At this time of year so many of us make New Year’s Resolutions that are meant to change to way we look, feel and behave. However, it’s also pretty common for them to fail. So what can you do?
I’ve written before about SMART goals (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time-limited). SMART goals are a brilliant way to decide what you want to achieve and plan how to do it. It’s also a useful way of breaking down bigger projects into smaller steps.
But if you’ve written out your SMART goals and still aren’t getting anywhere, what then?
First of all… why are you doing this? Where have your goals and resolutions come from? If a goal is based on the wishes of someone else, it can be more difficult to achieve. Especially if you don’t really want to! You might decide the goal isn’t actually right for you at all, which might have consequences (good or bad) for your relationship with the person. Or you might have to work a bit harder to appreciate how achieving the goal could end up being a good thing for everyone.
What will be the final outcome, and how will it help you? So many people, for example, resolve to lose weight. How will that help you, long-term? What part of your life have you put on hold until you are ‘thin’ – and what stops you from doing it now? Are other goals actually holding you back this way?
Do you really want this, or are you doing something you believe you “should”? Perhaps you have an image in your head of the kind of person you ‘should’ be, but is it who you really are? I am a big believer in the idea that self-acceptance is the first step towards happiness. Two of my favourite quotes come from Carl Rogers, in his book On Becoming a Person: A Therapist’s View of Psychotherapy.
“We cannot change, we cannot move away from what we are, until we thoroughly accept what we are. Then change seems to come about almost unnoticed.”
“It becomes easier for me to accept myself as a decidedly imperfect person, who by no means functions at all times in the way in which I would like to function. This must seem to some like a very strange direction in which to move. It seems to me to have value because the curious paradox is that when I accept myself as I am, then I change.”
That is why I have said “Not necessarily” in the title of this post. The quotations above mean that you are far more likely to make lasting changes that benefit you if you can start by accepting yourself as you are. That can be difficult and scary, as it may mean looking honestly at parts of yourself you would rather not. You might have flaws you have been trying to hide. You might even be hiding good things about yourself, because it can be just as scary to think about what showing those things off might mean!
So what do you want to do?