The holidays are almost like time travel. I can be sitting at my home with Jack, my dog, and look at one childhood photo and feel ten-years-old all over again.
Goal setting during the New Year makes me feel the same way. I feel like the Roman god Janus with two heads. One head looks to the past and the other head looks to the future.
I recently went on a trip to Thailand and Cambodia. When I returned home, I was feeling inspired and decided to sit down, embrace the past and future and write out my 2015 goals. Before I began committing to my goals on paper I pulled out a notebook filled with goals from the last few years. Looking at these past goals was informative, celebratory, frustrating and at times entertaining.
Some goals I have achieved easily. Some goals felt daunting at the time, but now I look back and think, why did I stress out so much about this? Other goals I failed at several times before I succeeded. And then some goals I still “fail” at constantly.
Failure doesn’t feel great.
But failure isn’t the problem. Our perspective is the problem. How we see and interact with failure dictates if and when we will reach our goals.
So what is the solution? Spend less time avoiding failure. We will all fail. There is no way around it. So instead of trying to be perfect we can learn to fail well. For Mindful Monday this week I would like to share a few tips on how to fail well.
1. Ask for help. When I am failing and all I want to do is stick my head in the sand I reach out to loved ones. They remind me to be kind to myself. And they always have a way of showing me what is already right in front of me.
2. Forgive yourself quickly. You decided you were no longer going to drink soda. But you are at the movie theatre. Everyone is getting popcorn and nachos. It has been grey and snowy all week and all you want is a Diet Coke. You get a large soda and guzzle it down in the movie. Later that night you feel horrible. You tell yourself, I will never be able to kick this habit. I don’t have any self-control. Stop right there and forgive yourself. You may have slipped-up today. But that doesn’t mean you will tomorrow. Let it go. And try again.
3. Be flexible. Being rigid isn’t going to help you work out everyday and it certainly won’t help you create a moving novel. During your journey to reach a certain goal you will get off track. Know this and embrace it. Don’t treat it like a disaster. If you don’t write one day, don’t freak out and tell yourself you will never be an author. Just sit down the next day and write. If it helps keep a journal or document on a calendar what days you accomplish your goal. Celebrate the days that you meet your goals.
Before I go, a quick word about New Year’s resolutions and goals. Don’t create a goal because you SHOULD. Slow down and really ask yourself: What do I want my life to be like in 2015? What do I want to offer the world?
Take baby steps. You won’t write a novel in a day. Or even during a weekend. You will write it one paragraph at a time.