I wonder how many goals are set at this time of year that should really have been left in the realm of “wishful thinking.” How many people are setting resolutions even now, hoping that this year their dreams really might come true. How many are enjoying the field day of their best intentions, even as I type up this blog? Forbes tells us the shocking fact that only 8% of people who set New Year’s Resolutions actually achieve them. At this time of year we get crazy! We try to conjure up success from nothing. We wistfully dream that this time will be different. This time, the magic wand will work. This is a miserable and defeated way to start the year.
Or is it? What if knowing that the odds are against us could actually work for us? This likelihood of failure could be the permission that we need to take all of that pressure off ourselves. We could start this year without wishing that we could be someone different overnight. We might even be able to let go of the idea that we need something else, something more, something new, something different? Perhaps our ambition for this coming year could be to accept how things are, and work from here? Maybe, knowing that we are unlikely to achieve our New Year’s wishes might be just the tip we needed to let us off the hook this time around.
Please understand. If you have read any of my writing, or spent even ten minutes with me in the flesh, you will know that I am the Queen of big dreams and crazy ambitions. I live to throw all of my eggs into the one basket of my most daring imaginations. I am a picture of drive and the master of motivation. I am a big thinker, a busy doer – I am an ideas woman who puts her money where her mouth is.
But I have solemn convictions. I believe that we should not come at the process of goal setting from a light-hearted, flippant, dare I suggest drunken state of mind. The turn of the New Year does not have a mystical power that makes our wishful thinking suddenly work. The words that you say, and the lofty heights that are set require a serious commitment. I am a believer in the importance of goal setting, but I am mindful of the power of this process. Setting goals is fraught with a couple of specific dangers that must be handled with caution.
- Our Self Respect Hinges On Reaching The Goal
You see, to set a goal is to establish a standard, and once it is set, it must be reached. This is vital. Because we draw confidence from the goal. Self-esteem. Self worth. Self respect. Our goals are the pivot point of how we see ourselves. If we fall short of the goal, or if we achieve it but then go back to our old ways, we undermine the pivotal trust we need to have in ourselves. Without this trust, we simply cannot be free. We can’t be truly liberated, powerful, passionate people who throw themselves into life with abandon if we know that we are the ones who gave up, or relapsed.
The first risk that comes with goals is in the effects of failure. Setting the goal is fine, healthy, productive, powerful. And I admit that I do set my own goals regularly and often. But achieving them is essential. Once the goal is set, there is no looking back. I hesitate before I set any goal. If I achieve it and make the success last, it is a powerful, transformational win. But if I don’t, the goal has done more damage than good. Blowing off the New Year’s resolution all together means that we don’t face the threat of losing our self respect. Let’s leave the goal setting for a time that we can give it the honour it deserves.
2. Setting A Goal Asks For More
At this time of year we can all become quite the reflective philosophers. We look around our lives and we consider our progress, significance, worth. We measure the value of our lives, the contribution we have made, and the progress we have gained so far. Our view during these times can easily become tainted with comparisons which create feelings of inadequacy, insecurity, deficiency, lack. This is a dangerous attitude to bring to any season of goal setting.
There is more to you than the shortcomings you see at New Years. You have come so far! You have done yourself proud. You have given your all. Now is the time to celebrate and pat yourself on the back. It is not time to figure out how you could do more, be more, have more. At least, not from a mindset that starts from a sense of personal deficit. There is no goal of performance or achievement that will tell you the thing you need to celebrate most at this time of the year. You! Let’s blow off that thinking this New Year’s. Instead, let’s embrace this:
You are already enough.
You are not your work. You are not your actions. You are not your achievements or your decisions. Who you are cannot be measured by the things you have done or the goals you have reached. You are more than these things. Your substance is richer, fuller, deeper. You are more than the work of your hands or the striving of your goals.
As we welcome the New Year in we bid farewell to the year that has past, and we embrace the year that lies ahead. Let’s do this with care. Let’s set our gaze on the year to come through eyes that embrace our own perfection. Let’s make it our aim to pursue change only from a place of Acceptance. Peace. Security. Wholeness.
If you are to set a goal at all, let it start with this pledge:
2017 I welcome you with open arms. This is the year that I accept I am already enough. I will act on the conviction that everything I need is already within me. With all that I am now, I will dream new dreams, face new challenges, pursue new directions, and follow my deepest passions. I am endlessly empowered and permanently liberated to grow, evolve and change through each new season. I will work hard to bring my best game to the opportunities afforded by each new day. I will be confident that there is nothing more that I need to do, earn or become. Nothing can make me more valuable or worthy than the person I am now.