This week, I am piggy backing off of last week’s blog post topic to talk more about New Year’s resolutions. Specifically, we are going to discuss the “New Year New Me” trend that has been making its rounds on the internet for the last few weeks, and why I think this mindset is not at all effective for making lasting changes in your life. Hot take I know, but please hear me out!
I am aware I did just share my goals for the new year, but my issue with New Year’s resolutions is not with the goal setting aspect. I actually find it beautiful that everyone becomes so inspired to make changes in their lives in the new year. What is not aligned for me is the pressure and stress this time seems to invoke in many people, which leads to clouded judgment and decision making during the goal setting process.
UNREALISTIC GOALS KILL MOTIVATION
The fact of the matter is, most New Year’s resolutions end up failing…not because you are incapable of meeting your goals, but because the goals you are setting for yourself are unrealistic and overambitious. In the new year, people feel an innate pressure to change everything in their life all at once, and when they inevitably experience setbacks in this endeavor, their motivation to make changes dwindles over time. Once motivation disappears, it is only a matter of time before people abandon their goals altogether. It is important to remember that while it is easy to write down everything you want to accomplish in the next twelve months on paper, the process of executing on these goals is an entirely different animal.
WHY ARE WE SEEKING PERFECTION?
To make matters more complicated, not only are we setting unreasonable goals and standards for ourselves, but oftentimes we are basing them off our external reality (what we see other people doing) rather than our internal reality (what our soul desires).
When we set our New Year’s goals, we are often swept up into the fantasy of a “perfect” version of ourselves, living a life that in all likelihood isn’t actually what we want, but what we think we want based on what we are seeing outside of us. These perfect versions of ourselves do not take into account our present circumstances, our struggles, our limitations, and we are setting ourselves up for failure by refusing to acknowledge that there are any obstacles standing in our way, or expecting our journey to look the same as anyone else’s.
By now, you are probably starting to notice a pattern here, and understand why “New Year New Me” is actually setting you up to fail! Not only are we setting unrealistic goals for ourselves, but we are oftentimes setting goals based on societal pressure. But there is no need for despair, because I have some simple solutions to offer you, and a new mindset to adopt that can actually help you set and achieve your goals this year. So keep on reading for the tea!
STEP 1: TUNE OUT THE NOISE
First and foremost: tune out the noise. Stop looking around and determining what you want based on what you see other people doing. Instead, I want you to take time to reflect on the following four prompts:
- How do I want to feel this year?
- Who do I want to be this year?
- What do I want to receive this year?
- What do I want to give this year?
You can pause to write down answers to these questions, or you can save this reflection for another time. Either way, thinking through these prompts will help you get clear on what it is you want for yourself, rather than what it is you think you should want for yourself this year. Once you are clear on who you wish to be this year and what you want to feel, receive, and give, you can make REALISTIC and impactful goals for yourself.
STEP 2: MAKE YOUR GOALS MICRO
Step two: now here is the fun part! Work backwards from the ideal self you wish to manifest into existence and determine the SMALL incremental changes you need to make in your life to welcome in this version of you. And I mean small. Breaking your goals down into sizable chunks will be the key to your success. We need to get micro before we can go macro!
For example, say I determine through the thought exercise that I want to feel strong and confident at the gym, and I want to be someone who can navigate the weight floor easily. Rather than expecting myself to go from no exercise to lifting at the gym 5x a week tomorrow, I will start small. I will start with my first order of business, getting to the gym.
I don’t mean getting to the gym and forcing myself to endure a grueling workout. I mean goal number one is to just walk into the gym, even if I leave afterwards. After I accomplish this (and celebrate it!) I can set another goal for myself the following week, such as exercise at the gym for 30 minutes. And celebrate. You get the picture!
STEP 3: CELEBRATION CREATES MOMENTUM
It may seem counterintuitive, but setting small goals for yourself that you can easily accomplish will lead to positive feelings that encourage further instances of that behavior or habit. When we start to break our goals down into manageable, “bite sized” pieces and celebrate every single win, no matter how small, we will start to create positive momentum that will help make the changes you are implementing in your life actually stick.
So in my case, if I set a goal to hold my own in a room full of powerlifters on January 1st then punish myself for not embodying this version of myself by January 2nd, I will be proving to my inner critic that I can’t achieve my goals, and that I should just abandon them entirely. It will be really easy to break down and give up when I am operating from a place of punishment, rather than celebration. Instead, I should focus on what I can achieve right now, and focus on the good feelings I will experience each time I meet one of the small goals I’ve set for myself. And perhaps most importantly, trust myself that the rest will fall into place as long as I am consistent!
Eventually, your small habits and behaviors will evolve into long-lasting lifestyle changes that will bring you closer to your goals. And the best part is, this process will feel good, like a reward…rather than a punishment. You get to celebrate yourself every single day, instead of waiting until the end of the year to determine if you add up, or have done “enough.”
At the end of the day, you don’t need the new year to invite transitions and growth into your life, you can welcome that in at any time. But no matter what season you are in, you can embody your future self if you are willing to get clear on your goals, break them down into manageable action steps, and most importantly: be kind to yourself in the process. ANY step you make towards your goals is progress…it is better to take one step at a time, rather than five leaps forward followed by ten leaps back. Sustainable growth is the name of the game, baby!
I hope this was helpful, and I can’t wait to hear about your goals for the new year!
To living life wildly,