I can't tell you the number of times it happens. I am working with a family, and the moment of truth arrives--I ask them how their goal has been going. If I haven't been working with them long, they squirm and break eye contact. Sometimes they laugh nervously. They sheepishly admit it hasn't been going well. Then they wait, a little anxiously, for my response.
I am generally an advocate of tough love, as anyone who knows me well will tell you. I'm the one who will tell you if those pants are not flattering on you. I'm a proponent of letting kids deal with the consequences of their actions as a discipline technique. I'm that person who says the thing that everyone else is thinking. I try to find the kindest way to do it, but I feel that gentle, loving honesty is almost always the best avenue. But when it comes to evaluating your success with a goal, I employ a gentle version of tough love, if there is such a thing.
Goals are static things by nature. They are set. They are often pretty rigid. This time of year, people set "resolutions". A resolution is supposed to be lasting. A resolution is supposed to be constant. Resolutions are not designed to change. They are not flexible. But how often is life rigid? I don't know about you, but my days are flexible. They never turn out the way I expect them to. And my life as a whole has certainly been an exercise in accepting change. Life is fluid by nature. So why shouldn't goals be the same way? This is the very reason I am not a fan of the word "resolutions".
I'm sure there are experts who would disagree with me, but I approach goal-setting like one big exercise in problem-solving. If I'm having trouble achieving a goal I set, I try to simply ask myself what the problem is. I avoid blaming myself, and instead look at it objectively. What do I need to do differently to help me succeed? Was my original goal realistic?
Did it match my personality?
Did it match my natural tendencies?
Does it fit with my life?
Is there an area of the goal that I need to troubleshoot?
For example, if I set a goal to get my kids on a bedtime routine, and I find that there is a section of the routine that isn't going well, then maybe I need to change how I approach that part. Just a little tweak in the right spot can make all the difference between achieiving that goal and throwing it out. Take a moment to compassionately reflect on what went wrong. Last December, I wrote a blog post on the benefits of reflecting when you are having trouble with a goal.
So when someone admits to me that they've been hitting a rough spot with their goal, I ask them one question: what are you going to do about it? If the goal is something that still matters to them, we map out a better approach. We problem-solve. And if they've decided to move on from that goal, we let it go and pick something else. Goal-setting is about moving your life forward, and sometimes the direction you pick initially turns out to be a litttle off. That's okay. Rather than criticizing yourself for veering off course, you can simply try a different direction. Or maybe just a better map.
Whatever goal you decide to set for 2017, take the time to make sure you know your why, start small, and be flexible. Good luck, my friend. You can do it.
I am so glad you are here! Welcome to my blog. Look around and make yourself comfortable, because this is your space, too. My name is Amy, and I am no stranger to the ups and downs of life. Join me as we search for beauty and authenticity, tell our truth, and hold space for each other in the messiness of life.