Would our goals look different if we set them from a place of self-love rather than self-loathing? If we were compassionate to ourselves rather than believing there is something to fix about ourselves?
We are moving into the time of year where people are quick to say things like, “New year, new you!” or “Become a better version of you in the new year!”
I used to fall into this trap, believing that I needed to improve [fill in the blank] and I would be a better person. If I could only reach that number on the scale. If I could only run every day. If I could only get my journaling practice started. If I could only…
But I didn’t need to reach a number on a scale or run every day to be a better person. I don’t need to be a better version of myself. I just need to be me.
Brené Brown says that we are all doing the best we can in any given moment. That looks different for different people because some of us are just trying to survive with what we have. Trying to force opportunities where they didn’t already exist.
I do not need to be a new me and you don’t need to be a new you. But if we have opportunities to create goals that allow us to grow and learn, maybe we should try. Creating goals from a place of self-love and compassion for ourselves and others.
There is always room for learning and growth. Learning allows for self-discovery as well as discovery of the world around us. It takes a lot of courage to learn, unlearn, relearn and grow from goals set intentionally.
Setting goals are important for growth, but that is only a small part of the process. The real work comes in the habits and routines we develop. Growth and learning happen in what we do every day.
We’ve all likely heard the expression, “Practice makes perfect.” And there is some truth to that. Our daily practice does help us attain the goals we set for ourselves, but we will never be perfect. In fact, our desire to be perfect often hinders us on our path to growth.
In my book, Running Through My Thoughts, I talk about how I had to run every single day, no matter the weather. I had to run every day because if I didn’t, my record would no longer be perfect. If I didn’t run one day, the streak was over and there was no point in running the next day. By missing one day, I missed a week or more.
It was an all-or-nothing extreme. I either ran every day or I didn’t run. I couldn’t miss a day other than my one day of rest each week. Every other day, I had to pound the pavement.
My need for a perfect streak of running hindered me because there is no way I could run six days a week every week forever. Life, illness, whatever would get in the way at some point. And when it did, I used it as an excuse to throw my hands up and give up.
I see this practice a lot. If we slip up one day and don’t meet our goal for the day, we just give up. There is no point in continuing because the damage is done. We are no longer perfect. We have failed.
In moments of perceived failure, it helps me to take a moment and look back at my progress. Even if I miss a day (or a week) of running, if I take a moment and look back at my progress, I can see the huge improvements I’ve made since I began running.
When I began, I could barely run a quarter-mile. After practicing and working hard, I could run three miles in 26 minutes. That is some major progress! I was never going to be the fastest woman runner, but I didn’t need to be because that wasn’t my goal. I just needed to see the progress I made since the first time I ran.
I’m getting goosebumps thinking about it! That’s how powerful reflecting on our accomplishments can be. Yet, our mind often forgets our accomplishments once they are done. Which might be why we always feel like we need to improve?
Think about a goal you would like to set and look at how you are framing it. Are you setting a goal from a place of lack or a place of compassion?