You’re perfect the way you are.

likeWhat’s more fun, starting something challenging that you don’t really know how to do from scratch or putting the finishing touches on something that you have put a lot of love into?

Our economy is based on the idea that you’re not good enough. That you need to be reinvented. And this is the time of the year when the pressure is on.  There’s nothing wrong with working towards a worthwhile goal. But trying to mold your life around the goal isn’t sustainable or fun. Polish up your already perfect self with small, sustainable growth opportunities.

Here are some ways to determine your goals and be successful with them:

Identify what kinds of changes you need to make. If you want to exercise more and you work 60 hour weeks, you have two new behaviors that you have to tackle. One is working less, the other is working out more. Before you can think about upping or starting a fitness routine, you need space in your life for it. So before you go out and buy new running shoes and weight training gloves, you have to figure out how to make time for fitness.

Be honest about who you are and what you like to do. You may have a ton of admiration for people who have the discipline to get up at 5am for a run or enjoy a raw vegan diet, but if you are not a morning person and happen to live on a cattle farm, you’ve got to take this into consideration. Don’t use goal setting as an opportunity to reject or criticize yourself. Once you accept yourself and understand what things in your life are non-negotiable, you are better able to decide how to go about getting fitter, smarter or healthier.

Make a smart investment. I believe that when we spend money on our goals, we are more likely to act on those. For instance, self care has been a big theme for me over the past few weeks. I’ve purchased Groupons for spa treatments, I bought a fancy set of toothbrushes and I’ve booked massages in advance. If I had just said that I’ll take better care of myself, months would have gone by and I would have realized that I hadn’t really done anything. Sometimes you have to bring the right tools or experts in to assist with your goals.

Follow the 80/20 rule. This means that if you stay on plan 80% of the time, the other 20% will take care of itself. And the 20% is important. That’s the fun part of your life. There have been numerous studies that have proven that willpower is exhaustible. And not only that, it takes up mental energy to constantly demonstrate self discipline. If you are working towards a deadline at work or other mentally demanding activities, you’re going to be less effective because a part of your resources is being directed towards keeping yourself under control and not eating a row of Oreos.

Let yourself do things badly. I’ve read that adults are terrible at arts because they are constantly crumpling up their paintings or drawings and starting over, while children keep moving through the learning process and eventually grow in to talented artists. It’s not fun to stop and start things again. What’s fun is doing something to completion, whether or not you did it perfectly. Crossing the finish line always feels good. Right now I’m knitting a scarf and it’s the most painful experience because it’s so ugly. But I will persevere because one day, I know my knitting will be awesome.

Be yourself. Other people’s lives and goals are not your own. If someone is working to improve themselves, it’s not an affront to your lifestyle because you don’t do that. You have different values, a different life and different likes. Focus on things that will help you grow as an individual.

And lastly – don’t make a New Years Resolution, whatever you do. Nothing is more discouraging than watching that gym membership fee come out of your back account from a long-abandoned membership.

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