January is an exciting month; people are welcoming the new year, they are armed with their resolutions, and a lot of people want to bring change into their life.
We’ve all been there. We sign up for the gym membership, swear off soda, and make a list of books to read. In the third or fourth week of working really hard, we feel burnt out or begin to lose confidence because we aren’t seeing the change we had hoped.
That’s the problem: so many of us, me included, center our goals around an end goal. The perfect body or the number of books we will read. This isn’t only relevant to New Years Resolutions, but a common pitfall when it comes to goal setting generally.
I’m guilty of this mistake, too. When I was in college, I became obsessed with the gym because I was after the perfect Victoria Secret body. I followed all of the VS angels on Instagram. I basically lived in sportswear and worked out 7x a week. I accomplished so much at the gym but I never felt any different. I didn’t look like the models, so I felt dissatisfied all of the time. I was lifting 20 pound dumbbells and could box jump my height. I could out-plank Shahryar! Still, I was unhappy. I didn’t even notice the gainz (kidding, gains) I was making. When my body changed after I got married (love chub is real, people), I realized how fit, strong, and in shape I had been.
Our most common pitfall in goal setting is pursuing an image rather than a way of being. Pursuing an image isn’t sustainable if you’re truly committed to personal development. The whole point of personal development is that there is always, always some way that you can improve and add value to yourself and those around you. If you’re pursuing an image, your development stops when you achieve that image. Your development also stops if you become disheartened or discouraged at your pursuit and just give up.
When your goal is a way of being, you are much more likely to try different methods in pursuit of your goal. Instead of being shredded, maybe set a goal that you want to be more fit. This is relevant to you if you’re at the beginning of your fitness journey as well as if you already know the ropes and have been working out for some time. There are always more ways you can improve your wellness, and by aiming to feel a certain way, you can have fun and enjoy the journey rather than beat yourself down a path that might discourage you.
I encourage you to set lofty goals that force you to stretch, take risks, and explore new parts of yourself. To be completely honest, I was so afraid to share my writing and my thoughts, that I held off on launching my blog for ages. It took being surrounded by artists and cultural producers and seeing the joy they experienced for me to realize that I wanted to feel joy, too.
What do you want to feel this year? What emotions are you trying to access? What do you want to give to community? What community do you want to build? Write them down, and then write down everything that you do, or want to do, that you think will help you achieve those feelings.
The best part? You’ll start feeling the emotions you seek as soon as you take one step down the path of your journey to feel them.
Thanks for being on my journey toward joy with me.