Setting Goals for the New Year - Ask Yourself Why with Each One
It's late December, which means it's that time everyone begins setting goals for the New Year. Goals can be really fun to set-- it's kind of like painting this ideal picture of yourself. It's imagining you but a better you. A version of you that exercises, or writes daily, or meditates 20 minutes a day, or learns the guitar... whatever is important to you.
Which is the point of this entire post today: What is important to you?
I know in the past I set a lot of goals for myself. I literally picture this amazing, happier, healthier and smarter version of me, and I think of all the things I'd like to do. I imagine myself finally becoming a morning person, and running and exercising every day, and meditating, and writing a novel, and being more present, and reading more books and so on and so on...
That's way too many goals to start off with. It's like hours of your time every single day. Between running, sleeping earlier, meditating, exercising, reading, and getting all my work done, it's just...a lot. It's not impossible, but it's very unlikely that I'm going to be able to introduce so much change all at once and actually have it stick around. That's problem number one.
The second problem is the much bigger one: Why do these goals matter to me? And follow-up, do they actually matter to me? Or am I just painting this ideal version of myself based on what the internet or Fast Co. magazine or my friends think I should do?
In other words, I have to ask myself: Why this goal? What's the end result? Why is it important that I meditate every day, or exercise every day, or become a morning person? When I start to dig deeper, I begin to realize that maybe some of these things aren't so important. And if they aren't important now before I do anything, how likely is it that they're going to be important enough when I act on them? If they aren't important now, they are never going to be important enough for me to put in the effort--for me to convert idea into action.
For example, this past year I had a lot of goals. I don't think I accomplished any of them and that's GREAT. Why is it great? Because I accomplished a whole lot of OTHER goals that were actually meaningful to me!
I went from working out about once every few weeks to spinning 6 to 9 hours per week. I went from never taking any walks to walking about 1.5 hours a day. I read books that I loved, and took the time to finish them and take notes on them. I bought a journal and started writing 3 positive experiences of the day and one thing I'm grateful for every night before I slept. I started writing out all my weekly tasks and working to finish as many of them as I could.
My point is I did a lot that I am really proud of this past year, and none of them were because I set any explicit goals. They all happened because I cared. I really cared to do these things because they all had meaning to me. I wanted to exercise because I wanted to feel healthier and look better in my clothes. I started loving walks because I could go out with my dog, and listen to podcasts and learn random facts every day. I started writing about positivity and gratitude in my journal because it made me feel better about the world, and it reminded me that there's still a lot of good out there despite all the craziness. I started writing my weekly tasks out because it helped me get closer to having a sustainable income (because I got more done!)
All of my "Whys" were really important, and very personal. They all had deep meaning to me. Looking back, none of those things were very hard to turn into habits. They just happened. It was super easy to introduce all that change into my life because I wanted that change to come.
When you go to set your goals, start first by asking yourself what really matters to you? What is the real purpose behind setting each goal? Be honest with yourself and dig deep. Set a vision for yourself and find that drive to do something meaningful. It will push you farther and faster into your goals than doing anything else.
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We hope you have a wonderful and safe holiday & New Year!