Goals. Everyone needs them. They empower us, motivate us, and help us to improve as individuals. Long term, short term, a daily to do list, every notch on those mental or paper logs is a wish to better ourselves in some way. Goals seem so cut and dry. You set one and either succeed or fail; seems simple enough. But there’s much more to it than that. We dictate our own success or failure before we’ve set even one foot on the path to achieving anything. Because they are by definition aspirational it seems like we need to reach for the stars so to speak. But really, although it often feels like cheating or hedging the bet in our favor, we need to set goals that are medium distance and achievable so we can build on them over time to reach the stratospheric ones.
One morning during the first week of March I woke up, started scrolling through Instagram in bed, and stumbled upon a photo my husband had posted. He’s not big on social media and doesn’t often post unless something major is going on, so I was surprised to see a photo from him on a random weekday. He had posted a set of goals for the month. It inspired me to do the same for myself, and so I wrote a list of seven things I wanted to stay on top of for the month. My first instinct used to be to try to go from zero to 100 right away. If I wanted to get back on my fitness game I’d say something stupid like “I’m going to work out 5 days a week.” Some people can set those goals and achieve them. I am not that person. To go from nothing to 150% is foolhardy and when I set goals like that for myself and don’t even come close to reaching them the first or second week, everything crumbles from there.
So this time I set achievable goals. I wanted to work out three days a week, make my lunch at home four days a week, write twice a week, and practice Spanish using my Duolingo app every day. Did I achieve any of these goals? No. Not every week of March. But I worked harder and came closer than I did in the days when I would set advanced level goals in my beginning stages. And I think that’s what gets lost in the shuffle with goals – it’s the work that matters. If a goal is a wish to be a better version of yourself then the work is what gets you there. Success and achievement are nice but even if you fail to reach a goal you’ve still striven to improve and that in and of itself IS improvement. To be cliche for a moment, failure is a part of life. You’ll never succeed 100% of the time. So when you fail to reach a goal you dust yourself off and start again; this time a little wiser, a little stronger, and a few steps closer to glory.