The period after New Year’s buzzes with optimism and new desires. The stress of Christmas is over and people are excited to enter a fresh calendar year and smash out their resolutions. These resolutions often take the form of lofty goals that range from ‘get mega fit’ to ‘go to Japan.’ You may be in this head space, too.
It’s fun and exciting to think about who we could be this year, how we might change for the better.
But while it’s important to talk about our goals, these conversations are not a predictor of real progress and success. They’re a starting point, merely a fun game of sorts.
Intention is important, but the follow-through is where the magic happens!
Perhaps you’re someone who consistently sets goals for yourself, no matter the time of year. We’ve been taught to do this, and we’ve been taught to focus on what it is that we truly want.
And yet people rarely make the changes they wish to see in themselves.
So what about having a harder conversation? It’s not as exhilarating, but talking about what we don’t want could be essential to shifting deep habits and patterns that have been in our way for years.
Talking about what we don’t want could finally launch us into realising our highest dreams and visions, with a sense of purpose.
And knowing what we’re willing to suffer for can provide us the direction we need to stay motivated and work hard.
On the other hand, knowing that some suffering just isn’t worth it allows us to avoid unnecessary pain and hardship while designing a life that truly fulfils us.
What don’t you want?
A fun game to play that turns the whole New Year’s resolutions conversation on its head is “what don’t you want?” The answers that come up for you could be surprising.
Do any of the following sound similar?
“I don’t want to work this job.”
“I don’t want to hate my body anymore.”
“I don’t want to feel alone.”
“I don’t want to keep lying to my spouse.”
Whatever your answers are, they could provide deep insight into what your goals should actually look like. For example, if you’re dissatisfied with work, your goal probably shouldn’t be to get a pay rise or climb the corporate ladder. Instead, work on finding meaning in your work, trying something new outside of work or possibly switching careers.
Remember, on average people spend approximately 13 years and two months of their lives at work. Do you really want to be in an industry you’re not passionate about? It’s never too late to switch careers.
If you don’t want to hate your body anymore, perhaps your goal shouldn’t be ‘lose weight’. Let’s face it, it’s probably been that for years and nothing has changed. Perhaps your goal needs to come from a place of self-care and self-love instead. This will resonate more strongly with your deepest intention (to love yourself), than forcing your body into strict exercise regimes and diet roller-coasters. Normally, when we start to treat our bodies and minds with respect, we want to eat more nourishing foods and move around more anyway.
So it’s easy to see how figuring out what we don’t want can give us a clearer idea on what we do. Because sometimes what we think we want, we actually don’t. And this can be the hardest part of setting ourselves up for success.
What can you handle?
After you’ve asked yourself what you don’t want, it’s time to ask yourself what you can handle. What can you put up with? Most dreams we have for the future invariably involve some degree of sacrifice. We need to be aware of this, prepared for this and determined to keep going when all seems to be going akimbo.
So ask yourself, can you handle:
- Spending more time on your business idea and less time with friends?
- The prospect of feeling humiliated if you make a mistake at the gym?
- Letting go of all your material things so you can finally take that world trip?
- Giving up your career to start a family with your partner?
- Letting go of your pride and seeing a therapist or life coach for help?
- Sweating it out at the gym and taking time to prep your own meals to get in shape and feel better?
- The fear that comes with giving something your best shot?
The answers to these kinds of questions will let you know how badly you want something, and also will reveal some of the limiting beliefs you already have about yourself that could be preventing you from making real progress.
It doesn’t make sense to keep setting the same goal if it never gets carried out. It will prove worthwhile your time to figure out what obstacle is stopping you, and then deal with that obstacle first.
It could be any number of things; low self-esteem, feelings of unworthiness, anxiety, fear, financial misbehaviour, relationship issues or lack of support.
Remember, you’re not making excuses for not smashing your goals. You’re having the courage to look at the tough stuff. You’re acknowledging that there are real reasons for your lack of progress, and you’re willing to face them.
Think about it: today could be the day you begin to work on removing the most stubborn blocks of resistance in your life.
Are you willing to fail?
The best predictor of real progress and success is probably not what you think.
It’s not “having a positive attitude.” It’s not making a timeline for yourself, where you’ve got a huge deadline hanging over your head, (although these measures may help some types of people.)
It’s knowing that you’re willing to fail to succeed. If you really want something, it’s essential that you let yourself fail and fail again.
After all, it’s fear of failure that stops us from picking up the ball in the first place. And this fear could have been lingering in your subconscious all along. This could have been your one great obstacle, stopping you from realising your true potential.
So run into mistakes. Give it your all. Fail with a smile.
Because if you really want this, you’ve got this.
And remember, don’t forget to think about what you don’t want, so that you don’t end up living that life. It may be more comfortable in the short-term, but you’re bound to outgrow it.
The ball’s in your court.