In setting goals, if we’re setting them large enough, we acknowledge that to accomplish them we will need to change the very state of who we are. We understand that we will have to be fitter or smarter or any other state of “better” to be more than what we currently are. The goal itself is not the prize, rather it is in becoming the person who is capable of accomplishing such a task – a person more disciplined, more dedicated or more capable than before. When we look at our goals this way, we are able to create a clearer vision for our own identity and reframe our story of success and failure.
Achieving a body weight squat or your first pull up will in and of itself bring you nothing. But becoming a person who believes that you are capable of such a thing and have trained your body to follow that confidence is the key. Accomplishing your goals will create the stepping stones to becoming the type of person that you want to be. A worthy goal will set you up for the success of another.
Then if accomplishing our goals is seen as a byproduct of the pursuit in becoming the person we imagine being, our task becomes living in harmony with the value of the goal and in doing so we diminish the risk of blinding ourselves by the meaningless measure of the task alone. A 200lbs back squat won’t bring you happiness, but the strength you gained as a result of the pursuit for it will bring you confidence, the friends you gained at the gym as you worked towards your goal will have brought you relationship, and you’ll live a healthier life than you did before. If you arrive at your goals battered, injured and frustrated, your pursuit is wrong.
As you chase after your new goals eagerly into the new year, don’t let your own dedication blind you. Ask yourself a few guided questions that will bring you success irregardless of a new PR:
Who should I spend my time with? It is often heard that we are the culmination of the five people we spend the most time with. Who are the people whose values best guides you towards accomplishing your goals? Who are the people that have strengths in the qualities you need in order to have success?
How will my goals set me up for the next success? You don’t necessarily need to have the master plan for your life set out, but recognize the path along which accomplishing your goals will set you on. What character qualities will this endeavor bring you that benefits your future actions and pursuits?
What are the obstacles I will face along the way? Too often, someone eagerly sets a goal without considering the challenges they will be faced with. If unprepared, these trials come as a surprise, catch you off guard and steer you off course, leaving you with a sense of failure. If you first identity the challenges (mental, physical or emotional) that you may face along the way, the hardship they bring will be a mindful part of the process and any setback will be seen as a part of that journey in overcoming rather than a failure.
What are my non-negotiables? Minimizing the energy you waste to activities that stray from your goals allows your to stay focused to the task. What tasks can you devote to as non-negotiable habits that will set you up for success? If you have already chosen to eat healthy all week, you will not need to make a decision each day between healthy and unhealthy options. If you have a weight lifting PR in mind, showing up to the gym three days per week may be a non-negotiable. The little daily habits and routine add up.
Set meaningful goals this year that add value to your character and structure a plan around your mission. Don’t be fitter and stronger by years end only to be broken and angry, rather take chase of being the person who can handle such a task with confidence and grace. If you’re going to spend the next year chasing something, make sure it’s worthy of your pursuit.