Any road will take you there

There’s many reasons we are what we’ve become
I’m going through changes
ripping out pages
I’m going through changes now

-Langhorne Slim

Now that it’s February, can we stop talking about New Year’s resolutions?

Really?

Cool, thanks.

Hey, it’s not that I have anything against self-improvement or setting goals. (After all, I have a whiteboard on my fridge reminding me of my daily cardio and professional-related reading minimums… dork.)

But my issue is with the seemingly arbitrary timing and the fact that when you’re pressured to set goals—whether it’s because it’s January 1 or your boss mandates that you have KPIs—there isn’t necessarily the same level of personal buy-in to maintain motivation and momentum.

Research has shown that even though half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each January, only about 8 percent will succeed.

Further, this whole business of ‘new year, new me’ doesn’t exactly inspire personal evolution, but rather an expectation of revolution. The date on the calendar has changed, so now we’re a new version of ourselves? I call BS.

charlie brown

For example, say you want to lose 15 pounds before swimsuit season. That’s a lofty goal, and it doesn’t (nor should it) happen overnight. And when it doesn’t, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up, especially if you didn’t factor in the challenges in implementation or set an actual plan for adapting to this ‘new you.’ You just decided you were going to change; you were going to exercise, eat right and look like Kendall Jenner.

But you didn’t think about all the happy hours you were going to get invited to or the fact that Postmates will deliver you Taco Bell… or that in this world of nearly instant gratification, that losing one pound a week might actually feel like failure.

A lot of times we don’t stop to figure out why we haven’t already been able to achieve a specific goal. We may blame lack of willpower, but I think it’s more than that. It’s not knowing or planning on how to deal with all the things that get in the way, all those things that make up our hectic, stressful, overwhelming lives.

So we set goals or select a destination without a map, but we never bother to specifically plot out how we’re going to get there or set a plan for avoiding the roadblocks along the way. We drive off, paradise as the destination, but when the proverbial car hits a pothole or we get lost, we give up. There’s just no way to get there now.

Cause when you don’t know where you are going
any road will take you there

-Dawes

And we blame ourselves. We feel bad about ourselves. And I don’t know about you, but I’m sick of that.

So how do we get around it? I think there’s a few approaches, one of which is setting smaller goals. You know, SMART goals… Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. Don’t focus on the end game; think about things in terms of quarters. (Yes, I really am using a sports analogy here.) You don’t have to score all the points, or lose all the pounds, or make all the money, at the beginning. Just make sure you’re knocking some of that out each week or month or whatever time frame you set.

Then, while everyone is so optimistic about how they’re going to be this best new version of themselves, be the opposite. Think of all the ways your goals could get off track, your plans thwarted, your successes turn into failures.

I’m serious. It may sound pessimistic but by acknowledging all the ways that things could go wrong, you can design a solution before they ever do. That way, you know how to tackle (yes, another sports term!) these challenges so that they don’t defeat you.

And finally, my best advice comes last. But first, I want to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Yes, this site was designed to be a fashion blog, and this post (and several others) don’t really reflect that. In fact, it reminds me of a scene in Sex and the City when Carrie meets with her editor Enid at Vogue, and Enid says, “The assignment was 500 words on accessories, not men. And I’m not convinced she knows anything about purses. Or, for that matter, men.”

enid gif

Look, I’m not convinced I know anything about fashion, or for that matter, life. But I do know what works for me. And in a world of nearly 8 billion people (of course, most of whom will never read this), maybe there’s at least one other person for whom this advice could help.

So, here’s the last piece. Ask yourself why. Why are these your goals anyway? Why do you want to make more money? Why do you want to learn French?

Rarely are these aspirations about the goals themselves. They’re about the feelings or the opportunities they create. And when you start to imagine what life could be like with a better salary (you can pay off your student loans and eliminate that stress), or you envision speaking fluent French so that you can fully immerse yourself in that vacation you’ve always dreamed of, staying motivated and committed becomes easier and more desirable.

It’s not about hitting a specific number on a scale. It’s about feeling more confident when you walk into a room. That’s the stuff that matters, and that’s the stuff that keeps us going when we do hit roadblocks we’ve prepared for and when seemingly tiny goals are all we can check off the list.

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