A new year is upon us. Traditionally, this is the time of year where many people set goals for the coming months and fantasize about making this year better than the last.
Pursuing change is admirable, and I applaud anyone brave enough to step outside their comfort zone to make themselves better, happier people. The challenge, however, is that we all have big dreams, which can lead to unfair expectations for ourselves.
The common New Year’s cycle is to make an audacious resolution, jump into the deep-end to bring that resolution to life, and then feel frustrated with the difficulty and immensity of achieving that big resolution.
Without realizing it, we set ourselves up to fail.
If your goal is to run a marathon (26.2 miles) when you have not been running regularly, that distance will be physically impossible for most people. In fact, running a single mile is likely to be as painful as it is humbling. In that moment – in what could be your first day preparing for a marathon – many people will give up because the challenge they picked for themselves feels so big that it can’t possibly be achievable.
That’s the trap of New Year’s Resolutions: We are so excited about the big achievement on the distant horizon that we don’t give ourselves a fair shot in the short-term.
My advice to you:
Break your big goal down into smaller, bite-sized goals.
If you want to run a marathon, start by walking a mile three days a week, gradually introducing jogging but never pushing yourself so hard that you feel like you could collapse. Once you can jog a mile without intense discomfort, extend the distance by another half-mile, walking part of it if you need to.
And so on and so forth.
How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Any big goal is achievable if you give yourself the runway to work up to it, which includes giving yourself some grace when you’re first starting.
Your health coach is a great resource for building a plan that matches your goals, and they are invaluable sources of support when you need to troubleshoot an obstacle.
What are your goals for 2024? How are you breaking them into smaller goals? I’d love to hear from you!