It’s January 7th! How are you doing on keeping your New Year’s resolutions? If you set bold goals for yourself, you may already be feeling challenged. And if the goals were too easy, maybe you are sticking to them for now, but are they inspiring you?
Why are goals and resolutions so difficult to keep? They seem like such a good idea at the time you set them, but then a few weeks later, you find yourself wondering if all the effort or sacrifice is worth it.
Goals represent change. You need to change some behavior that you currently practice for some new behavior that leads you to the goal or outcome you want. If your goal is to improve your health – maybe you need to “trade” some Netflix bingeing time for exercise time. Sounds simple, but our brains are wired to protect us and as a result, they resist change. So, you are going to have to convince your brain that this new behavior is not a threat.
I think we have all tried to use our willpower to make these kinds of changes, and just “muscled” our way through. But this is mostly unsuccessful, especially with big goals that take time.
We need a different approach! We need to understand that goals are merely a step towards our vision and purpose. We need to ensure that our goals are meaningful and closely aligned with our values and our vision or purpose. We need a deep and meaningful reason to want to change, and we need to want our goal or vision so much that we can see past the momentary struggle or challenge.
Several years ago, I challenged myself to walk a half-marathon. This was new territory for me and a considerable challenge. I did all the things the experts suggest – I had a plan that gradually built my strength and endurance, I had a buddy/accountability partner, I imagined walking the 13.1 miles and crossing the finish line. I was diligent about following the training program, getting out and walking in all kinds of weather. I set my intention, worked the plan, stuck with it, worked through the aches and pains, and I did it! I walked the half-marathon!
I could hardly believe I had accomplished this. I had stuck with an exercise plan for almost five months, more than the amount of time that it takes to establish a new habit (according to the experts). And then what? I wish I could tell you that I continued to walk and participate in walking events, but I can’t. That just didn’t happen. Why?
Well, my goal was to walk a half marathon. I achieved my goal. Because my goal had a relatively short timeline and was not aligned with my vision, once I had met this rather short-term goal, there was no reason (from my brain’s perspective) to continue.
When I look back, I can see that whenever a goal has been aligned with what I hold dear, and what I value, I achieve lasting change. When my goal is short-term and not aligned with my vision and purpose, I might achieve something in the short term, but there is no lasting change.
So as you think about the progress you are making with your New Year’s resolutions, pause and ask yourself is this part of my vision and purpose. There is always time to readjust and realign. You can start tomorrow; you can start today!