Emotional Health•Healing • 3 minutes to read
Needing a break from the monotony and overwhelming task of packing up my home, I opened the cover of my journal; it revealed a list of goals I had made at the beginning of the year. It was now July. My shoulders dropped as I let out a deep sigh of disappointment. Not a single ambition had been realized.
My list resembled so many intentions of previous years, yet yielded the same results. Many goals not being accomplished and, consequently, copied and pasted to the next year’s list.
Looking back, this is a familiar rhythm for me. I have never been goal-oriented unless it pertains to relationships. Then, watch out! I will pull out charts and graphs and set all the goals (probably for both of us) to make a plan on how we can better human together. While this is slightly exaggerated, there is something revealing here. I value connection over completion.
I examined my redundant list and not a single item was focused on the very things I value. And if we don’t value it, we will rarely pursue it with any ambition. I realized that instead of being inherently flawed, perhaps I was just going about pursuing accomplishments the wrong way.
People who struggle with making and keeping goals often struggle with internal boundaries. In order to achieve something we are—rather than fix something we are not—we must discover who we are, how we are wired, and what makes us tick. If we don’t do this, our goals will lead us to make changes based on standards that others have set for us or unrealistic goals we have set for ourselves.
Essentially, our goal setting must look different than that of the accomplished athlete, successful business person, and achievers who always seem to have what it takes. Many of these individuals know who they are, what they want, and the direction they must go to achieve it.
But for the rest of us, how do we do this? To start, we must contemplate the following statements and ask ourselves clarifying questions.
We want to enjoy the experience of life more than accomplish it.
- What about my life do I enjoy?
- What can I put in place to have more of this?
We tend to wait to be motivated or inspired; we are often slow starters.
- Who inspires me to be the best version of myself?
- How can I incorporate them into my goals?
We are more productive when we experience small successes; yet we have a hard time seeing our successes and quickly want to throw in the towel.
- How can I measure and celebrate daily successes?
- What level of self-compassion can I extend to myself at this moment?
We’re often motivated by what we don’t want, more than motivated by what we do want.
- What do I value?
- What is interfering with having more of what I value?
We get stuck when it seems like nothing is going right.
- Is anything going right in my life?
- What have I done well today?
You can see why we struggle! And you can see why many of us repeat this pattern, like Phil in the movie Groundhog Day.
Phil: “What would you do if you were stuck in one place and every day was exactly the same and nothing that you did mattered?”
Ralph: “That about sums it up for me.”
And this about sums it up for me: with research estimating that only 8% of us achieve our goals, we need to know that we are not alone.
Remember, goal setting is a learned skill. If you’re like me, it might be time to recognize that what we’re doing isn’t working and we need to learn a new approach from a different angle.
Maybe 2022 will be our year of breaking the old rhythms and lists, and approaching health and happiness in new and creative ways.
How will goal setting look different for you this year?