Like many, I’ve struggled to maintain New Year’s resolutions. But that’s why I waited a few weeks into January to share this article because I know we’ve reached the point when most resolutions fail.
Let them fail. We weren’t set up to succeed in them anyway.
Instead, three weeks into the year, let’s take the time to redefine the strategy we use for setting goals.
Before the clock stuck midnight on December 31st, I spent time reflecting back on all the goals missed (or forgotten) of the past. News flash – I still can’t touch my toes after multiple years of saying I’d stretch more. I still hate kale and I still haven’t found the willpower to give up IPAs.
What I realized is we often set goals too low. We set them in what I call the “do” level. We say we’re going to “do” certain activities. For example,
“I’m going to do this….(fill in the blank)…..”
“I’m going to stretch more” or “do more stretching”
The problem is we aren’t often inspired by the actions. We’re inspired by who we want to become, or better yet, the journey. Which is why I think we need to set goals higher and set them in the “be” level.
What, or who, do you want to “be” in 2024?
When we answer that question, we will set higher goals and the actions needed to achieve it (the “doing”) will come naturally. Thankfully, those actions will be tied to a higher purpose or goal. The act of doing them becomes that much easier.
To redefine your goals, consider setting three significant ones for your Head, Health, and Heart.
Set one goal you feel will make an impact on your mind or mental health. For me, I’ve become inspired to read more, but not just because it’s a new year and that’s what everyone says you should do. I’ve become inspired because it’s the behavior I want to model for my children. When they see me reading, I often see how it turns a lightbulb in their head to go grab a book and read next to me on the couch. I’ve also become inspired to read more as a way to replace doom scrolling on my phone. Yes, I do it. And I realized I don’t want to “be” the person always scrolling Instagram. It’s not good for my mental health, so reading can be a replacement for scrolling and help me become the person I want to be.
Next, set one big goal for your physical health. There is no if, ands, or buts about it. Your physical health and physical activity directly impact how you feel, your mood, and lessens anxiety. The big goals we have for our health will vary wildly – and that’s OK. Your health goal should be something big for YOU. If that means you want to walk more, set a goal for a certain number of miles a week. If you want to drink less alcohol or lose weight, set an appropriate goal which forces you to push yourself a bit and keep track of how you’re doing along the way. Progress inspires us.
For myself, I’m checking off a bucketlist item I’ve had on my radar since my early 20’s. I signed up for an Ironman triathlon in November. I’ve always wanted to be an Ironman, so that’s the goal. The training I’ll have to do to get ready is ultimately the change I’ll need to make.
What brings you joy? If the first two goals are in essence about your mind and body, what’s good for your soul? This is the goal we tend to forget about and it’s arguably the most important. Set a big goal for the year to do more of what warms your soul, brings you joy, and leads to happiness.
For me, I fill my cup when I get to spend time with my wife and kids. I want to be equal parts good Dad and good husband. But I’ve also realized we are entering a stage of life where my daughters are 10, the friends and activities are building up, and our opportunities to spend time together will naturally get harder. My goal this year is to try a new experience with each of the women in my life, one-on-one. No phone. Just us, together, and doing something new we haven’t tried before. It’s a small step in the direction of being the person I want to be for my family, and it warms my heart in the process.
The challenge I have for you today is to pick one big goal for your Head, Health, and Heart. Ground yourself in who you want to become in those spaces – or as the case with my doom scrolling – who do you want to stop being. When we’re grounded in a stronger sense of purpose, taking action on your goals becomes a simple step in the journey.