What are the reasons why we set goals if we sometimes don’t achieve them? Fear can paralyze us. Commitment takes hard work and energy, and finding those resources within can overwhelm us.
With the fresh start of the New Year, we have an opportunity to be intentional and set goals that draw meaning from our lives and are long-standing. Goal-setting can be like running a marathon; with all that training comes excitement and motivation, and we can speed off when the gun cracks. When we become tired, we may go back to our old ways. After all, we are creatures of habit!
Not surprisingly, this got me thinking about the movie, Groundhog Day. For those who haven’t seen it, it’s about a man, played by Bill Murray, who lives the same day on repeat. Bill Murray is a grouchy, detached individual, who is focused on selfish interests, uses his humor to put others down, and complains about his frustrations, thus pushing others away. When he gets stuck in a time loop, he begins the process with much reluctance that he is in the same motionless direction as before. After this brings no fulfillment, he engages in reckless behavior, such as binge-drinking and daredevil driving, trying to numb his emotions of despair and find purpose in his life. However, he realizes that the way he has been living his life hasn’t brought him fulfillment or a sense of purpose.
Bill Murray has a profound realization that he can waste his days away, or he can instead choose to embrace each day, and find the joy that each one brings. Trapped in a time loop, he seizes this as an opportunity to be intentional about the person he wants to become, and commits to making these changes in hopes of finding purpose and meaning. He has found that he cannot bring others to fulfill his needs, but that he can find self-improvement by educating himself on a daily basis. He takes piano lessons, learns a foreign language, invests in meaningful relationships, and sacrifices his time by helping others in needs and forming close connections.
Many times we want change but taking action is the difficult part. We can give up before we begin, make small changes and get defeated with the results, or we become drained of energy and stop putting in the effort. After all, achieving goals, and our lives, is hard work! Something worth having rarely comes easy, and we have to be willing to go the distance, if we want the results. Each day is an opportunity to be the person we desire, change our actions and behavior, and to put the mistakes and failures of yesterday behind us.
Like fear, shame can keep us from believing we are deserving of good things, because we see that we failed to achieve our goals and we become disappointed in ourselves and give up. However, setbacks are in fact a part of the journey and highlight our humanness. We can learn from our mistakes and accept that they are opportunities for growth and connection; thereby allowing it to shape and strengthen our character.
Here are some questions to ask yourself with the start of the New Year:
What can you do to live a life worth living?
What goals can bring that life?
What are the small steps toward achieving your goals every day?
Here are some tips:
- Make 3 goals of the change you want to see in your life.
- Focus on the small steps that work toward those goals. When we build upon success by achieving our small goals, this boosts our confidence, and we are more likely to achieve lasting change.
- Make goals that are SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound).
- COMMITT- This means that even when we do not feel like following through on our goal, we take action first, and allow the feeling to follow. When we focus on the rewards and benefits, it motivates our behavior.
- Set the pace and expect setbacks- Offer yourself self-love and breathe when goals aren’t achieved. This happens! Tomorrow is another day to re-direct our focus and get back on track.
If you feel yourself struggling to get where you want to go, call us at Owens & Associates Counseling & Therapy Center, we’d love to help!
Happy New Year!!
Michelle Wernberg, MA, LPC