NVC and Goals

Choosing The Life We Want in 2017


When the new year began, I asked myself these questions.

-What do I want the year 2017 to look like for me?

-How do I want to feel and be?

-What do I want to create or shed?

-How do I even begin to answer these questions?


Then came this question.

-Why do I feel anxious thinking about all of these questions?


Like many of you, I like to set goals and commitments for the new year to come. I want to add to the quality of my life and meet my needs in new ways while shedding the old ways that didn’t serve me. Yet I find myself feeling anxious about this process. I wonder “Am I setting myself up for success?” and “What does that even look like?”

This year I turned to my training in Nonviolent Communication to help me find the answers to my questions. I write this blog in hopes that you too can gain clarity in your own life about what serves you and what drags you down.


In 2016, I set a goal for myself to sign up for the gym. Did it happen? NOPE. I certainly thought about it a lot throughout the year, but I never even stepped foot inside the gym.

As I pondered on this, I began to feel anxious. I quickly asked myself those three famous words of my mentor, Thom Bond: What is that? I got curious about that anxiety swelling within me. First I needed to weed through all the judgements I was having about myself and others in order to get through to my needs. Then I discovered that keeping my integrity is really important to me. I told myself I would sign up for the gym, and I didn’t. Ugh. Ok fine. Now what?

The goal I created for myself, signing up for the gym, is a strategy to meet needs. Remember, everything we do, we do to satisfy some need(s). But what needs? Well, exercise is really important to me because I value health and well-being. Ok that was easy. Then this inner dialogue showed up.

My Judge:(said in a condescending tone) If exercise is so important to you, then why didn’t you get your butt to the gym?

My Compassion:(said with softness, an arm around my waist, and a warm smile). That’s a great question, Kat. Thanks for asking.

I thought about all the times I told myself I should go to the gym and sign up and then didn’t. Sometimes it was because I was too tired after a long work-day. Other times it was because the gym was too far away. Often I talked myself into believing I would just go run outside instead of on a treadmill at the gym. All this information (aka excuses) are rich with insight. There are more needs here than just wanting health and well-being. I want ease and peace of mind, too! I want to hold myself accountable when I am “just too tired,” and I want to get exercise without having to travel 20 minutes each way in my car.

So then what? I took all the needs that are really important to me and make my life more wonderful, wrote them all down, and came up with multiple strategies that could meet those needs. I have shared with you that I have needs for exercise, health, well-being, ease, peace of mind and integrity. I want to take care of my body in a way that works with my daily schedule, and I want to make sure I’m actually following through on exercising regularly. Some strategies that might meet these needs are

-sign up for the gym with a buddy

-join my local dance community (the studio is right down the street from where I live)

-get exercise in the morning before work (instead of after work when I’m too tired)

-buy a treadmill

-take up outdoor running


So you see, we can set ourselves up for success by first connecting to what is important to us. If we jump immediately to strategies that sound good, we might not be able to keep the agreements we make with ourselves. I encourage you to try out this practice yourself. If you have any insights, join my facebook page and tell me all about it. 🙂 


  1. Consider a goal you created for yourself in 2016 that you didn’t accomplish. Watch your mind play it’s story. Then notice what comes up for you? How do you feel as you think about this goal that you didn’t meet?
  2. What are your judgements? Are they directed at yourself or someone else? (e.g. If I wasn’t so lazy, I would have signed up for the gym. OR  If my boss hadn’t kept me so late at my job, I would have made it to the gym before they closed.)
  3. Consider that 2016 goal as a strategy. What needs were you trying to meet by using that strategy?
  4. What other strategies can you use to meet those needs you listed?



Note: Kat makes no claim that any of this is The Truth for anyone else. She writes to keep up her practice of NVC skills, which are always evolving, and to share her learning with others. This post may change at a later date.  If you have any questions or comments about this post, Kat welcomes your feedback. 

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