If you are struggling, first, please join me in taking a nice, slow, deep breath. Ahhhhh. Much better.
You can barely look anywhere this time of year without seeing someone talking about their resolutions, goals and newfound motivation for the New Year. It’s the perfect time to channel the excitement that comes with a fresh start and leaving the past behind. But…what if you just aren’t on the train yet? What if all you see is one big undone list? What if you see a huge mountain and just don’t have that same motivation? Or worse, what if the pressure of picking the perfect “word of the year” or carefully crafting goals for every area of your life and making them look beautiful on paper overwhelms you so much that you just avoid it altogether? So much pressure everywhere you look. That’s the double-edged sword of social media, friends. It can be a great motivator and source of inspiration – and it can tear you right down, too. If you let it.
“When you’re in a pit, all you see is the pit,” my church Pastor shouted a few months ago. Ever have those blast of air in the face moments where something makes so much sense you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it sooner? How are we supposed to get motivated when we feel so overwhelmed and exhausted by everything? Not to mention, how many of us write out beautiful lists and then leave them in the back of a notebook or up on a board and then never REALLY look at them and embrace them again?
I don’t have all the answers, but since I’m feeling this way, I will share how I’m handling it.
Carve out 30 minutes. Grab a pen and paper of your choice. Vow not to over-complicate.
Think about the things that are most important to you. These may also be the things that make you feel the worst when you don’t make them a priority. Write those things at the top of the list.
Many of us probably learned how to set SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realsitic, Time-bound) in school. For those of you who didn’t, the short version is that you should be setting realistic goals that you can measure and achieve and know when you’ve achieved them. While I think this is a totally valuable method, for someone who is totally overwhelmed with this process OR for someone who has done this and still struggled with achieving them year after year, this doesn’t always get your head in the right place to actually achieve your goals.
Pick really small, daily or almost-daily actions you can take that are in line with your goals. Overwhelming goal: Climb the mountain. Better goal: Take a few steps up the mountain. Write down your few steps up the mountain for every huge mountain you feel like you need to climb. Keep them small and reasonable. The only way people change their lives is by changing their daily habits. Forget the mountain. The mountain is the prize. The STEPS are the goal.
Put things in perspective
Practice contentment and gratitude. Constantly seeking out ways to make your life better without thinking of all the ways your life is great will never, ever get you closer to your goals. You have to learn to be content with what you have before achieving goals will fulfill you. Make the small daily things your focus. The rest will follow. Take a deep breath. Give yourself a break. Be grateful for the opportunity to take the small steps every day.
There’s no way to climb the mountain without taking the small steps up the mountain.