Ah, a new year and new resolutions. This whole concept of resolutions and goals has me thinking about both sides of the coin. On one hand, setting a goal can be motivating and inspiring, it can push you to explore new heights and help you grow as an individual. On the other hand, it can be a negative experience and potentially hold you back from what you should have been doing, especially if the goaldidn’t get you the expected result or you didn’t accomplish it. So, how do you plan for your future and allow for flexibility, adventure, recalculating?
Here are 4 things I wish someone would have told me upon college graduation when it comes to thinking about goals:
1. Start small. Goals should have a progression, a next step. Having goals that help break larger ideas/hopes down into smaller ones will ensure forward momentum.
2. Goals should be flexible. Our desires, abilities, free time, and commitments change constantly. So allow yourself the freedom to adjust your goals.
3. Goals should excite and motivate you. If they don’t, then perhaps that isn’t the right goal for you.
4. Goals should not be dependent on the behaviors of others. You are only responsible for you. If you make a goal that is dependent on another, make sure that both parties are committed to it. If not, it could end in disappointment or heartbreak.
After graduating from college I was living in NYC, with a great boyfriend, a decent job and a small but perfect apartment. I had some career based goals about getting promoted and working up the chain, but my personal goals centered around my boyfriend. I wanted to move back to California around age 24/25, so that we could have a California wedding when I was 26, followed by a child before I was 30. As each year went by, my five year plan didn’t change, but my underlying feeling about it did. I wasn’t in love with NYC. I wasn’t in love with my job. And my relationship wasn’t giving me the same spark that it had years ago. But I was determined – this was my five year plan – it could not fail. I could not fail. He was the person to make my five year plan come true… or was he?
As it turns out, he was not. Not his fault, or my fault – just wasn’t meant to be. Nor was I meant to continue in that job or live in that city or stick with that five year plan. It took me over a year to accept this new reality, especially when it came to my boyfriend; as though we weren’t the perfect fit, he offered emotional support and comfort that I loved and very much needed. His support became a crutch, keeping me on a path that wasn’t the best fit for me. Within 6 months I had ended my relationship, quit my job, and moved back to California. And while there was comfort in this decision to embark on a different path, there was also a lot of fear, and uncertainty. But that is pretty typical with change isn’t it? There is excitement mixed with fear. Growing pains, so to speak.
So, as we start the new year we are thinking about how to approach these unexpected challenges by setting appropriate goals. How are you starting the new year?