The month of January is a catalyst for many to make changes in their lives. Why not? Change and evolution is a natural occurrence in our lifetime, even with zero effort put forward, we change and change and change some more. The inclination for the New Year is to set goals, resolutions, and lofty ambitions to be completed by the year’s end.
“New Year, New You!” screams every advertisement, Instagram post, Facebook status. While there is nothing wrong with setting resolutions for ourselves, the way we go about it is ass-backwards. We set ourselves up for failure from day one. We dream and fantasize about how life will be when we meet these resolutions. Life will be so much better then, right?
Inherent in achieving any goal is the struggle. When you set your New Year’s Resolution, you are also accepting your Full Year’s Struggle. The early mornings, late evenings, and free time spent towards attaining that goal needs to be taken into account. Otherwise it is not a resolution, but a fantasy. Take this not as pessimism, but realism.
Set your resolution and then set your struggles.
Accept that a major lifestyle goal is just that: a major change in your lifestyle. You cannot continue the way you have in the past. That is what makes this so difficult. Don’t just write down your goals, but write down the work involved to meet those goals. It is a foolproof way to land in December of 2016 with your resolution checklist intact.
Want to be physically fit?
Get used to physical exhaustion, soreness, early morning wake ups, changes in your diet and schedule.
Want to travel more?
Start spending less, going out less, cutting back on frivolous spending is the first and faltered step of many.
We often only focus on the achievement, the finish line, the fantasy. We dream of how life will be when we are fitter, smarter, faster, promoted, successful. But be real with yourself. What work can you make space for?
What are you willing to struggle for?
What if you don’t know what to change?
If you’re like me, the New Year snuck up on you and the pressure to set a resolution came quickly. I had no idea what I could contribute to the resolution conversation happening on the couch that morning of January 1st, groggy from champagne and dancing.
Then I started to ask myself a question randomly throughout my days: Do I like who I am when I am doing this?
It is a simple inquiry. It isn’t “Am I good at this?” but “Do I like who I am when I am doing this?”. Two very different ideas. You can like doing something because you’re good at it, but you can simultaneously not like who you are when you are doing that thing you’re good at.
Let’s use an example. Take Sarah, she’s a bartender. She’s a talented conversationalist, able to talk to anyone at the bar. She does very well for self, pulling in a lot of money each night, managing the bar staff with ease and responsibility. But if Sarah asked herself “Do I like who I am when I am doing this?” her answer has nothing to do with her talent, but if she likes who she needs to be to succeed in the industry.
This is an important tenant to goal setting and lifestyle design. You can write down all the resolutions in the world, but if you don’t like who you are when you are doing it, that change will not have lasting power.
Checking in with ourselves and being honest with what we are willing to struggle for is how we can make 2016 the year we finally all get that job, that lifestyle, that body, or that promotion.