The Secret is Setting Realistic Goals

New Year’s resolutions. We all make ‘em. We all break ‘em. Why are they so hard to keep? I don’t know if it’s the same for everyone, but at least for me, the resolutions I make are impractical. “Eat healthier”. What kind of lame goal is that? There’s no way to measure that, so how do I know I’m doing it? A better type of goal would be “replace one fast food meal a week with a home cooked one”. That is measurable. And in addition to being better for my health, it’ll end up being better for my pocketbook as well.

The whirlwind of the holidays is over, but since it’s only the second week of January, the New Year’s optimism is still lingering. Now’s the perfect time to make your resolution (if you haven’t already). Your mind is clear of lingering family dramas, and work’s probably back to normal. Since you have mostly gone back to your day to day, you can better think about how you can effect change in your life. To me, New Year’s resolutions made during the first week of January, or even *gasp* on New Year’s Eve itself, tend to be unreasonable. You’ve got all the best intentions, but your goal might be too lofty.

Take, for example, the goal (very achievable, btw) of running a marathon. And say you want to not only participate in a marathon, but to run the whole thing. At first, it’ll simply be a matter of levering your hindquarters up off the couch and moving around. Not too much change in your routine, right? But by the end, you’ll be running 16-22 miles all at once in those sneakers.  Let me tell you, that is TIME CONSUMING. The moral of the story here is twofold. First, you need to own your goal. It’s got to be something you absolutely want to do. Do it for you. If you’re doing it to make someone else happy, chances are that you’ll fail. Second, even if it’s something you want to do, it’s got to be realistic. If you’ve never run before, thinking you can go from being a couch potato to completing a marathon distance event in March is unreasonable. Even if you have all the time in the world to devote to your goal, your body simply cannot transform that fast. That isn’t to say you can’t become a runner overnight. By the simple act of you getting out and actually going running, you have become a runner! What you can’t reasonably expect to have happen is to become a distance runner overnight. But wait, you say! Running isn’t MY goal! I couldn’t give two figs about running. That’s okay! The lesson here is transferable. Realistic goals. Life, and the achievement of goals, are both processes. That old adage is true. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Neither were you.

So what’s an achievable goal? Learn to play guitar, or any instrument. Take an art class. Learn to cook. Or even - here’s a radical notion - take some time for yourself every month. Have a bath. Get a massage. Go fishing. Do something that’s just for you so you don’t burn out. Make 2017 the year of you!

Posted: Thursday, January 12, 2017