As we hurtle into a New Year, it’s time to take stock of the year we’ve had and do some goal setting for the year ahead.
Yet when you’re setting new goals, how often do you take the time to consider what you’ve already achieved? To celebrate your successes? Or give yourself a little credit.
This year, I took my annual overseas trip in Nov/Dec, which I’ve never done before. This gave me loads of breathing space to think at the end of the year.
Usually, I review my year from an analytical standpoint. Despite what I’ve achieved, I usually end up feeling like I’ve come up short. That what I’ve done is somehow ‘not enough’.
Can you relate?
This year, I tried something different. I made a conscious decision to write out what I’d done well before I did my goal setting for the New Year. Here are the first few pages that I journaled:
Seeing this mapped out gave me a whole new perspective on the year I’d had. Instead of allowing the perfectionist in me to criticise the goals I had not hit (and there were plenty of those), I was able to see the significant progress I had made.
These don’t have to be material or even ‘big’ goals to an outsider’s eyes. Downsizing to a smaller home, getting my first business wins and travelling through Europe are example of goals that other people may externally recognise as being worthy.
However, sometimes the small personal wins that nobody sees matter even more. Getting to my first yoga class during my recovery from Chronic Fatigue Syndrome might not have looked glamorous but it felt freakin’ awesome. Likewise, publishing my first blog and coming out about my history of disordered eating was one of the most terrifying moments of my life…And it happened behind closed doors in the privacy of my own bedroom.
The small wins can be the sparks that push forward the bigger goals.
Why does celebrating your successes really matter?
Accelerated learning expert Jim Kwik explains that your brain is like a supercomputer and the thoughts we tell ourselves are the hardware. In other words, what we tell ourselves is important. All metaphysical concepts aside, our thoughts literally build our realities.
If you feel like you’ve failed your dreams this year (regardless of whether this has some truth in it), what is the message that you are reinforcing to yourself?
“I’m not good enough.”
“I can’t do this.”
“I’m a failure.”
“I never achieve anything.”
It’s been estimated that 98% of our thoughts are the same day in and day out…And that up to 80% of our thoughts are negative!
Therefore, if we want to create new habits, we need to believe that it’s possible for us to do so. High-level thinking creates a sense of self-efficacy that produces higher level results:
Figure 1: MFC Model of Self-Efficacy & Positive Thinking ©2018
Whenever I doubt the power of my mind, I think of a (slightly gross!) story that happened to me when I was twelve.
I’d had a plantar wart under my Big Toe that I would pick at absent-mindedly (see? I did warn you this would be a bit gross.) One day, a babysitter caught me at this and swatted my hand away, exclaiming that I would spread them if I did this.
So I began scrubbing my hands furiously and worrying about those spreading warts…
Now I kid you not, my toe erupted in plantar warts overnight. In fact, my doctor could not freeze them off, there were so many!
I had been picking at that darn wart for years...It wasn’t until I was told they would spread, and believed it, that they did.
Can you think of an example in your own life where the power of your mind really took you by surprise?
Negative Thoughts Are Like Warts
I truly believe that negative thoughts are like warts. Just like the physical kind, these mental warts spread and multiply, taking root in your brain and convincing you that something is true, when it may not necessarily be so.
Unfortunately, our brain’s default strategy is to think negatively. From an evolutionary perspective, worrying about the future was more helpful for our survival. We are hardwired to worry and focus on the negative.
This is helpful if we wish to forage for a Winter without food. It is not so helpful when we are planning our goals for the year ahead.
We therefore need to consciously switch into a more helpful way of thinking.
How to set goals that build your self-esteem
This year, before you write new goals, I encourage you to celebrate what you’ve already done this year.
Even if things haven’t gone to plan, I’m willing to bet that you’ve done good things that you’re not really giving yourself credit for.
These can be big or small….Start somewhere! Here’s how I did it:
Step 1: Journal it. Schedule in at least 15 minutes of free flow writing to do a brain dump of everything you think you did well in 2018.
Step 2: Reflect. Give yourself a pat on the back for what you’ve done well and reflect on how you can build on this in 2019.
Step 3: Pull not push. Sometimes, when I’m setting goals I have a gut instinct that this isn’t really right for me. Go with that! Great goals should be outside your comfort zone but should not fill you with anxiety. If your goal feels right, it should feel like it’s ‘pulling’ you, rather than feeling like you’re ‘pushing’ to make it work.
Setting goals is a wonderful exercise, provided that it doesn’t over-emphasise the ‘wrong’ in your life and make you lose sight of what’s already good. I hope this perspective helps you to recognise what you’ve already achieved and set you up for an amazing New Year!
Are you looking for a Coach to help you reach your Food, Body Image and Wellness goals next year? Register your interest or inquire about Kali’s ‘Feel Good About Food & Your Body Coaching Program’ via email@example.com phone 0411 581 945.