I say that wherever you are in the year, is the perfect point to reflect on how you feel. And, if you’re among the majority of us who made glittering new year’s resolutions back in January, only to find they’ve fallen by the wayside, then don’t worry. There is still plenty of time to get galvanised (again) and easily achieve your goals.
But first, please don’t be hard on yourself. Who can blame us for lacking motivation in this current climate? There’s a cost of living crisis, war and a possible recession looming. It is tough at the moment.
And sometimes, because things are so difficult, it becomes even more important to set small, regular goals and achieve them.
So, here’s to the future of your dreams and some simple yet effective strategies to help you get there.
1. Consider whether your original goal is still meaningful to you
One of the most common new years resolutions is weight loss. But it’s one of the hardest to attain. Not because it’s difficult in an absolute sense but because it’s not usually a meaningful goal. Unless you’re very overweight, weight loss will make little difference to your mental health or your quality of life. It can also be very triggering for people with eating disorders to find themselves in a deprivation mind set.
When you revisit the goals you made in December it’s worth considering whether they’re still meaningful to you? Is it actually weight loss that you desire or to just feel comfortable in your own body? Perhaps stronger, sexier and more confident? Do you really want to join the gym to shed a few pounds? Or is it for the pleasure of moving your body and blasting some music alone for twenty minutes? Could it be its connection and fun that motivates you to join a gym class, rather than calorie burning? Often people think it’s weight loss they want, but their real desire is to feel ownership of their body.
If you’re unsure about whether a goal is really what you want, then one way to check is whether you use the words, ‘should’ or ‘ought to’ when thinking about it. For example, the woman who says, “I should think about settling down and having children now I’m 35.” Counsellors are taught to watch for words like these, because they suggest it’s not what the clients wants at all, but it’s something that’s been imposed on her by someone else, or by society at large. In counselling parlance these are called introjections, and it’s well worth examining your own before planning more goals.
2. Think of the first half of the year as trial and iteration
Before becoming a counsellor, I worked in communications at the Design Council and It genuinely was a great place to work. It taught me many things, including the word Iteration which means, “the process of doing something again and again, usually to improve it.”
From the first six months of the year, if nothing else, you’ll probably have some feedback about what worked and what didn’t work on the road to achieving your goals. So for example, let’s imagine one of your goals was to have better boundaries around friends and family. No more dropping things to help a friend in need until you become tired, bitter and resentful yourself.
Even if you’re boundaries have now lapsed, and you feel you’re back to square one, you’re actually not. From this original period, however short, you can analyse, what worked, what didn’t. What helped you hold your boundaries firm and what caused them to crumble? Using the information already gained, you’re now in a much better position to revisit your boundaries armed with prior knowledge. Using this approach moves your mind set away from pass and fail thinking. And instead it helps you adopt an iterative approach to achieving your goals.
3. Invest in the resources you need to help you achieve your goals
If you’re serious about your goals then it’s probably worth investing either time or money to help you achieve them. I know so many people who have planned to write a book. But the only two I know who got their books published either hired a writing coach, to help them with the planning, or a life coach for confidence and accountability.
If it’s fitness that will be beneficial to your mental health, then it’s probably worth paying a child minder for a couple of hours. This will allow you some pre booked solid training time, rather than squeezing it in late at night when you’re exhausted.
Investing either time or money in your goal can also be the true test of whether it’s meaningful to you. If you’re reluctant to make the leap, then it could be because the goal just isn’t right for you. Or at least it’s not right for you just now. If this is the case, then you could either go back to step 1 and revisit meaningful goals. Or you can put all this reaching, striving and attaining to rest and wait until you’re ready. Sometimes accepting there’s enough on your plate, and focussing on self care and emotional health is the biggest achievement there is.
I’d love to hear what worked for you and what didn’t in achieving your goals, so if you’re happy to share then please go ahead.