Why We Should Create Goals All Year Long
I’ve never really supported the concept of New Year’s Resolutions. Don’t get me wrong- if someone wants a fresh start and wants to work towards accomplishing something, that’s fantastic! But why does this only have to happen when a new year comes around? Why can’t we constantly be creating new goals for ourselves throughout the year, always working towards something bigger?
For me, I no longer set New Year’s Resolutions. In the past when I have done so, the concept of a “new year, new me” made me feel a tremendous amount of pressure to set (and achieve) life-altering goals. I always ended up making goals that meant restricting food, over exercising, and sacrificing parts of who I was in order to please others. My goals weren’t sustainable, and no matter what I did, it wasn’t good enough. By the end of January, I always questioned why I couldn’t achieve what I had set my mind out to do. I developed unhealthy habits that made me feel unaccomplished and unmotivated. Yet at the same time, I was driven to achieve my goal, willing to sacrifice anything, including my happiness, to get there.
Now, instead of creating New Year’s Resolutions, I continuously monitor my goals throughout the year, always creating and re-shaping whatever goals I have in mind. This way, I am able to make sure my goals are both realistic and healthy. I’ve spoken about this before, but I really believe because we are always changing and learning, it is hard to keep a constant definition of balance. I think the same thing applies for goals. We are always growing, so how can our goals stay the same? When the new year comes around, I may say I want to be my healthiest self. But is my healthiest self in January the same as it will be in April? At the start, I may believe that to be my healthiest self I have to go to the gym six times a week, get 8 hours of sleep every night, and cut out all carbs. But what if after three weeks into achieving my goal I realize 8 hours of sleep isn’t enough and that 6 days a week at the gym is giving me stress? What if I always find myself hungry because I am not eating a balanced diet? I shouldn’t have to feel the pressure to continue following this “goal” I had created for myself, because clearly it is not benefiting me and it probably wont lead to any changes if I continue down its path. But I also shouldn’t give up and deem myself a failure. Rather, I should take a step back and re-evaluate. How can I work towards my goal knowing what I have now learned?
Taking the time to evaluate my progress and better understand what I am working towards has really changed my results. Not only am I growing stronger both mentally and physically, but I am also more adaptable and willing to learn from my mistakes. I have come to embrace my setbacks and reclaim them as lessons. Setbacks no longer inhibit me, rather they propel me forward, helping me get closer to my goal.
I also believe that it is incredibly important before setting any goal to ask yourself why you want to work towards this and what you will ultimately achieve if you meet your goal. A few years ago, I set a goal to cut out sweets. Why? Because I thought I would look better if I did. I didn’t think about my mental health or how nixing sugar cold turkey would impact my mindset, only how I would look skinny and would see more progress at the gym. I had the image of cover girls on magazines in my mind, making my decision on looks and my belief others would respond more enthusiastically to me. Every time I was around sweets, I would feel isolated. I would either feel like an outcast from my friends and family who were able to enjoy and indulge, or I would feel like I had absolutely no control, eating everything in front of me and then feeling extremely guilty the next day. This goal was not sustainable and not healthy and it led me to develop a rocky relationship with food and exercise. Was my desire to look a certain way worth this? Ultimately, no. This isn’t to say we can’t have goals for our bodies, rather that we have to really understand why we have these goals and how we can approach these goals in a safe and sustainable manner.
I challenge you to not use the new year as your only time for creating new goals. You may have noticed a big trend of creating monthly intentions, which is a great example of continuously creating and monitoring goals. Or even creating weekly goals is a great way to monitor progress! Whether you use bullet journals, your phone, or even a sticky note on your desk, write down your goals and intentions, and look them over frequently. Ask yourself why you are working towards them, whether your approach is working, and how you may be able to learn from any setbacks you have faced.
Have a safe, happy, and healthy New Year, however you define those words. Keep in mind what is best for you and what will lead you to have a year filled with knowledge and growth.
What are your goals? Are they continuations of previous ones or are you setting new ones?