Why Nebulous Goals So Often Fail
It is officially the second week of 2017, a time when a quarter of all New Year’s resolutions have started to be forgotten, just like the location of those shiny dumbbells you got for Christmas. In a previous post, I wrote about why writing ones goals is a critical first step to actually achieve them in the long run. It’s not just the visibility, because one can always accidentally throw out that one piece of scrap paper where we wrote about taking on that two week green juice cleanse, and it’s not just the accountability either because it is wholly possible to write down the best intentions for yourself in the coming year, and then promptly forget about all about it and resume a very much green juice free lifestyle. The mere act of writing allows you to be that much more intentional about what your goals are in the first place. We may all secretly dream of being the lead singer in a famous rock band, or getting a part in the next Star Wars movie but what turns dreams into concrete reality besides sheer luck is the ability to set attainable goals.
A good friend of mine has had the same recurring New Year’s resolution to lose weight as long as I have known her. After a holiday season partaking in many a scrumptious cookie, and indulgent meals (she loves to cook), I completely understand why she would look to reset in January, and work off the few pounds she gained during the holidays. Last year the conversation inevitably came up at the beginning of February that she still hadn’t managed to lose any weight, and anyone who has heard a conversation that ends up about Paleo vs. South Beach diet vs. insert new quickest way to lose 5 lbs here, knows how quickly one tires of them regardless of how much you like your friends. I finally asked her if she had a more concrete plan besides lose the weight she had gained, which frankly I think is the plan a majority of Western society is on at any given moment. She confessed that she hadn’t, besides eating less junk food. As a list lover, I encouraged her to write a list of five more things she could do to lose those holiday pounds and put it somewhere inside her nightstand or wallet, adding to it as she thought of more things. She mentioned to me a few weeks later that our conversation had inspired her to keep a food journal for a week as a way to force her to slow down and be more mindful of what she was actually eating, a habit which we could all probably stand to incorporate into our lives. Writing helped her become more intentional about what actual steps she could take to lose the weight, because it forced her to think about it for more than the two seconds before she gave in to eating a brownie. I know in my own life, being very deliberate about goal-setting has made it so much easier to actually accomplish them. Wanting to read more is a worthwhile endeavor. Writing down that I will read one book a week in the coming year is much a much better way to actually make that happen. Routinely buying books and downloading the Kindle app on my phone is one of the actionable steps I am taking to work towards achieving my goal (that, and reducing the urge to binge watch Netflix shows whenever possible). Whether it’s to network more this year, find more clients, travel to places you have been dreaming about since being a kid, or just being a gentler, kinder human being, concrete goal-setting will increase the likelihood that the things you truly want will come to fruition because you will be actively invested in bringing about that very outcome.