It’s okay to dream big but remember: big changes don’t happen overnight. Build momentum toward your grander goals by first focusing on the smaller goals that can get you there.
Happy New Year!
You did it! You made it through the holiday gantlet and maybe even enjoyed some downtime and relaxation. Congratulations!
But now it’s January – a brand new year – and the natural (cultural) inclination is to set all kinds of big goals for a successful, productive 2022. “New year; new you” and all that, right?
…is it just me, or does that feel kind of yucky? Not only does this run counter to the resting and recharging that we ought to be doing in these winter months but this approach, which often manifests as a list of lofty New Year’s resolutions, generally doesn’t work.
New Year’s resolutions are rarely successful.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve made countless resolutions in the past and almost never succeeded in reaching my goals. Unfortunately, this holds true for most humans, even ambitious, high-achieving types. Each year we may tell ourselves that this time it’ll be different – this time we’re ready – only to settle back into our usual routines and habits months, weeks, or days into the new year. Heck, you may already be losing sight of any goals or resolutions you set on January 1. No shame!
There are several reasons why this occurs (and people like Caroline Arnold can explain it more thoroughly than I), but simply put: we are creatures of habit. Those routines that we slip back into are the product of years of repetition. They’re well-worn neuropathways and, as it turns out, it takes work to break those habits and build new routines. It’s so much easier to maintain the status quo, even when that status quo is preventing us from making our dreams come true.
“There’s only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.”
Desmond Tutu’s elephant metaphor may seem a bit cliché, but damn if it isn’t applicable.
Think about most goals or resolutions that folks make. They often sound like “I’m going to be more organized”, “I’m going to practice more self-care”, or “I’m going to start my own business”. All good goals, but the lack of specificity here makes these rather ambiguous, which our brains don’t like. That ambiguity trips our fear centers in the brain, giving us all the reasons in the world to justify our way out of making any changes or taking any action.
That’s not to say that you shouldn’t allow yourself to have big dreams and ambitions. Nor should you give up goal-setting entirely. This is simply a reminder to be intentional with your approach.
Start small and be specific.
It’s still winter so, as I mentioned above and in the previous post, now is a great time to rest and reflect. It’s the time to get clear about how you want to show up for yourself and others in the coming months. There’s no need to rush into taking action just yet. Give yourself the time and space to isolate what you want to change and why. Having a strong “why” will support you in those tough moments when you’re feeling the urge to throw in the towel.
Then, sort out your “how”. As you set these intentions, define the small, specific, attainable actions that you can take each day, week, or month to get you closer to your goal. These small changes and actions result in quick wins which provide the momentum needed to keep tackling more and larger goals on the horizon.
And remember, you don’t have to do it alone! Delegate, delegate, delegate. Oftentimes, our biggest hindrance to achieving our goals is our personal capacity or lack thereof. Consider leveraging your support to put you in a better position to move forward. Give some of that work away so you can focus on what matters most to you right now.
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