New Approaches to New Year’s Resolutions: A Post on Goal Setting

For years now I have been setting goals and writing new year’s resolutions. I’m not sure when I started to make it formal, but it can’t have been any later than the 8th grade where I actually would sit down with my 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens by Sean Covey a few days before New Years and write out all of my resolutions. I remember people around me did the same and posted them on their “xanga” blogs, and I would kind of do the same without really giving it much serious thought. Perhaps as I grew older and my sense of rebellion grew stronger, it started pushing me to really set goals and figure out what’s even going on when we “set goals.”

I’d like to write something that isn’t on “how to set a goal” or “how to get back on track when your goal slips up.” Honestly the conventional goal setting never got me what I truly wanted. They taught me how to work hard and effort for a goal, but my greatest achievements that have truly brought me joy and happiness (and not a feeling of a hopeful thumbsup from my parents/people around me) have happened from non effort and alignment. So here’s a post with a few things I’ve learned (let’s keep it to five) about what goals mean to me now and things that I’m keeping in mind with my New Years Resolutions.

1. Never start a goal with ‘I want…’
Writing goals down is important and mandatory – this rule is definitely a solid one since I’ve started setting goals. In the past, my goals used to be a huge line of ‘I wants,’ but usually acts as a roadblock to achieving your goals. The reason ‘I want’ can hinder goal setting is because when you state that you want something, your focus and your state of being is one of lack. The only way anything comes into your life is when you are in alignment with it and you allow it, so “wanting” it is actually pushing it away. You say, “I want good grades,” and if you say that with the emotional state of “wanting,” you will keep whatever it is you are trying to achieve away from you because you are wanting it instead of being grateful for it. If you “want” good grades, you are offering a focus of “I want good grades because I don’t have good grades,” which is mostly emotionalized with the focus of “I have bad grades.”  An easy way to go around this if you insist on making a list of such sorts is to give ‘I desire’ a go instead of ‘I want.’ (ie, I desire good grades) It feels a lot better when you read them, but now I really write my goals in the present tense so that when I review them they are timeless (ie, I have a set of grades for school I feel great about).

2. Design big dreams, but only if they are true desires
Shoot for the moon. Even if you miss, you’ll land among the stars. (Les Brown)
Dream big – you hear it all the time, and I completely 100% agree. If I hadn’t dreamt big I would not have all the beautiful creations I experience daily today, and I would not have the faith to focus on the ones I work on today. However, that doesn’t mean you just go on a random shopping spree on everything you supposedly want. Give it some genuine true feeling – feel what your desires are, and not what others will think/do/say etc about what you are working to achieve. I don’t know if it’s a fact, but from my own experience and seemingly common sense, goals to please others and that are approval seeking are not ‘true’ desires because they go against the whole point of goal setting: being the creator of your own life. This took me a long time to understand, but after some practice and a huge goal accomplished, it will probably make you slightly ill to think about setting goals to please others/approval seek.

3. Re-evaluate the concept of motivation (and other conventional goal-setting ideas)
The words motivation, willpower, persistence, commitment, re-commitment, stick-to-it, courage, S.M.A.R.T. etc come up often when people search goal-setting and achievements. These need a thorough re-evaluation if you are desiring to achieve something you have not yet achieved before. Sometimes things like persistence and willpower help you reach a goal that is a part of your life you do not really want (for me in high school grades were goals of this sort). But for something you really truly desire from deep down and it’s something you haven’t ever experienced before, these words need to be out of the vocabulary!
I want to focus on motivation because this is one that comes up a lot and is a huge misunderstanding in many situations. Motivation is not something you have to force yourself to have or you need to “figure out how to get.”It’s not something you can just keep “convincing yourself of the benefits” in order to have. It bugs me when people complain about their kids or their boyfriends/girlfriends or their own fitness routine with the excuse, “If ________ just had more motivation he/she/I would be so much better and have so much more.” There is no such thing as “motivating” yourself and “getting motivated” and “having motivation vs not having motivation.” As Dr. Robert Anthony states, “Motivation describes your attitude when you would rather do one thing more than another at a particular time.” (48) If this is motivation, then it is true that everyone is always motivated. If you are sitting at home all day watching TV on the couch, you are motivated to do that – that is what you would rather do at that particular time. You can’t do anything – even a nonaction – without being motivated; “you will always do what you would rather do than not do.” (Anthony 48). The only thing there is that can cause you to change your behaviour is a change in awareness – ie, a change in focus and consciousness – which is different from motivation. That is, you have to make yourself more aware and provide a fuller awareness of ‘costs and benefits’ in order to bring your goals into fruition.
On my journey, accepting this truth about motivation freed me up to obliterate many, many of these false beliefs about why my goals weren’t happening/why I wasn’t progressing on my goals and allowed me to eventually accept where I was in order to change my consciousness and activate my goals to completion.

4. Open your awareness and stop justifying your current reality if you want to accomplish your goals
This is related to the point on motivation, but it is important to mention because nothing can happen without being open to letting go of some false beliefs that you may really ‘love.’ People love their drama because it energizes them (negatively, but still energizes them) and that’s why it’s there. Be willing to give things up your false beliefs and clear things. And be ready that your crap and baggage often does come up right after you set a goal! It’s the way true goal setting works – you got to clear your stuff before what you’re looking to achieve can come in. You have to realize that it will take a real shift in the way you feel, react, respond etc to things in order to have what you truly desire to come into your life. Be open, and be willing to change and give things up without trying to justify what or why. Justification is the mother of stuckness – whether you are justifying that you are changing or whether you justify why you haven’t got what you want in order not to ‘feel guilty’ about not having certain things you know you could have. Justification keeps you exactly where you are.

5. Zip it!
Don’t talk to people about your goals. This is not a set-in-stone rule, as I do discuss my goals with people. But going around posting it on your facebook and blog and telling everyone around you is a sure way to not achieve your goals. The reason for this is you will be more concerned with what others think instead of your own achievement (it’s approval-seeking). And, if you think about it, someone who is really focused on his/her goals hardly has the time to tell other people about your goals.

Bonus: Stay flexible

Goals are meant to be led by joy, creativity, fun and ease, so let that flow in the direction it will. This is also another reason why telling people about your goals can be destructive – you may feel a need to defend them and justify or keep on with a goal that doesn’t make sense anymore. Write them down, but rewrite as often as necessary. Visit them often to see how they feel, and make adjustments whenever appropriate. This dynamic part of goal setting allows things you unfold before you the way they are meant to.

– Catt xxx

References
Anthony, Robert. The Ultimate Secrets of Total Self-confidence. New York, N.Y., U.S.A.: Berkley, 2008. Print.

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