckles of your left hand, pinching the end of one of your fingers or using a set phrase to say in your mind. When starting out I would recommend using a physical sensation and later on you can then link that through to thoughts for even easier access.

By setting up something unique like this you have full power to both condition it into your mind and body and also to access it whenever you feel you need it.

Setting The Goal

Now you can finally write down that goal.

When I push between my last set of knuckles on my left hand I will experience a sense of energy and excitement. In my chest area there will be a feeling of rushing energy and it will flow up my body through my arms and face. I will have a huge smile on my face and my eyes will sparkle. My upper body will feel bursting with energy and the muscles will be dying to take action.

When you are ready to access that emotional state instantly visit this page for the technique.

Let me know what goals you have set in the comments.

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Debbie @ Happy Maker October 26, 2010 at 9:11 am

Goal setting for emotions. This is good. We are always taught about person gain goals, but not emotions. If you don’t have the emotions with your goals, they just may not happen. Nice article and it has a lot of truth in it. I am going to go set my emotional goals now. Thanks,


Jarrod October 26, 2010 at 7:18 pm

@Debbie: Nice to meet you, have fun with the directions of your emotional goals.

Farouk October 26, 2010 at 6:41 pm

i like the idea
thanks for the post :)


Jarrod October 26, 2010 at 7:19 pm

@Farouk: Good to see you around again Farouk, interested in hearing what you liked about the idea.

Keith October 27, 2010 at 12:18 am

Hello Jarrod,

Very good article. This reminds me of the concept of pain association. By that I mean, everyone associates pain/discomfort/displeasure to certain actions. Often times, a person may set a goal but then fail to carry it out. Why is this? Because they associated more pain to the effort of pursuing the goal than they did to not pursuing it at all. If we become aware of this concept, we can use it to our advantage.

I like this statement you made “You have to be aware of conflicting desires, states that you cannot experience at the same time. ” This is very useful information.
Again, great job with this article. I know you have helped peple with it.


Jarrod October 27, 2010 at 7:11 pm

@Keith: Nice to have you drop by Keith.

Motivation or demotivation due to perceived expectation of pain certainly exists. I’m curious how you would use this in our particular example of goals for emotions.

Thanks again for the kind words.

Sandeep November 9, 2015 at 3:15 am

I myself was trying with this idea but was failing. Your words have put the things bit more straight. I would to like add that most of us are unable to identify our current emotions and sought after emotions. I think every should have emotions cycle chart to clearly identify the emotion sought and then work on with methods etc to reach out.


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