At the end of every year, without fail, I make a long list of goals I want to accomplish in the coming year. I imagine this person who I want to be and think that somehow, I’ll wake up on New Year’s Day as this new being I imagine, completely changed, suddenly with much more time and motivation.
This year I have been feeling less hopeful and a little more cynical. James, my husband, has started talking about setting goals for the new year, and I’ve found myself wondering, What’s the point of writing up a list I’m just going to tear off the wall by mid-February?
But in the last few days I’ve finally understood why I haven’t been able to achieve the things I so want to. Here are a few reasons:
I set waaaaay too many goals.
I set goals that aren’t realistic for my time of life.
I expect myself to be someone new in order to accomplish the goals.
I have only focused on goals, not goals and resolutions together.
2017 wasn’t a bad year, but I still want 2018 to be different. I could just not do anything; I could just not even bother trying to become better than I have been, but that’s lame. I’m a believer in change, but I also want to be an example of change, someone who is always growing and improving. I figured out a few things I can do to actually improve in 2018. I hope these tips can help you too.
1. Set resolutions and make a few goals to help achieve them.
So I think I’ve always thought of resolutions and goals as the same thing, but recently I was thinking of all the things I want to be. I want to be a cleaner person, I want to be healthier, I want to be more spiritual, and I want to pay off debt and build savings (okay, I know some of these are maybe a bit cliché, but these are common for a reason, right?).
I finally realized those are my resolutions, and I need to set goals to help me on that path. For example, I really want to maintain a cleaner house. It’s not enough just to say that—I have to set attainable goals to help me on that path. One goal James and I have recently set is to not go to bed if the dishes aren’t done. Even if this means that he’s the one in the kitchen finishing up the dishes because I fell asleep in the middle of an episode of The Office, it is attainable. I may not be able to clean each room for a half an hour a day, but this is something I can do and will still help me with that resolution.
Think of what you really want in the coming year. What can you do to get that or become that? Set realistic, attainable goals to help you achieve your resolution.
2. Set fewer goals.
I’m so done with long lists. If I really want to change, it’s time to chop up the list and focus on what I really want. The four resolutions I mentioned in my first tip are the only resolutions I’m making this year, but I’m going to especially focus on becoming healthier and paying off debt and building savings because those will be the hardest for me (I know myself).
Is there something you’ve been wanting or wanting to do for a long time? Put your focus on that instead of the hundreds of other ways you know you can do better, and maybe this year you’ll get what you want.
3. Set goals you can commit to.
Last year, James resolved to not drink any soda for all of 2017. I decided to join him to be supportive, but quickly realized it wasn’t a goal I was committed to. I obviously didn’t keep going. I’ll be honest, I don’t regret not sticking to it because I sure love my Cokes once in a while, and I only drink soda a few times a month. I’m proud of James because despite my many efforts to get him to drink a Dr. Pepper when he was tired or a Black Cherry soda when we were hanging out with his family, he never did.
In 2018, I’m only picking goals I’m passionate about or that I will at least be willing to work hard for. Are your goals something you really want? I think that if you actually want to achieve them, they have to be for you—not just something you’re doing to support someone else or because someone else wants you to…unless you’re a super determined person that is amazing at achieving goals.
4. Consider your life situation.
It’s hitting me I can’t do everything I want to. I have a two-year-old who wants my attention 95% of the time and a 3-month-old who wants to eat every 2 ½ hours and is still waking up in the 2:00 o’clock hour almost every night. Even with plenty of independent play for Haven, I still scramble to just clean up after meals every day—let’s not even talk about laundry because it makes my heart drop. Even though it’s hard, I have to remind myself that I just can’t do everything I want to and that’s okay. There are things I can do, though, and if I set the intention, I can make it happen. For example, if I want to read more books, I can easily listen to them while making meals or read e-books while feeding my baby.
Do you have some life circumstance that makes it harder for you to achieve your goals? Consider your current situation and makes realistic goals based on how much time you have to dedicate to them.
Of course it’s not bad if someone inspires you, but I’ve come to realize that change only happens if it comes from a deep, personal desire. The soda goal is another good example. Health is another instance where I’ve learned that it has to be just for me, not because I want to look good for other people.
I’m determined to simplify in 2018 and slowly get closer to the improved person I want to be. Maybe I will again fail at achieving my resolutions, but maybe not. Maybe this year will be the year I actually do what I say I want to. I love the idea of never giving up, even when we’ve failed at the same thing over and over again.
What are some things you can to be different in the upcoming year?