Setting Goals That Stick
So we’re a few days away from the start of the New Year. 2019 is looming as we start thinking of all the things we didn’t accomplish in 2018. This time of year is always conflicting. The idea of starting fresh in a new year causes us to look forward hopefully. However, at the same time, we tend to focus on everything that went wrong this past year.
I was listening to an interview with Jay Papasan the other day and he made an interesting statement.
“We all know how to set goals, but most of us don’t know how to interact with our goals.”
This resonates so strongly with me. I know how to set goals, I’ve set many goals over the years. I’ve learned the SMART method, making sure my goals are specific, measurable, actionable and all that. I’ve learned the Zig Ziglar 7 Steps to Success (which I actually found to be more helpful), and have had success and failure with various attempts at goal-setting.
I believe whether we will succeed at our goals or not is determined before we ever actually set a goal and is less connected to the goal-setting method we use and more connected to our motivation in setting the goal in the first place. Part of the reason that none of us know how to interact with our goals is that we set goals we aren’t actually passionate about. We feel pressured by society, our family, or by our own insecurities to set goals because we think they should be important to us. But when it comes down to it, we’re not going to put the work in.
Too often, we set goals for a new year based on the failures of the previous year. It’s no wonder we aren’t motivated to take action.
We set goals of things we want to accomplish, ways we want to better ourselves. Instead of fighting something you hate, trying to go from “not good” to “mediocre,” why not focus on going from good to great? I hate to tell you, but you will never be good at everything. You will not be successful at everything you set your hand to. So those things you’re not passionate about, the things you push to the back burner because you hate them, but then have that nagging guilt because you feel like you should be doing them, don’t give them all your attention. Focus on what you love, become great, become the best. Pour your energies into something where you will see progress, growth, and life.
Two years ago, I set myself the goal of leaning a new language. I started the Rosetta Stone program and spent hours on the computer trying to learn, but here’s the thing, I’ve always struggled learning new languages. I struggled with French in high school and struggled with Afrikaans when I lived in South Africa after university and am not competent in either. I like the idea of knowing another language, but when it actually comes down to it, I am not good at it. My brain struggles to think that way. I eventually gave up on trying to learn it and felt really guilty afterwards.
Why is that?
This isn’t a skill I need, it’s not required for my job or with any friends I have. I have this arbitrary idea to not be monolingual, but why should I essentially waste so much of my precious time and energy for something that has no real meaning to me.
On the other hand, five months ago, I decided to read 26 non-fiction books over the next 12 months. I love reading and typically read fiction, but thought this would be a great way to be more intentional to grow myself. To spend my time learning and thinking about things that can better my life is something that gets me excited. So far, I haven’t missed my book-every-two-weeks schedule and I’m loving it.
So as you look at setting goals this new year, don’t waste your time setting “trendy goals” because you won’t achieve them anyways. Find the things you love, the things you enjoy, the things that bring you joy, and commit to getting better at those. Bring more joy into your life. Move yourself closer to becoming the person you want to be.