STOP Writing Goals. Do This Instead.

Julia Hubbel, Walkabout Saga, Horizon Huntress

Photo by Scott Graham

When goals stop working try something else.

This perfect piece of wisdom landed a few minutes ago on a piece I did about New Year's Resolutions.

The idea is to stop setting ourselves up for potential failure, and instead focus on small things that we can more easily get done.

Here's why this is so smart: Instead of making huge demands, my commenter (let's call her Shelly) puts her focus on lifestyle changes. That is, in fact, how I ended up transforming my body years ago. Small habits, each of them profoundly important, and none of them so overwhelming that they defeat us out of the gate.

Here's what she said:

Just this morning I hit the “I am done” phase.

I called my “goal” (I really hate that word) Lifestyle Change, laid out 4 simple daily tasks, and asked my least judgmental friend to gently hold me accountable by just checking in each day.

My list:

  1. Take a walk every day.
  2. Eat something green every day.
  3. Drink a glass of water every morning.
  4. Weigh myself every morning and write it down.

I need things to be easy to achieve and simple to remember.

I know I can create a habit because I stopped eating sugar about 10 years ago. While occasionally I have a treat, I no longer crave sugar.

I have now added number 5 to my Lifestyle Change list. It reads “Increase fitness in 2021”. I love the perceptual twist because I refuse to make New Year’s Resolutions. Resolutions are my personal recipe for feeling like a failure so I banished them years ago.

Photo by Eye for Ebony

You almost have to laugh at the absolutely beautiful simplicity of this.

The older we get, the more we realize that massive overhauls aren't likely overnight. What they take is the small, quiet day-to-day steps and decisions that ultimately lead us to real change. When it comes to our health, it's all about building small but very important habits.

The small ones are easy. And they are also easy to build upon later, as we stop working at them, and grabbing that salad out of the fridge instead of the frozen lasagne is just, well, not that big a deal any more.

Would this work for you?

I don't know. But I do know that setting huge goals that in our hearts, we know aren't likely, is a setup for sadness. This way, you set an accountability partner who will lovingly remind you of what you said you'd do. Shelly's choice of words, asked my least judgmental friend to gently hold me accountable by just checking in each day, are perfect. Some of us like a drill sergeant, some of us like a kinder style. Whatever works best for your particular way of being.

Besides, we're hard enough on ourselves when we fall down.

Why not look at what you'd like to accomplish in 2021 and see if those resolutions could use a gentle makeover?

It might just pay off in ways you never, ever imagined.

Photo by Clay Banks

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Eugene, OR

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