“The trouble with not having a goal is that you can spend your life running up and down the field and never score.” --Bill Copeland
In what ways are you choosing to pursue your goals in 2020?
We all have the very best of intentions when it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions. Without goals it can be very difficult to make any progress at all as we have no clear objectives in regards to the areas of our lives that we want to make growth and improvement.
To be honest, I’m steering clear of setting New Year’s resolutions this year as my thinking has shifted when it comes to goal-setting. I don’t know how accurate this statistic is, but I once heard that more than 80% of people fail in sticking to their New Year’s resolutions, especially within the first two to three weeks of January.
Do we actually need a new beginning to set goals? How might we look at goal-setting differently?
It is so common for people to set goals at new beginnings. Be it the beginning of a new school year, the start of the new year itself, the first day after our birthday or the start of a new season. However, the process of creating positive change in our personal and professional lives does not require new beginnings to set goals. It just requires a reset and reframe in the way that we choose to pursue our goals.
Rather than this endless cycle of using new beginnings to set goals or resolutions, we can become more focused on reflecting on our own journey of learning about ourselves and the habits and routines that we have in place that are serving us well or holding us back from achieving the goals that we have set. This can better lead us to make the necessary adjustments and modifications to stay on track with our goals. Deepening our learning about ourselves can be a very mindful act that requires both presence and patience.
For me personally, I learned to look at goal-setting differently when I came across the work of Michael Murphy. Murphy, a best-selling author and the co-founder of the Esalen Institute, states that deep learning about oneself is directly dependent on our ability to be honest with ourselves and to take the time necessary to stop and reflect on four key areas in relation to the journeys we are on.
To illustrate his point, Murphy uses the example of truck weigh stations. These stations are commonly located at several different points along long haul expressways. Truck drivers are required by law, to pull over and to get their trucks weighed at different weigh stations along their journey.
Murphy believes that the ‘truck weigh station’ is a perfect metaphor for pulling over in our own lives and genuinely evaluating where we’ve come from and where we are going to. At several points throughout the year, we should be taking the necessary time to stop and assess where we are at in regards to the personal and professional goals that we have set for ourselves and the direction we are headed in our lives.
As well, these check ins are a perfect time to also reflect on our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well-being.
Rather than a continuous cycle of setting goals, failing to meet these goals, kicking ourselves when we have failed, then waiting for a new beginning to set new goals or resolutions, we can create the time and space needed to develop more self-forgiveness and deeper self-learning. When we choose to look at goal-setting differently and instead focus more on our own journey of learning, we can better identify the self-imposed roadblocks and obstacles that get in the way of our own growth and improvement.
In concluding this blog post, I want to emphasize 4 things.
Setting goals is such an important part of growth and improvement. Without goals, we can wander aimlessly with no specific vision or hopes for ourselves. We must be able to clearly articulate what our goals are and document these goals in order to hold ourselves accountable.
Constant Check Ins
Creating the time needed to assess and reflect on our goals. As Murphy says, think of it as a truck weigh station. We must take time to pull over and stop, in order to genuinely assess where we are at in regards to our personal and professional goals. Are we moving toward them or away from them? What do we need to do to stay on track? These check ins can be done informally as well. For example, a long walk or run or even through a chat with a close friend. The key is to build in time to check in with ourselves and our goals.
Rather than beating ourselves up if we fall off track, it is essential to be kind to ourselves and to create more self-compassion in our lives. We must try to develop a better relationship with ourselves by accepting that mistakes will happen. However, we must be willing to identify how we are self-sabotaging ourselves in order to break the habit of giving up on our goals too early or too often.
Always be willing to identify our successes as we move toward our goals. No matter how small these successes are, they are worthy of recognizing. Being able to identify our successes helps us to understand that we can progress and improve when we set our minds to it. Making the commitments needed to move closer to achieving our goals in an important part of this process.
The act of goal-setting requires us to be mindful and present in order to stay focused on our own growth. Through a self-reflective process, we can learn to approach our goals differently to free up space and time to deepen our learning.
What are your goals for 2020? How will you hold yourself accountable? And finally, how will you ensure that you put more self-compassion into action in order to push you closer to achieving the goals that you have set for yourself. Happy New Year and best of luck in 2020 folks.
Thanks for reading.
Neila Steele & Andy Vasily