When you look back on the past calendar quarter, consider what you actually got done, even if your actions and behaviors didn’t align well with your stated goals. Your time went somewhere, so where did it actually go?

Use the lens of seeing everything you did as an accomplishment, even if your main achievement was watching Game of Thrones. Instead of beating yourself up for what you didn’t do, take a deeper look at what you did do.

So then your achievements might actually look like:

  • Watch Game of Thrones.
  • Spend two hours per day on Facebook.
  • Exercise sporadically, averaging about 30 minutes per week, mostly Yoga with Adriene videos.
  • Gain 10 pounds of fat.
  • And so on…

Now consider what goals you would have set at the start of the quarter if you wanted to match what you actually did during those three months. Take a step back from the actions, and see if you can connect them with a grander meaning. Why did you do these items? What did you gain from them? These are your hidden goals.

For example, your hidden goals based on the actions above might be:

  • Take a break from the world each day with a deep dive into fantasy entertainment.
  • Leverage the benefits of online socializing each day, so I can feel connected to people while also keeping my distance, thereby allowing me to have plenty of flexible alone time.
  • Let my body go a bit, so I can use that as a reason for not going out as much instead of having to focus on the virus situation. Also give me a reason to continue staying home even when the virus situation clears up.

Try to put a semi-positive frame on each hidden goal. Consider that you may have done what you did because you overlooked important desires that weren’t represented in your stated goals.

Maybe you actually did want to spend more time alone. Maybe you did want more downtime. Maybe what you actually did wasn’t just procrastination – maybe your actions were purposeful in ways you didn’t necessarily see as you went through the quarter.

Use what you learn from this while considering your goals for the next quarter. Would you like to elevate one or more of your hidden goals to give them a better form of deliberate expression?

For instance:

  • Do a deep dive into fantasy by reading all of the Harry Potter books in order.
  • Do a 30-day challenge of inviting a 30-minute Zoom call with a different Facebook friend each day, so I get to connect with people more deeply.
  • Go vegan for the next 90 days, and spend about two hours every Saturday experimenting in the kitchen with different recipes while streaming appealing Netflix series in the background.

By noticing where your time actually went and considering that it may have been purposeful, you can reveal desires that you may have been denying, and then you can give those desires more conscious forms of expression.

You may also discover that your hidden goals reveal hidden fears. Perhaps you’re not feeling ready to face your other goals, and you need to build more readiness first.

Sometimes our stated goals are overly narrow. Other desires still demand expression, and if we ignore them when setting goals, they’ll just express themselves through less conscious behavior patterns.

If you give more deliberate expression to your hidden goals, you can potentially satisfy a wider range of desires. Balancing your goals can help you balance your behaviors and therefore your results as well.