Behind all of the sparkly outfits, champagne toasts, and repetitive Instagram captions, we all have our own feelings about the start of a new year. Some people are excited. Others are full of dread. There’s regret, optimism, anxiety, hope, pressure.
Our society puts a lot of emphasis on the beginning of a new calendar year. If you don’t set a goal or commit to a resolution, it almost feels like you’re doing something wrong, doesn’t it?
Setting goals can be a great thing. Personally, it is something I want to do more of. But digging into the motivations behind those goals is worth putting some thought into because therein lies the difference between a journey of healthy progress and an exhausting cycle of defeat. The why that underlies our desires and efforts to reach something plays a big part in determining how much control the concepts of success and failure have over our identity. Unfortunately that level of control often goes unnoticed and is internalized.
It is important to recognize that growth and progress are successes. Reaching a goal is awesome, but getting closer to reaching your goal than you were when you began pushing towards it is also something to celebrate.
If we define failure as anything short of reaching a single mark, it’s easy to begin operating out of discouragement. The same is true when we accept failure as a reflection of who we are as individuals. Reframing “failure” as an opportunity for continued growth guards our minds against the kind of defeat that holds way too much power.
When it comes to setting goals and resolutions, there are a few things to keep in mind that will not only set you up for “success” in reaching your desired outcome, but most importantly help you set a desired outcome that lands you in a healthier place than where you started.
Red Goal-Setting Flags: :
- Your goals are driven by insecurity
- Your resolutions are intended to make yourself into who someone else wants you to be versus your own desire to change
- You are driven by a voice that tells you you’re not good enough instead of a voice that encourages you
- You’re setting your goals based on comparison to someone else’s looks, possessions or status
- Your core motivation is aiming to be “good enough”
- Your desire to “be better” is a result of self-criticism or self-hate rather than self-care and self-love
Healthy Goal-Setting Mentalities
- Your goals are rooted in the recognition of self-worth, not self-criticism
- You want to be a better version of yourself because you care about yourself and those around you
- Your mental and emotional health are critical motivating factors
- Your goals are realistic and take your other priorities into consideration, not someone else’s capacity
- Your resolutions are not bars that determine how much you are worth
- Your goals are cushioned with the understanding that you are only human and an agreement to have grace for yourself when you don’t “measure up” 100% of the time
- You have decided that you are worth the time and effort it takes to care for yourself
- Your resolutions are a product of what you desire, not what someone else desires of you
- You recognize that while reaching your goals is a huge victory, you are not defined by them
Starting off on the “right” foot really has nothing to do with a set date in time. A symbolic starting point like the beginning of a New Year can certainly be motivating and serve as a tangible mile marker. But the most important factor in whether or not you head in a healthy direction this year – or at any point in life – has everything to do with the why.
What if this New Year you made a promise to yourself to be nicer to you? To take care of yourself, to set healthy boundaries, to give yourself and others permission to be human. To challenge yourself when and where it is appropriate or needed, but refrain from beating yourself up for not meeting impossible standards. To make space for yourself to heal, distance yourself from toxic relationships, and get to know the incredibly unique, gifted person that is you.
You are worth progress, my friend. And there is no doubt you can make it. But pay attention to the journey — it is to be enjoyed. You were created to thrive.