January 1st is right around the corner, and I have a better way to set goals than the traditional New Year’s resolutions.
Why aren’t New Year’s goals the best way to do things?
You might have experienced this in your own life, getting excited about starting a new goal on January 1st. But then the end of January comes, and nothing has really changed in your life.
Have you been there?
If yes, then this week’s Spark Your Life podcast episode is for you.
THREE MAIN CHALLENGES WE FACE WHEN SETTING GOALS
Hopefully, you’ll understand why traditional New Year’s resolution goals aren’t ideal, and you’ll be equipped with a better strategy to handle them this New Year.
There are three main challenges we face when working on goals.
Challenge #1: One Day Slips. Then Two Days.
When you first set a goal, you’re full of energy. You buy that gym membership and commit to going five days a week.
You make it the first two days, but on that third day, it’s gloomy outside, and you don’t really feel like going. The day ahead is busy, so you don’t go.
Then, another day slips by.
All of a sudden, you’re no longer going, and you feel a lack of motivation.
The reason your goal doesn’t work?
Because it’s a short-term goal that’s happening within a matter of a few weeks.
The purpose of short-term goals isn’t to motivate you but to give you an action plan.
Saying I want to go to the gym five days a week is a specific action plan, but it’s not very motivating. I’ll share more about how to use these short-term action plans to your advantage a little further down in this post.
Challenge #2: Someday I will…..
You have big dreams and big goals, things you’ve been thinking about your whole life, and you think, “Someday, I will do _________….”
You want those things so much, yet they’re so vague and distant and impossible to achieve that you don’t even know where to begin.
And so you continue living your life and keeping those big dreams in the back of your mind.
That first step is so big that you never even take it. You have no idea how even to begin to approach it.
Have you experienced this?
If so, today, we will decide what to do about it.
The reason challenge #2 exists is the opposite of #1, and it’s because this is a long-term goal, something you envision happening maybe 5-10 years from now.
Because of that, their purpose is to keep you motivated, but because of how long distance they are, they cannot be actionable.
Your long-term goal’s purpose is to act as your North Star.
Challenge #3: Something always gets in the way.
Sometimes, we kind of know what we want and how to achieve it, but something always gets in the way.
You might say that life gets in the way, and you try to stay consistent with it because you understand why it’s important.
You know you want to keep doing it, and you’re moving in that direction, but it happens slower than you want.
It creates frustration, and you feel like you’re failing yourself because you think you should be moving faster than you are.
The reason why challenge #3 happens is because these are mid-term goals, something we envision will happen in a year or so from now.
They’re realistic and achievable goals, and we see how to get there.
They create a sense of direction, but because they aren’t as actionable as short-term goals,
it’s harder to measure progress. And because they aren’t as motivational and valuable as long-term goals, you might struggle to keep going.
THE SOLUTION AND A BETTER WAY TO SET GOALS
The solution is to have a combination of short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals.
What’s important here is to always start from the long-term goals first.
Define your North Star.
- You create that value and meaning, something you want to fight for no matter how gloomy the weather is outside.
After you create your North Star, you go a level lower.
Set your direction.
- You want to dream big here. It might feel impossible to achieve, but you want to get there because it’s so important to you.
Let’s go one level lower. When we set our mid-level or directional-level goals, these help set the specific direction.
So, ask yourself, where do I want to be a year from now to be closer to achieving that big dream of mine?
- Set that goal for 12 months from today. For this one, you want to feel fairly confident you can get there. It doesn’t feel impossible to achieve. Yes, it might be a stretch and a challenge, but you have enough resources and strengths to get there.
Now, we go to the lowest level — the actionable level of short-term goals.
This is where you define your first step or milestone. This is your exact action plan for the first months or maybe eight weeks.
- What actions will you take to start moving in the direction you’ve created for yourself?
Once you have all three types of goals, you won’t struggle anymore. You will always have that sense of motivation because you’ll always remember why you’re doing this, and you’ll always have actions to take next.
You will always be able to go back to your North Star and your action plan to check whether you are moving in the right direction and adjust as needed.
You never know the exact path once you step onto the journey, but the only way to uncover the actual path is to start walking.
So, check in with yourself often and course-correct as needed.
Viewing Consistency From A Different Angle
One of my students inside the program struggles with consistency. She tends to beat herself up and views a missed day of working out as a failure.
I discovered that how we frame our goals will help us see consistency from different examples.
Let’s look at an example.
If you frame your fitness goal as wanting to go to the gym five days a week, a short-term goal that isn’t very valuable or motivational, then skipping a day and not working out might feel like you are failing because you missed the day you were supposed to go.
However, if you frame your goal so that you’re focused on your health, mentally and physically, and you want to set a positive example of that for your kids, then things change.
Because then it’s not about going to the gym five days a week anymore. It’s about listening to yourself and your body and doing what your body and mind need that day.
One day, you might wake up and go to the gym and do strength training. On a lower-energy day, you might do yoga or go for a walk. Then, on other days, you might need a rest day.
Setting a good example and taking care of your physical and mental health isn’t about how many times you went to the gym this week.
It turns around the whole perception and removes the guilt.
You start to focus on actions aligned with the meaning beneath the goal. Once you start taking actions aligned with your goals, you will feel so much better about yourself.
This is why it’s important to utilize all three levels of goals and to always start from the North Star.
This is why I don’t like New Year’s resolutions. Because when we set them, we usually don’t set goals because of understanding our why. We do it because everyone else does.
So please, on January 1st, stay away from setting mindless New Year’s resolutions.
Instead, if you desire to work on a specific goal, start by asking yourself why.
There will be no more need to force yourself to do it because you will always know why you’re doing it. It will give you the momentum you need to set the goal and actually look back in six months and be amazed by your progress.
As always, feel free to reach out with any questions you have. Good luck with your January goal-setting!
Until next time,