Updated: Feb 8, 2022
If January is the time for big dreams, fresh starts, and powerful resolutions, February is the time for failure, disappointment, and guilt. Forget all the New Year's hype! Below are three very good reasons why you shouldn't be setting goals right now...
You're going to do it wrong. When it comes to goals, we usually talk about the results we want to achieve. "I need to lose 20 pounds", "I want to run a marathon this year", or "I'd like to be consistently getting 8 hours of sleep per night". The problem is that we can't control outcomes. It's entirely possible you could exercise for an hour a day every day for a month with no movement on the scale. You might put in all the training for your race and the week before the event you fall and break your leg. When the sole focus of your hard work is the result, there is a lot of room for frustration and guilt when you fail to achieve your goal. But what if all the good feelings and rewards were based on your behaviour? What if you got a gold star every time you showed up for a workout? What if your commitment was to a pre-sleep routine 30 minutes before bedtime? When our goals are based on actions we can control, we consistently rack up small "wins" to celebrate along the way to our desired outcome.
You've trained your brain to fail. If you keep say you’re going to do something, then don’t do it, your brain stops trusting you. Even though we commonly say, "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger", studies show that failure can actually sabotage future performance. And when we fail once at a specific goal, we're more likely to fail when we try again. Your subconscious mind likes to stick to the things it knows. If you don't understand how you're sabotaging yourself, it will continue to repeat the cycle because you've taught it that commitment does NOT equal follow through. In order to change this belief, you have to build self-trust by starting small and keeping your word. (And when I say small, I mean SO small that there is no way you could fail!) You need to re-train your brain to learn that when you say something, you truly mean it.
Your timing is terrible. Right now you are super motivated. It's a new year! It's a new you! But what about when you're a few weeks in and what seemed so fresh has become a little stale? What about when things are busier and you can't be as committed? Setting goals that only work when you're feeling good and the timing is right is a recipe for guilt and frustration whenever life isn't perfect - which is most of the time! I suggest shifting your mindset from making New Year's resolutions to creating change that will last a lifetime. Now all of a sudden some of the pressure is lifted and you can stop panicking. Slow, steady progress feels good and is sustainable - even when we're not on our 'A' game.
Goal setting is not intrinsically wrong. It's how you set a goal that determines whether you reach the desired outcome.
Real, long-term change comes when you set yourself up for success. 1. Make your goals based on actions and behaviours you have control over and celebrate every step of the way. 2. Start as small as it takes in order to achieve a 90-100% success rate. 3. Set your goals based around your normal, this-is-how-it-really-is life and focus on enjoying the journey!
If you're looking for more tips on how to set goals you CAN achieve in order to make the changes you desire, check out this replay of my Wellness Wednesday seminar.
You will learn how
set the right kind of goals so that you are in control
replace "hard to break" behaviours
create a mindset that embraces change
break down your desired outcome into actions you can start doing today