2023 is upon us and everyone is talking about new year goals, resolutions and intentions - whatever you call them, there is a buzz in the air for self improvement. People can get struck with a sense of anxiety of what the new year is to bring for them.
New year resolutions, goal setting and living life in the unexpected can grudge up so much painful experiences where the pressure to be a "better you" is in your face daily, even hourly! What happens if you don't meet those goals? More pressure, disappointment, grief and regret.
I take issue with the very concept of a resolution because it means that we are drawing a line under a decision to either do or not do something. Setting resolutions can feel very finite, permanent and definite. However, is life really rigid like this?
Can we not make a decision and still be seeking answers?
Can we not seek better value for our lives and still embrace our flaws in the present?
Can we not be determined for the future and be scared of what is to come?
CHANGE AND IMPERMANENCE AREN’T JUST REALITY, THEY ARE BEAUTIFUL - ASTRID CARVEL
It can be easy to forget the achievements from the previous year when we are so pent up on focusing on what is to be gained in this one. The strained promises and unwavering pressure to do more, to be more are ever present, especially in a society rooted in the glorification of workaholism, hustle culture and toxic productivity - at any cost!
I'm all for self development but it means nothing if you are physically, mentally and emotionally pushed to the edge to always make 'showstopping improvement' front and centre of your life’s work and live up to the illusion of linear progress and achievement. It does not work that way!
Well, if nobody told you, there will be times where you may need to take a few steps back in order to go forward. There will be times when you need to be doing the humbling, ‘unpretty’ work in the background rather than being front and centre showcasing your accolades. There will be times when progress looks and feels stagnant or even non-existent. And there will even be times you will have to scrap everything and start anew.
So, how do you make progress steady and sustainable?
At the core of this question is remembering that what you need to make progress in your life is different from what i will need, from your best friend will need, which also differs from your neighbour, and even from your biggest competitor.
This is why it is so important to write down what your dreams and aspirations are so that you can explore what the goal is that you are trying to achieve, how you will get there, what resources of support you will need, what it will look like when you have met this goal but most importantly - your why!
Your 'why' is the foundation of everything, it is your intentions behind every action you plan to take when embarking on your goals, resolutions or intentions.
OUR INTENTION CREATES OUR REALITY - WAYNE DYER
From experience, here are my 5 reasons for why it is important to write down your goals
To get your why, motivations and intentions organised and understood - if you do not have a clear vision of the bigger picture, you will struggle to plan any steps towards achievement in any or all areas. Knowing your why and being solid with your intentions behind this journey you are about to take is one of the biggest things holding you back from getting from A to Z.
To create a structure for how you will execute the goals that will lead to your dreams - have you heard of the saying, ‘when you can't stay motivated, stay consistent’? There is so much truth in this because motivation is not sustainable - it dips, shifts form and it can often be associated with seeing tangible results (which you may not yield straight away or all the time). Consistency will be your savior!
To inspire and encourage you to keep on track daily - it is the small habits that we choose to engage in on a daily basis that will bring us closer to the goals we are trying to achieve. This is not another redress for workaholism but it is a call to action to explore what habits help and hinder you day to day, week to week, month to month. From there you will be able to spot signs of energetic depletion, emotional overwhelm and even when you need to take rest and factor these into your daily plans
To keep a record of where you have come from and to map out where you are heading - I am a big believer in marginal gains that lead to major change. If we do not keep track of our progress, how will we know how far we have come from the starting line? How will we know what next steps we need to take? When hikers climb mountains they use checkpoints to not only track the progress from where they have come from but to also assess the risks, threats and opportunities of what lies ahead of their journey - the same should go for goal setting in everyday life too.
To bring attention to what is needed to bring your dreams into existence, making them a reality - narrowing in on the focus of your goal is paramount to achieving any type of goal. If your attention is divided in several areas, it can be difficult to hone in on making your dreams a reality and what is required of you to get there.
So, when creating your goals, here are some notes of advice from my personal experience that have helped me each and every time i am embarking on a new goal or setting a new intention. I try to make my goals:
Bitesized and easily manageable
Use the S.M.A.R.T strategy tool to help you break down goals/intentions into manageable, actionable, timely and specific to maximise your chances of success, whatever this may look like for you.
Action-oriented with daily tasks
Think of ways that you can realistically work on your goals each day. Bring your unique flare, innovation and creativity into it because not everyday will look or feel ‘nice’ but being solution-focused and action-oriented will help ease these dull and difficult times
Keep them simple
Why complicate things when you can keep them ultra simple? It gets all confusing when you try to compound too much into one thing. Yes, we have only one life to live but there is no point in trying to discombobulate the steps towards the goal if you really want to achieve it. If you are unable to explain your goal and the steps you are taking to achieve them to a total stranger (and have them understand it) you have to pause, take a step back, zoom out to the bigger picture and revisit the drawing board.
Make yourself accountable
Self-accountability does not develop overnight but it is something that you will need to get to grips of when setting goals in your life. This is why writing them down, gets them out of your head and into the physical world - the beautiful beginnings of making your dreams a reality. Tell a trusted person about your goals and ask them to support you to remain on track and be brutally (and compassionately) honest with you when you are straying away from the plan.
Factor in rest, play, and down time
Being realistic, we all require proper downtime, play and rest otherwise your mind will always be in productivity mode and will drain you - doing the opposite of what you need in order to achieve your goals. There is so much poor advice out there telling people how to maximise downtime by doubling up on activities such as washing dishes and listening to a podcast or eating and reading a book - that is not real downtime. Real downtime involves you not being stimulated by anything - literally embracing the mundaneness of a task, giving your mind time to re-energise and rest from being in overly-stimulating function.
Plan for the inevitable hiccups
If you know yourself, you know your habits. If you promise yourself to workout 4 days a week and you know that you have other competing priorities, do not ‘shoot yourself in the foot’ by making such limiting time constraints. Plans can change without your say so and things can happen that are out of your control. Factor in hiccups when planning your goals, resolutions and intentions, especially if they involve other people. Remember that you can only control yourself - your thoughts, actions and feelings within any given situation. Anything outside of that requires an undue level of acceptance, however the first step towards acceptance is acknowledgment - so begin to acknowledge that the inevitable will happen so that should you be placed in a position where your acceptance is needed, it is easier to come about.
Overall, just embrace the journey and take progression in your stride, knowing that the steps that you take are made for your lane only.
Need a nudge? Check out our resources below to help you maintain and monitor your daily practices, take charge of your progress (and your pitfalls) while targeting actions during specific times when motivation may be low
With love and learning