Reaching Goals / Keeping Resolutions

Bah, I can’t believe January is basically over. How is everyone doing with their resolutions? 🙂

Did you know the second Friday of the year is known as “Quitter’s Day?” Apparently, that’s the day most people start quitting their resolutions. 12 days! I sort of understand – when people make resolutions, they also have these grand images of themselves being a better person. A different person. The problem is, change is a process, and progress can be slow. You don’t just suddenly become fit or successful. The imagination of motivation can only get you so far.

After I posted my resolutions a couple weeks ago, I got discouraged pretty quickly. Actually, I’ve been discouraged every week, haha. Mainly because of my thesis. I have 9 weeks to do this thing; I’m already in week 4, and way behind. It sucks to feel like you’re behind. And having a deadline for presentations? It is very anxiety-inducing.

I’ve also felt discouraged about other things, like how I’ve been spending a lot of money this month, even though one of my big goals is to spend a lot less. Granted, 97% of the purchases were necessary and it also includes the amount Will and I spent on our road trip. In my mind, I *know* I shouldn’t feel guilty, but I still do. (Also, how crazy is it that Will and I have only been in Philly for less than a month? Feels like a lifetime already!)

Anyway, there have been many times this month that I felt like a failure, or like I was starting the year off on a bad note.

I know why people give up on their resolutions so easily: we are so discouraged by not living up to the expectations we have for ourselves. We’ve pictured the montage of ourselves working hard and changing into this wonderful and better person, only to be disappointed by the reality. We are still the same as we were, and we aren’t seeing results. We give up because we feel we are unable to be the person we thought we could be, and it’s easier to go back to old habits rather than stick to new ones that may not necessarily produce the results we are looking for.

What to do when you’re feeling discouraged

  • Acknowledge your successes and give yourself a pat on the back
  • Evaluate why your goals are your goals – are you doing it for yourself, for your family?
  • Pinpoint the true hurdles that are keeping you from accomplishing your goals
  • Switch up your routine, add a habit, or do something different that will help you overcome your hurdles

The practical side of me knows what I need to do to change my perspective. Resolutions and goals are about becoming a better person, NOT about being the best right away. Making a resolution does not mean we all of a sudden become a different person. I had/have to learn to stop beating myself up for not living up to the “new me.”

I also realized that, as the first month of the year, January isn’t necessarily about “new year, new me”. Instead, it’s a time of self-evaluation and self-encouragement. It’s good to use the new year to decide what areas of one’s life needs to be changed and improved, but the time can also further be spent self-evaluating the mental (or physical) hurdles that are in the way. It’s about taking the time to pinpoint those problem areas and learn how to move forward and tackle them.

Like I said, the practical side of me knows that. The practicing side of me, however, is slowly learning and still applying. But it’s ok – slow learning is better than no learning at all.

If you’re not achieving your goals in full swing, I want to encourage you to acknowledge what you HAVE done. Maybe you didn’t do it perfectly, or maybe there’s still a ton of stuff on the to-do list that you hoped would have been finished by now, but give yourself a pat on the back for making it this far. I’m not really saying you need to be happy with where you’re at, but don’t let your shortcomings overshadow your accomplishments. Value the work you HAVE done, and then move on to tackle the next.

If you’re thinking of giving up, whether it’s letting yourself skip a gym day or waiting another day to start any creative pursuits, my challenge to you is this: ask yourself if you really want to achieve those goals. If the answer is yes, then figure out what exactly is keeping you from reaching those goals. Is it because it’s hard? Uncomfortable? Are you just being lazy? Is working towards your goals more time-consuming than you thought? Whatever the root issue is, you can’t problem solve until you’ve determined exactly what it is. But the key is to try and stay positive. Easier said than done, yes, but so important. Because the more you feel down, the harder it will be to keep going.

Tomorrow is February, but all we’ve got is time. Don’t get caught up in who you were yesterday, but start being the person you want to be tomorrow. Keep it up, and don’t give up.

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