As the New Year approaches, many of us have goals to quit smoking, take up exercise or reduce habits like overeating and drinking too much.
Hopefully we’ll stick to our resolutions but there are a few things we might need to rethink as the New Year continues, or if we are just starting.
What sounded great initially may not actually be attainable or even that important as the weeks pass by. It's a good idea to ask ourselves a few important questions:
1) Do I really need to prioritize this as a goal?
Sometimes we get on a roll and pick a lot of resolutions in the heat of the moment, as our good will and optimism soars. But we need to discriminate between what’s really important and what can be placed on the back burner for a while.
For example, if our home is dirty and disorganized, and we also want to lose 10 vanity pounds, then our home needs to be a priority. If we also need to pay down our massive credit card debt and paint a few rooms in our home, we need to set our weight loss and painting aside and work on our debts and home organization and cleanliness.
Having too many goals will make us Jack of all Goals and Master of None.
We are far better off working on two important goals than adding less vital, smaller ones that end up overwhelming us altogether — and before we know it, all our goals are thrown out the window and nothing is achieved. Make a list of priorities and work on the top two first.
2) Am I being realistic?
We’re very optimistic when we set our goals. Yes, we will lose 50 pounds by Memorial Day Weekend! Yes, we will have our cluttered home cleaned out by spring! And all debt will be paid off by the end of summer.
Really? Why the rush?
We need to give ourselves the full year or longer in order to achieve certain goals. While it’s great to have a certain deadline to strive for, it's also important that we make it a realistic one to avoid disappointment and self-blame.
If losing 100 pounds will get us to our target weight, then make it a year-long process so that two pounds of weight lost per week is our goal. This is achievable and realistic. Wanting it done by beach season may not be achievable, or even healthy.
We need to be focused but realistic about what can happen in a certain amount of time. Lofty goals are great on paper but in reality they can cause too much stress, and this stress can undermine the goal altogether. Be sensible when it comes to what you can do in any given amount of time.
3) Am I doing it for me, or others?
That’s a question we all need to ponder. Have your parents, in-laws or friends been buzzing in your ears for a long time about what they’d like to see you do? Get that Master’s degree, give yourself a total makeover or finally see the ancestral homeland?
These may be great things to accomplish but only if you genuinely want them. Goals set for us, by others, are more like instructions. We need to turn our lives around in the way that we see fit and in a way that is for us, not for the approval of others.
If you really don’t want to go back to school (and it won’t do your career much good but will land you in lots of debt) then don’t do it. If you can’t afford to go to Italy or Scotland then don’t. And if you’re happy with your home and how you look, then good for you!
Make sure your resolutions are what you deeply want for you. Otherwise you may set goals for the approval of others, but your heart won’t be in it, you’ll end up resentful and you will have wasted time on things that don’t matter, when you really could have spent it on what you really need or want.
4) After I reach my goal — What next?
So you work hard, put your heart and soul into your resolution and ta-dah! You did it! Give yourself a big pat on the back because you deserve it! Making a goal is easy, but achieving it isn’t. If you promised yourself a gift or treat then go ahead and enjoy it.
But...now what? The build up is great and the day or achievement is even better. But now it’s time to maintain that goal or increase it. If weight loss was the goal, maintaining it is important.
It might be time to up the ante a little. Increase or change your exercise routine or try for 10 more pounds if it’s warranted.
If your goal of clearing a debt is done, then make your next goal either clearing off another one or setting up a savings account, using the same amount of money you were using to clear the debt.
Complacency isn’t a good thing. We need to be kept on our toes when it comes to striving to be better as humans. Accomplishments validate our hard work, and assigning ourselves further resolutions will only increase our will to do better things with our lives.
Edited by Jody Smith