We all ritualistically make vows to adopt new habits — nearly all of us have proclaimed a desire or felt a sense of urgency for self-improvement at some point or another. As we all know, the New Year is regularly a catalyst for these vows and resolutions.
I love the New Year, and I LOVE New Year Resolutions. The January-lull after the holidays is the optimal time for self-reflection and gratitude. It’s an excellent opportunity to look at your year, assess the good and the bad, and decide where you want to take your life for the next 365 days. That’s where all the goal-setting comes in. But before we talk about the nuances of goal setting, we need to talk about picking the right goal.
What is the right goal?
Many of us probably have a goal we think we should make sitting right at the forefront of our minds. The doctor says I should lose 50lbs; I should exercise more frequently, etc.
But the right goal isn’t one that we should do; it’s the one that leads us to what we truly want. The single most important thing you can do is make a goal that is meaningful to you, not anyone else. Ask yourself: What do I actually want? What would make my life better?
To find out what you want, you need to take some time to explore who you are, what you value, and who you want to become. Before setting your new year’s resolution this year – take time to do this exercise. Grab a pen and paper and answer these questions:
- What are my values?
- Who do I want to become, or in what area of my life do I want to improve?
Don’t Chase the Red Herring
Practical goals involve making sustainable lifestyle changes that are fulfilling and satisfying, REGARDLESS of the outcome. Most of us make outcome goals that we think will bring us what we want, rather than pursuing relevant processes. To clarify, we often chase a representation or symbol, assuming that if we achieve it, our genuine desire will accompany it. This association doesn’t always hold, and the pursuit of a symbol is rarely fruitful or fulfilling.
So, grab that pen and paper again, and ask yourself: WHY this goal? What does it represent to me? What will I gain from this?
For example, maybe your goal is to lose 50lbs this year! You write down some of your values and where you want to take your life. You value family, and this year, one area you want to focus on is your parenting! Weight loss could make quality time with your kids more accessible. Perhaps you dream of playing in the yard with your kids without getting short of breath or getting to know them better on long walks. Or, maybe you want to be a good role model and help them develop healthy habits. ALL of that is GREAT! It shows that weight loss FOR YOU is more than just the numbers on the scale. To you, weight loss is a symbol for improving your health, opportunities for quality time with your kids, and teaching your family lifelong habits. Weight loss is a symbol of lifestyle change.
Do you see how important it is to know why you want the things you want? It is easy to give up on a number on the scale. But you WON’T give up on a goal that aligns with something so integral to who you are, your values.
Maybe you have nutrition, fitness, or personal development goals this year. Why don’t you give this exercise a try?
Meaningful Resolution Exercise
- My goal:
- My values:
- Who I want to become, or where do I want to improve:
- Reasons for this goal, What does it represent?
Don’t be shamed into making goals you think you should achieve. Don’t fall for your red herrings! Take some time to reflect, introspect, and understand what you truly want. You deserve it.
If you want some help with your 2020 resolutions this year, we are here to help. Reach out for Coffee with a Coach!
Article by Coach Stephanie Clookey
Stephanie Clookey, MS, ACSM-EPC, USAW-L1