Saturday, December 30, 2017

New Year's Goals or a New Year’s Theme?

I am not really a fan of New Year's resolutions or goals. I feel like that brings about a pressure that is unneeded when the real goal is personal growth and general life improvement in some way. Instead, I like the term mile stones. I also believe that goals without a larger vision will struggle to take root. Without a vision, why bother with goals anyways?

I feel like people use goals in place of vision. If life is a journey, let's use the analogy of a road trip. If I am traveling to Mount Rushmore from Portland, Oregon, I know what Mount Rushmore looks like, and my vision is to see it in person. With a little bit of pre-planning I even know exactly where it is at. So I pack up, hop in my car and drive off. As I am traveling, I can only see so far ahead. Clarity will vary at times. Sometime I see vast miles of landscape, other points along the way I only see the semi in front of me. But that doesn't stop me from driving, from traveling. I have a vision of where I want to go and where I am at now. That vision feeds my journey. If I run out of gas, or get a flat tire, or perhaps I take a wrong turn, it doesn't matter. I am delayed, but the vision is the same, and I'll hit my milestones sooner or later. Without the vision though, none of that would happen. I would still be right where I was at, sitting at my computer in Portland, Oregon, denying myself the experiences and rewards that come from any journey.

An example of resolutions would be setting a goal for a certain weight limit. It is an all-right idea if it motivates you. However, what happens after you hit that weight goal? Do you then quit caring? Set a new goal? Is the goal your weight or your health? I feel by building a habit of health, benefits like weight loss will be a natural byproduct of your change in focus, a focus brought about by vision. Hyper-focusing on a number on a scale creates a tunnel-vision on just that, and blinds you to other avenues you should or could have taken to achieve the results you wanted. A narrow focus also means a lack of flexibility and an increased likely-hood of failure. Repeated failure will then often lead to discouragement and frustration. There are just too many negative aspects about goal setting for me to want to partake in it. It works for some, but by taking the vision & journey route you'll meet less resistance, and find more forgiveness for imperfection.

Let’s take the example kicking a tobacco habit. Having kicked a tobacco habit myself, I know the struggle. I actually quit many times. It was not uncommon to hear someone say “You’re quitting again? Good for you!” Each time I attempted to quit, it felt like the habit grew. If you walk into the new year with a goal to stop smoking or chewing, you'll probably fail. (Sorry!) However, if you have vision of personal health, start with eating better. The better food choices will make getting a cardio workout easier. When you’re working hard to build up cardio, you'll find that the allure of tobacco just isn’t there. Eventually, by focusing on health in general, you'll erode the foundation of the tobacco addiction. For me, the motivation was financial and health. I couldn't believe the amount of money I was spending on it. Combine that with my increased health awareness due to some minor health issues I was experiencing, and better stress management (exercise!), the allure of tobacco subsided.

Last year, I decided to have a theme for 2017 instead of a list of goals. The theme for 2017 was getting a solid handle on life by taking care of my daily responsibilities, essentially becoming more functional as a member of society. It sounds simple, but I was a rather dysfunctional individual. Now that my life is arguably a lot more stable, I find myself walking into 2018 with a new theme. The theme for 2018 will be building a health-driven life style, starting with physical health. I believe there are four pillars of health: physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual. All of these will be a priority, but by having physical health as a priority, the others should fall place in life much easier. The And since I no longer have the stress of a borderline dysfunctional life, I should experience less resistance in building a gym habit (and other habits!).

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