New Year’s a typical time to set goals, start fresh, and have what would seem to be a new beginning. But many of us start off the new year either excited to start a new focus or dreading making yet another goal that we know we will not be able to keep. For many of us we have experienced many years where we have an endless array of let downs because we have not been able to meet our goals with the results we had planned.
What if this year we decided to start with a clean slate? We let go of the frustrations of past goals that we did not achieve and begin to look at goal setting with a new perspective. Many thoughts, opinions and expectations go into helping or hindering our goal making process. Let us take a couple minutes to think about what might be helpful as we begin to work on making goals.
Beware of the Pressure.
Pressures to make goals can come from so many places. Sometimes it is from the people in our life who mean well but may not know what is best for us in this season. It can come from friends who are excited about their own goals and would love to have a friend to do them with. It can come from goals in progress that you may still want to work on. No matter where the motivation for setting a goal is coming from, the goal needs to be personal and meaningful to you. You will be the one who is working on this goal.
An example of pressure that we see during this time ever year is a surge in fitness in media all around us. Due to this pressure, we can see an increase focused on gym attendance. To help motivate people the gyms give promotional ads and free offers to encourage people to get into shape and to reach their fitness goals. While this is not a bad goal for many of us, if we are not choosing it for personal reasons it will be a difficult goal to stay with. For so many when April rolls around, and it is as though the initial fitness goal seems to have dwindled and many have moved on without completing the goals they set on Jan. 1st.
Should I Make Goals?
For most of us it is important to set goals, work towards something you want, something that brings you a little joy. But it is also important to understand that a goal is not something you will achieve in what would seem to be an instant. For example, many people will focus on getting healthy or maybe weight loss. Where so many of us get off track is we try to achieve what would seem more of an instant result instead of realizing that it will take time and consistency in working on our goals to regain our health and lose weight. Having realistic and measurable goals will help you stay with the journey and not give up so quickly when it takes longer than you thought it would.
Choosing Smaller Focuses.
For example, if you want to run a 26-mile marathon and you have never run before there are going to be many steps to take to train for the longer marathon. If you are new to running, maybe you want to walk a few days a week while or maybe you will start with running a 5k. Now that you have that bigger goal, what is something you can do every day to work towards it. What is realistic for your lifestyle? Can you wake up early and take a walk in the morning, are you an afternoon walker, during your lunch hour, or perhaps as the sun is setting you want to watch the sky change colors.
The other important thing to keep in mind when creating these goals is this: does this bring you joy, is it going to bring peace, will it help you get through the day? It makes no sense to set a goal that feels like a chore especially at the end of an extremely stressful day. Make your goal not only something achievable but something you look forward to at the end of your day.
Find the fun and happiness in your goal. Although a goal can be a task and daunting it is not supposed to be something that leaves you in a paralyzed state, ashamed and revisiting your perceived failure.
You Have Not Failed.
This brings us to another common misconception in setting a goal: if it is not this grand change in my life, it is not really a goal, and I have not really achieved anything. FALSE. If out of 365 days last year you walked a total of ten times, this year a goal maybe be to double that, or maybe you walk eleven times in a year. That my friends are an incredible feat and should not be overshadowed. It is all the small steps you have taken that will lead you to succeeding in your bigger goals.
Celebrate Your Wins.
Celebrate your wins no matter how small they may seem. Make it a game, challenge yourself, and celebrate your victory that day. Write it down once achieved, write down how you felt while you were in progress, write down how you felt before, and write down how it made you feel afterwards. Remember those moments of success and the inspiration you felt either during, before, or after. “I cannot believe that I just ran for 5 minutes without stopping—I can’t believe it!”. And do dare feel a bit of guilt for not being able to work as hard or achieving the same goal the following day. Pick back up as soon as you can and continue to move forward.
Need to Adjust.
Every day is not going to be the same, it is important you set small bite-size goals for yourself. If your resolution is to spend 3 days in the gym working hard but you only make it two and decide to maybe talk a walk the other day, that is a great success. You defeated the odds, despite everything your body was telling you that day to not go to the gym, to not workout, to just go home, you still took yourself out for a brief walk and got your legs moving, got your heart pumping.
That is not only dedication, but it is also a way you have begun to re-wire your thought process and your brains way of finding a new outlet for comfort. Instead of laying on the couch for 4 hours after a long day at work, you got up walked breathed the air and did something your body and mind were fighting against. That is an amazing goal achieved!
Goals Are a Lifelong Pursuit.
It is said that for people to create habits it takes about 21 days of consistent work and for people to lose that habit it only takes 3 days to get out of that routine. This is a farce, it takes a lifetime for us to change and maintain our habits, to achieve our goals and to find our success.
We spend a good majority of our life relearning what we have been made to believe about ourselves from our family, from the media, and from the world. In life it is important to remember goals are supposed to be challenging because they are supposed to make us grow. They are supposed to be ever-changing to challenge our way of thinking our lifestyles and creating a new narrative wherein which you are the star.
Not Sure Where to Start?
This New Year, challenge yourself, try something out of your comfort zone, take it off in small bites. And do not become discouraged because it is not exactly what you perceived it to be. You can do this!
If you are not sure where to start here are some small everyday goals to try out either alone or with a friend:
- Take 2 minutes, set a timer, and just close your eyes breathe deeply
- Every hour, get up from your desk and walk to get more water, walk to check in on a coworker, walk to the outside of your building
- Spend a few minutes in the morning stretching as you wake up, check in with your body, how are you feeling
- Every time you ready a page in a book, put a dollar in a jar, at the end of the month, count your dollars, and buy yourself a new book, and save the rest.
- Try to meal prep for one meal during the week—breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For example: overnight oats are as easy as measuring one cup of oats to one cup of your choice of liquid (recommended: oat, almond, or regular milk)
Share Your Goals and Your Progress.
Share your goals, tell us about your experience and where you have found success, or where even you have not met your goal. Because all of us have goals that are still unmet, and it is in that progress we find out what our success really is. If you need some help in making new goals, our therapists will brainstorm, encourage, and help you as you work towards a new goal this year. If you would like a little more information, please take a look here https://upstaterestorativecounseling.com/life-transitions/