I used to hate goal settings. I hated goals. I hated resolutions. But beyond that, I hated failing. And I felt like every time I made a goal, I failed. So I just stopped trying.
Until the last few years, I quit just about anything that got hard. Failing was embarrassing and trying was hard so it was easier to just not try. Which meant goal setting was out of the question.
Fast forward to two years ago. 22 years old, a mom, who had dropped out of college, and felt like she didn’t have a single accomplishment to her name. I had all these huge dreams, but I had decided years earlier that I couldn’t do hard things, I had no self-discipline, no motivation and I was a quitter. And I absolutely hated that about myself.
One goal, lets call it a dream at this point, was to run a 5k. I had dabbled in running in High School and I really enjoyed it, but of course it got hard and I quit. A 5k was a far off, almost unreachable goal that I figured I would accomplish in my 40s or 50s when I would have inevitably and eventually learned how to muster up a little self-discipline.
When I was pregnant with Ellie, my second, I just had this urge to start running. When she was born I had a conversation with my mom we decided to keep each other accountable and start training for a 5k together.
So I downloaded the Couch to 5k app and started. Because I wanted to make my mom proud, I would lace up my shoes and go out and run. Eventually, it got easier and easier. I started to enjoy it and one 5k turned into 2, then 3, and then a half marathon.
Yes, I like to brag about my running feats. But I’m not proud because of how far I ran. I’m proud because somehow during all those runs I realized I wasn’t a quitter and I realized that setting and achieving goals was pretty dang fun.
So here I am, almost 2 years after my daughter’s birth. And I can honestly say, “I LOVE SETTING GOALS”.
I’ve seen a lot of hate on New Years Resolutions. People have said that they are too much pressure, or it’s just something you say knowing you won’t actually do it. But imagine a world where everybody set and achieved their goals. It would be incredible! Can you imagine the awesome books we would have if everybody who said they were going to write a book one day did! Or how about the athletes, people who decided to push their bodies and do incredible things! The art that would grace our walls and the JOY! The joy everyone would have knowing they were doing their best! I want to live in that world.
So here’s my argument for New Years Resolutions.
Do it. What can you lose?
Google defines “resolution” as a FIRM DECISION to do or not to do something. FIRM DECISION guys. Not a weak kinda sorta promise to yourself. FIRM.
And yes, I get it, I so so so get it. It’s hard. It’s hard to make a goal when you think you’re going to fail. And when you think you’re going to fail it’s hard to have any motivation at all.
So here’s what I’ve learned about changing a Resolution from a kinda sorta promise into a firm decision.
1. Start small. Pick something that will challenge you, but also isn’t a top tier Michael Phelps level goal. You know what I mean? If you have 100 pounds to lose, maybe saying, “my goal is to loose 100 pounds” is a bit much to start off. How about starting off with “My goal is to lose 5 pounds”. Yes, it’s not the same thing. But if you lose that 5 pounds, you are going to feel so dang good about yourself. You will be on a high! So then you set another goal to lose another 5 pounds, then another and another. And eventually you will have reached your bigger goal. Wars are won one battle at a time.
2. Write it down. Write it down in 20 places, on your phone, in your journal, your planner, tell everyone you know. The more it’s out there in the world, the more accountable you are to make it happen. Writing it down makes it real, until it’s on paper, or at least in the Notes app on your phone, it’s only a dream. Dreams are fun and all, but they end. It’s doesn’t take a lot of effort. WRITE IT DOWN.
3. Make a plan. I’m an over planner. Ask my husband, going on a trip is a huge affair of planning, researching, and revising. And I treat my goals the same way. After you’ve written your goal down, figure out how you’re going to get there. If your goal is to eat healthy. What does “healthy” mean to you? Is it not drinking soda? No sugar? Eating 3 servings of vegetables everyday? If you don’t know what your measuring HOW ARE YOU GOING TO MEASURE IT?? And it you can’t measure it, how will you know if you’ve achieved it? So figure it out, take some time, think about it, and then write it down. Maybe your goal is a little out of your league and you’re a little clueless how to begin. Well there is this awesome tool called Google where you can type in any question and it will answer it for you. Nowhere is it written that you can’t use the tools around you to accomplish a goal. And lastly, and certainly most importantly. REVISE. Just because on January 1st you wrote down your goal and plan one way, and by February you realize that the exact thing you wrote down doesn’t work for you doesn’t mean you failed. It doesn’t mean you should quit. The best part of being alive is that we get to learn from our mistakes! Which means that when we realize something is not going to work, we tweak it and then keep moving forward.
4. Tell your inner perfectionist to shut up. Raise your hand if you have ever set a goal and then you space out for a couple weeks and don’t do it. I know I have. Raise your hand if, after that’s happened you decide that you failed, again, and so you quit. Yup, me, I’ve done that. The number one thing that improved my rate of accomplishing my goals was to be kind to myself and to give myself some grace. So you had a busy week and ate pizza and take-out every night, or you didn’t workout at 6 am every morning like you said you would. CONGRATULATIONS, YOU ARE HUMAN!!! Do me a favor and next time that happens tell yourself this, “I made a mistake. That’s ok. I did not fail. Tomorrow I get to try again”. Thomas Edison tried 1001 times to make the light bulb. He didn’t decide he was failure and give up, he learned how not to do it and kept trying. Just be a little kinder to yourself ok? You deserve it. I promise.
So from one human to another. You can do this. You really really can. Nothing worth having is obtained easily. Give your dreams some respect and do your best to make them into reality. And heck, give yourself some respect and go easy on yourself. You’ve made it this far in life, and you can make it a lot farther, and a lot more enjoyable if you just give yourself the chance to do the things you’ve always wanted to do.
I believe in you.