Resolutions. Goals. If these words haven’t been pushing their way to the forefront of your mind -past the thoughts of holiday parties, food, gifts, more food — then you, my friend, are one of a kind. For the rest of us, the New Year generally pulls our focus toward the new possibilities, aspirations, and lives we can start creating for ourselves with the turn of a new calendar year. For some, this opportunity incites feelings of excitement, determination, and even relief — that we can start anew. And for others, feelings of discouragement, resentment, and even dread surface as we think about all of the accomplishments we should be shooting for as we embark on the New Year.
Here is the thing: Goals should light our very being on fire. They should drive us to chase the things that make us feel alive at our core – all while inciting a feeling of balance and peace. They should be an outward reflection of our values and a personal reminder of our innermost desires and ambitions. Goals should invigorate, not suck the life out of us. While you can find goal-setting guidelines galore and endless books on the types of goals from SMART to CLEAR, we at More Than Healthy suggest three simple ways to set goals that are meaningful to YOU.
STOP SETTING GOALS FOR THE WRONG REASON
What is the number one killer of goals? No, it isn’t Netflix. Goals get killed when they are made for the wrong reasons. Whether born from outside expectations or to appease societal trends, these types of goals are doomed to fail. Not only are they not sustainable, but they also squash your authenticity, your values, and your own personal aspirations. You are here, in this time, in this place, for a specific reason. You have talents, qualities, quirks that are meant to be explored and expounded upon. Goals that are made for the right reason, with true intent and alignment to your values and passions, will foster a life of meaning and balance.
SET GOALS WITH THE JOURNEY IN MIND
We’ve all been there. When starting the goal-setting process, our minds tend to jump to that one moment. The one where we finally become the person we have aspired to be. Or accomplish the one thing that will merit all of the joy and happiness we’ve been longing for. Visualizing the end is not necessarily a bad thing. In fact, most goal-setting gurus encourage this type of fantasizing – AFTER goals have been set. But this seemingly innocuous practice leads us to set goals that may not be in line with how we truly want to live daily.
Goals are all about the journey– the small changes we experience day after day that align us more with ourselves, our passions, and values. Yes, goals typically have an end destination, but we spend most of our time in the pursuit of said aspirations. Because of this, we need to focus on how our goals will affect and inspire us daily. And this is where we will find meaning in our lives. So, while it is tempting to obsess on what the end results will be, or how the achievement of said goals will change everything, it is important to consider the following. If you cannot find peace and joy while striving for those accomplishments now, then what is the point?
DON’T BE AFRAID TO ADJUST
There’s a common misconception that once goals are set, we are bound to it for all eternity. No changes, no adjustments. What’s even worse is the fallacy that if you must adjust a goal, then you, my friend, have failed. Here is the truth: goals, like you, can and will change. Goals are dynamic, malleable, and must adjust to stay meaningful and relevant.
For instance, say you have the audacious dream to captain a dog sled team (I just finished watching Frozen with my niece for the 100th time, so bear with me). You are ecstatic. You bought your ticket to Middle Of Nowhere, Alaska, and are on your way. Once you’ve landed and pushed past the crowds of puffy coats grabbing their luggage, you take one step out on the tarmac and are greeted with the bone-penetrating, teeth-shattering Alaskan cold that completely encompasses you. In that moment, you quickly learn that you abhor the cold. But, you set the goal. You can’t back out now.
I don’t care who you are or how dedicated you are to accomplishing goals — there are aspirations that need to be adjusted. Sometimes your goals need to pivot to keep in line with who you truly are and what you truly want.
BRINGING IT ALL TOGETHER
Goals are meant to be the action plan that aligns us with our truest passions and dreams. These aspirations are our personal catalysts to finding greater alignment with our values and overall balance. They are not meant to appease anyone else or to satisfy the social trends. They are yours to cultivate, to grow – and yes, to adjust.