Now that New Year’s is behind us, we can talk about setting some proper goals, rather than silly resolutions which don’t last more than a few weeks (if that!). As much as you can go hard or go home with new goals, sometimes starting small can really help. Setting small goals definitely helps me, as I find it easier to keep them going up until a point I don’t even notice I’m doing them anymore. And if I don’t carry on with them, it’s doesn’t feel like too much of a failure or a let down. But when you’ve conquered a few small goals, the transition to bigger goals then seems less daunting, and more achievable.
For today’s challenge, In The Moment magazine explain why setting small goals can help you with loving yourself more:
Building up our self esteem can take time, but it doesn’t need to be daunting. By setting ourselves small goals, we can raise our confidence over time.
Set yourself a small goal to motivate you, such as cooking a new recipe once a week or going for a walk every weekend. Once you’ve formed a new habit, you’ll feel ready to set some bigger goals.
Petit a petit, l’oiseau fait son nid*
I’m the first one to admit, that I’m not the most patient of people. When I have a new idea in mind, a new goal I want to achieve, a new business venture I want to start, (or dare I say it, move to France and start a new life there!) I want to start seeing results straight away!
But it’s rarely the case really, isn’t it? Good things take time. Sure, from time to time you find yourself in the right place at the right time and magic happens. But generally, you know you’ll get your dream job/promotion if you work hard with that goal in mind; you know your new business will start to take off once you’ve created contacts and got yourself and your work known in the right circles…
Good things usually take time, you reap what you sow as they say. It’s the same with yourself. You may set yourself with big, long term goals: I want to lose weight, I want to eat healthy, I want to stop smoking, I want to medidate every day.
However making such big changes in your life doesn’t happen overnight. How many times did you start a diet only to give up because you’d had a “bad” days where you ate “bad” food? How many times did you stop smoking only to find yourself starting again when you were stressed? How long have you been paying for your gym membership, and how much sportswear did you buy when you wanted to get fit, only to have it gathering dust because you’re too tired/busy to keep up with the unrealistic training schedule you set yourself? Then there’s the problem that you feel faced with “defeat”, when you don’t continue with your set goals, it can be very demoralising, and your self love bucket can take a hit!
I can relate. I’ve done most of these, numerous times. My main current ones I struggle with are eating healthy and exercise. As soon as I decide to eat healthy, all i can think about is eating a cheeseburger and chips. I’m not even that much of a fan of chips. But suddently that’s all I can think about!
Same with exercising, I know running is an easy way to exercise. I can simply put on my trainers and go straight from the house. I can run as little or as a far as I like. But I always push myself too hard and end up hurting myself, and by the time I’m better the motivation has weaned off…
I know I do it. Have done for years…
Setting Myself Small Goals
I still have longer term goals, goals I know will take time but remain acheivable in the long run. However this year I have also added a different method. I didn’t set myself any New Year’s Resolutions. Instead I decided to make small changes, small goals. The main ones are:
Go for Walks More
As mentioned above, whenever I set myself the goal for running, I never usually last long. I don’t seem to need much of a excuse to talk myself out of it. However, by making this goal a little smaller, I seem able to fit it into my day, or should I say, I am more willing to make it fit in my day, than running. This month I have walked whenever possible, avoiding using the car as much as possible.
I do love a good, long walk. The kids also love going for walks, so when the sun was out at the weekend, we all went for a walk around Bristol Harbourside. Twelve kilometres later, we were home, happy and a lot more relaxed!
So this small goal is definitely high on my list, especially as we about to sell the car so we’ll have no choice but to go back to walking everywhere as we used to a few years ago!
The One-Minute Technique
I can’t remember where I read this, but I have a feeling it was in a magazine. Essentially, it said that if something takes less than a minute to do, you should do it there and now, rather than put it down to leave until a later time.
I remember reading that and thinking “I can do that!”. And I have been ever since. Instead of leaving piles of clothes, toys, etc at the bottom of the stairs to be taken upstairs, I now take it upstairs straight away (also a great way to add steps to my fitbit, so extra bonus!). I handwash things as and when we finish with them.
Obviously, it means that things don’t simply stack up around the house. I’m a very visual person, so when I see a clear space, when my home is clean and tidy, I find it a lot easier to feel calm and at peace. That day I tidied the office felt amazing. I instantly felt calm yet creative and wanting to get to work. It works best for me. So working on a small goal to help keep the house tidy and clutter free is a bonus all round too for me.
Eat More Veg
A bigger, longer term goal, is for me to lose a little weight for health reasons. I know this will happen when I transition from walking to running/swimming. But in the meantime, as a small goal to get me going, I have made changes to how I eat, focussing on eating a healthy, balanced diet.
My small goal in this respect is making sure I add more veg to our meals. Whether by having a green salad as a side for most meals, as we did growing up in France; or simply adding more veg than I normally would to the dish, such as chopping up lots of different vegetables from the fridge etc for a pasta sauce, lasagne or in a juice, it’s really easily done and Barry, the kids and I all feel better for it.
Accidental Small Goals & Day by Day Technique
I’ve tried various approaches in the past when setting goals. I’ve tried posting my goals on social media. I’ve written them down in a list that I then pinned onto the fridge. I’ve written them in my journal. I’ve set them as screensavers on my phone…
But recently, I’ve found myself setting accidental goals, and they seem to work pretty well. I call them accidental, as they usually start out completely by accident. From there, I take it day by day, seeing how far I can carry on.
One of my recent examples was when I didn’t drink coffee for a week. It started out because Barry had been ill, so decided to only drink hot water and lemon. I decided to drink this too, as I kept meaning to reduce my caffeine intake, so I thought I’d join in.
Now, I’m someone who drinks easily 5-6 coffees a day, all day long. I rarely feel the effects of it and it it doesn’t seem to affect my sleep. So going cold turkey was pretty brutal and the withdrawal symptoms I had were not pretty! But this made me more determined a way… I thought if withdrawing caffeing from my system had that strong an effect on me, was it actually good for me? (I know no caffeine is better than drinking caffeine… this definitely proved that point!).
So from there, I decided to see how long I could go without drinking coffee. i didn’t set myself a time limit. Instead, I decided to take it day by day.
In another article I read (I must start writing names of articles down…), it suggested this tecnique as well: if you felt you were about to break your goal, just say to yourself you could do it tomorrow. “I can have that cake tomorrow”, “I can buy that dress tomorrow”. It’s like you’re telling your brain “I’m not saying no, just not today. Maybe tomorrow”. It can then make it seem more manageable and less pressure.
My Final Small Goal
Finally, the main goal I’ve taken for this year, is to do more things that make me happy.
This can be something as simple as sitting down with a hot drink for five minutes whilst watching an episode of Friends. Or simply taking time to stare at the garden rather than rushing around. Taking the long way home to prolong the walk. Meeting up with a friend. Being silly with the kids. Paying a compliment to someonne.
I’ve mostly been focussing on small happiness goals. Apparently in Japan a similar practice which they call Kaizen, or the one-minute principle. At the heart of this method is the idea that a person should practice doing something for a single minute, every day at the same time as part of their continued self-improvement.
Small Goals and You
Don’t completly strike off your long term goals, do put these on your dream board and continue working towards them.
But why not set yourself some small goals in the meantime to help you along the way?
To help inspire you along the way I’ve started a Pinterest board for small goals inspiration which you can find here.