It’s that time of year again!
Moving into the new year is a great time to start with a fresh perspective and maybe set some goals to get us closer to the life we want.
I wrote a comprehensive guide to creating and setting goals and then I used it for myself and today is day #1! I have three different goals set out, 1 personal development, 1 admin and 1 lifestyle change. That even distribution wasn’t on purpose, it’s just what I naturally ended up with after working through the process of seeing what was lacking and where I wanted to go. If you’re interested, there’s a link to a large preview of the goal guide below.
I realised as I was writing the guide how important it is for our goals to be in line with who we are and our overall goals for our lives. It helps keep us motivated and find our willpower on those difficult/ grey/ blah days when we’d rather stay in bed/ on the phone/ in a food coma perhaps.
Because I coach people I see some stumbling blocks come up all the time and you can read all about them in the preview, so I won’t repeat myself here. But I do want to let you know about a couple of other ones people often come up against early on in their journey towards their goals.
- Setting a goal that you’ve often set before and often abandoned
This may be a great goal, but if you don’t figure out the sticking point or other reason you gave up the other times, it may be hard to see it through this time. This is not true 100% of the time, sometimes a person has grown more determined, resilient or engaged with their goal and this time they break through. But to make that more likely, take some time to reflect on what you tripped you up last time and see if you can put something in place (i.e. rewards, support, a process) to get you through that tricky stage and on to the delights of new territory – which is intrinsically very rewarding
2. Setting a goal you don’t have much confidence in
Maybe it’s a sensible goal, maybe you don’t think you can do it, or maybe you don’t really want it. Whatever the reason, you are not feeling a lot of conviction in it and maybe you’re even trying to compensate by appearing enthusiastic when you’re not, or spending loads on equipment or other, to try and compensate for your lack of conviction. Maybe take some time to go back to basics and figure out what you want deep down. If you do deeply desire this outcome, find ways to bolster your confidence and feel like you can really achieve it and that you really deserve it too.
3. Working towards a goal you know is right, but that you feel resistant to
We all deserve great things and we also know that they take consistent effort and dedication. However, many of us can: feel undeserving deep down, want to avoid change, want to avoid taking responsibility, fear failure, fear success, fear vulnerability ( perhaps from intimacy or increased visibility) or worry about the things we’ll lose when we gain something new.
There’s no way around it – when we gain something we usually lose something else. For example – if we gain confidence we lose excuses not to take action and stay in our comfort zone. On the plus side we’re often only losing things that aren’t right for us any more – think how heavy we’d be if we didn’t shed things as we gained new ones. But it’s human nature to get attached to things, so don’t give yourself a hard time. Just know that you’re not losing anything that makes you you, when you gain something that’s right for you.
Feeling worthy of good things can also be hard. If we weren’t brought up feeling worthwhile then taking action can move us forward, but then our inner state can snap us right back again. Taking small steps, getting the support you need, practicing self-care and celebrating your small wins (which may actually be huge to you) along the way will help you to progress without feeling you’re pretending. At a sustainable level of progress your inner state will be fairly evenly matched with your outer state and achievements. And don’t worry if this isn’t the case yet, it can be a journey for many of us. Just try not to jump out of your inner issues by leaping forward with drastic action that doesn’t align with who you are, as you may feel lost or untethered. Just keep making those small, genuine steps forward towards goals that are as big or small as you can work with.
4. Starting a goal expecting to fail
You’d be surprised how common this is. It can be hard for many of us to leave our comfort zones and for some of us that comfort zone may be a specific idea of where our limits lie. In some people that shows up as never taking action, while for others it looks like appearing to take action but knowing deep down you don’t really want to achieve your goal. Why would we do this? For a while it appeases the part of us that wants to progress, as well as the part that doesn’t. It also gives us something to talk about with others and a temporary diversion. I’ve noticed an underlying feeling of not having the resources to actually change (whether this is courage, intelligence, strength, worth or other). But we all have the resources to achieve the things we are genuinely drawn to – perhaps not always our version of them (i.e. fastest runner in the whole world or most famous actor), but a version of them (i.e. fast runner or talented actor).
I’ve known people to get quite angry when directly challenged about this, as if this cycle has become a part of their personality. Difficult habits are never who we are deep down, so if you relate to this just know that with the right support you can actually make lasting progress towards something that is meaningful to you. I’d recommend it is meaningful first because people with this issue may feel insecure and try to cure that with a win that isn’t necessarily right for them (see the point below).
5. Going after a goal you think will get you something you want (but actually won’t)
Sometimes we have a feeling and rightly let this spur us into action. But sometimes it’s worth taking a moment to make sure we’re taking the right kind of action. Real change is hard and patch fixes can be alluringly simple – they offer the promise of feeling better without having to actually change our thoughts or behavior very much. But in the long-term they are not satisfying and they can contribute to a widening gap between who we really are and how we experience ourselves.
For example, someone who feels bad about themselves may feel very drawn to dating a supermodel. It will help them feel more successful and attractive themselves, according to their reasoning. However, it’s very unlikely that having a transactional kind of relationship or a partner that many other people are drawn is going to be a good long-term solution for low self-esteem, and would probably make it worse. If instead they spend some time figuring out why they feel bad and what kind of support they need, they’ll be able to craft a meaningful goal that leads to feeling good long-term, not just for a few fleeting moments. So do put some time into figuring out what you want deep down and where you want to go.
I hope you enjoyed these tips, they come from a lot of experience with goal-setting so I hope you’ll find one or two helpful.
In my guide I walk you through a process of figuring out: what you want deep down, the most meaningful way to get there and a practical plan of action you can use to reach your goals. It has helped people really turbo-charge their new years resolutions and goals all year round. And don’t worry if you’ve already started with your goals, you can still use this guide for fine-tuning or to create some powerful motivations to help you achieve them.
I wish you a lot of success in achieving your goals and a really enjoyable time getting there!