I remember going back to school in January after a Christmas break when I was a lot younger- maybe 7 or 8. We’d come back, excited to see our friends again and with renewed energy, full of stories from over the Christmas break- who got what and who went where. The teachers always took this fresh start as a good opportunity to teach us about resolutions.
The ‘New Year’s Resolution Lesson’ always went something along the lines of… ‘it’s the new year, so a good time to make a resolution to get/do better at something’. So we’d come up with resolutions: get better at spelling… be nicer to my sisters… be smarter… that sort of silly thing. We’d write them on paper leaves, stick them to the tree on the wall, and forget about them by the next day.
That was basically all I ever learnt about resolutions in primary school.
But as I’ve gotten older, I’ve figured there is actually a point to have resolutions- or more accurately, goals.
I think there is a big difference between a resolution and a goal, and we need to be careful which one we set. Making a resolution is more of a fixed decision; for example, I will work out more in 2021; whereas setting a goal is creating an aim and then doing certain things to gradually work towards it; for example, I am going to try to work out more in 2021.
For me, the beauty of a goal is that it acknowledges the fact that humans aren’t perfect and that we can’t just make a difficult decision and then implement it immediately. With a goal, there is leeway- it is realistic. You can try, and fail, and then try again. You can create stages within the goal and do things to help you achieve it.
That’s why, I’m setting goals for 2021, not resolutions. I’ve come up with a handful of goals I want to achieve by the end of the year, and a couple of ways to achieve them.
There are three steps to setting goals:
- Make the goals (consider your why)
- Come up with steps to take to achieve the goals
- Ask someone/something (like an app) to hold you accountable for sticking to your goals
Let me give you an example:
One of my goals for this year is to exercise more. My reason for this goal is because I know that I always feel really good and happy after I run or workout, but I don’t always have strong enough mental power to force myself out of bed and into shorts and a sweatshirt, especially on a cold, weekday morning!
So, knowing this, I set myself this goal, and then came up with a few steps I’m going to follow to help me to achieve this goal. For example, I’m going to come up with a schedule for when I’m going to run. The night before, I’m going to get out my clothes and mentally prepare myself to get up on time. And finally, to help keep me accountable, I’m going to redownload Strava to track and record my runs.
I’ve set myself a few other goals too… goals about my school work and the amount of effort I put in, goals about doing other things that are good for me and goals about reading my Bible more. But, trust me, I haven’t gone crazy. The thing is, these goals are my motivation. I know just as well as you do that I’m not going to stick to all of them. There are going to be some months where I barely run at all, or where my grades are slipping more than I can afford. But setting goals shows me a clear target that I can work towards. If I reach that target? Great! I’ll be all the better for it. But if I don’t? Who cares!!! It’s not the end of the world, and I can always try again!
Setting goals is a great habit. It gives you something to work towards and something to motivate you. But, at the same time, you have to be careful not to get too attached. If you don’t make a goal or meet a target? Well, that’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up about it- be gentle and forgiving!
This said, I would defiantly encourage you to try and set some goals- big or small- for yourself this year. Strive to reach them and work hard for them, just don’t let them define you or worry you!
Happy goal setting!