It’s January! That special time of year when we all dive headfirst into completely overwhelming and unattainable goals only to completely give up shortly thereafter and close out the month by stewing in a pile of self-loathing and disappointment!
It’s a real hoot.
No wonder January is the most depressing month of the year …
Okay, maybe some of you guys can pull off your resolutions but I know for a fact that you are the minority. A minority that I am definitely not a part of.
I am a part of the ‘start a strict diet only to blow it after two weeks and punish myself with a box of cookies’ club.
I have just never been able to get behind the whole resolution thing. It is odd because goals are something I have always been very passionate about. I love setting them, achieving them, writing about them, and I even coined my very own buzzword – goal-stepping! But despite all of my passion for goals, the ‘New Year, New You’ trend has never been my jam. Maybe it is that I am always so drained from the holidays or maybe is is that all the cookies and wine I ingested in the weeks prior have bogged me down. Either way, this year, I decided to say ‘Screw it’, save myself the disappointment, and not even hop on the resolution bandwagon.
Well … sort of. Instead of making a resolution, this year I decided to devote my energy into dissecting why so many resolutions fail, and what we might be able to do about it. (I’ve always been an inquisitive mofo).
When I actually looked at my relationship with New Years goals, I found that quite frankly, I didn’t give a shit about them. I wasn’t creating a goal because I felt passionate about it. I was creating a goal because it is just ‘what people do’ on Dec 31st. I have written about the importance of determination vs. desire before (read here) and I found that when it came to my resolutions, it seems as though I had very little of either. My New Years goals were made quickly, with very little thought, and usually punitive in nature – focused on rectifying all of the ‘bad’ behaviour I had exhibited over the holidays.
Not exactly a recipe for success.
Now I want to be clear, there is nothing wrong with setting health-based goals. But it is important that it is something you actually want and it is imperative that it not be rooted in shame or punishment.
I also discovered something else … when going after a goal of any sort, it is crucial that we examine why we want to achieve it. When I look back at my resolutions that have failed, I can see that I was completely disconnected from them.
The concept of ‘find your why‘ is something that I have heard bounced around a lot over recent years and to be honest, it has always annoyed the crap out of me. If you have followed my writing or know me personally, you know that buzz phrases drive me up the wall and I had just thrown ‘find your why‘ into the box of other phrases that I hate such as ‘holding space‘ and ‘speaking my truth’. (eyeroll)
BUT, when I actually gave it some thought, annoying buzz phrase aside, there is some truth to what all of these coaches have been saying for years. In order to achieve a goal, we have to understand what is driving it. We have to connect to the emotion that the goal represents.
Most goals represent a feeling that we want, and in order to reach them, we need to be aware of what that feeling is. Then we can make sure we are actually taking the right steps to get there.
If my goal is to lose 10 pounds and I ask myself why … the answer will likely be to feel healthier or more confident.
If my goal is to double my income, I am likely after a feeling of security and freedom.
When we can connect with what our goals represent, we can get a lot more clear on the steps we need to take to get there. It also takes away the idea that there is some sort of finish line that we need to cross and that if we don’t, we have somehow lost or failed.
I know first hand that losing 10 pounds does not necessarily mean I am healthier. And it sure as hell doesn’t equal confidence. I have been my most unhealthy and lacked the most confidence when I was at my thinnest (#partydays). Understanding that lets me drop the 10 pound goal post with a win or lose outcome, and allows me to take steps every day to support the feeling that I want to cultivate – health and confidence. I can choose to drink more water, get 30 minutes of exercise, and wear outfits that make me feel amazing!
Sometimes, when we really dig into what is behind a goal, we might find that our ‘why’ isn’t coming from a healthy place. If I feel great, but I want to lose 10 pounds because I know my boyfriend wants me to … Well then, in the words of my brilliant friend Julia, you might want to consider holding on to the 10 but getting rid of the other 180 lbs that is dragging you down.
Understanding why we want to achieve our goals and what they represent is imperative when it comes to actually reaching them. Cultivating more health and confidence in 2021 is a great goal, and losing 10 pounds has actually very little to do with that. I might drop a pound or two as I focus more on supporting my health every day. If so, great. If not, that is okay too. Being able to track and measure our goals is important but I want to measure my success based on how I feel and what my body can do rather than a number on the scale. I want my goals to come from a place of enrichment, not punishment.
So maybe we don’t stop making resolutions. But maybe we start making our resolutions more about the feelings we want to cultivate rather than a finish line we need to cross. And, when we surrender the outcome we think we need or want, we open ourselves up to the other possibilities that we may have otherwise overlooked.
Whether you are looking for more health, confidence, security, or love, take away the goal post. Ask yourself what you can do today to support the feeling or experience you are trying to cultivate. Do something that makes you feel amazing, drink the damn water, and give yourself a little bit of more love today.
In the words of Mahatma Gandhi, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.”
Be the change you want to see in your world. You might just find that it doesn’t come from a number on the scale or an amount in your bank account. You might find that what you are after is closer than you think.