About this time many of the New Year’s resolutions we’ve made are beginning to cause us immense shame and guilt, as they become more difficult to adhere to and we begin to throw them out with the rotten yam casserole.
Psychology of shame and guilt
It’s this psychology of shame and guilt that often makes new goals and changes impossible to obtain. As soon as a goal is challenged, or an obstacle is experienced many of us have a tendency to blame ourselves, and lose the resolve that we may have had when the goal was originally made.
Who’s to blame?
In one sense, we are to blame. After all, we are ultimately responsible for our actions, or non-action. Our behavior is ultimately under our own control, no one is forcingus to smoke, eat a second serving of ice cream before bed, or lay on the couch instead of exercising. However, the manner in which we make goals – our methods – may be a more appropriate target for our criticism than our self-worth.
Targeting our self-worth
By targeting our self-worth with self talk such as “I’m just no good at this,” or “I’ll never be able to do this,” or “I’m worthless,” all we do is set ourselves up for perpetual failure. If I believe that I am not worthy of the goodness that these changes will make in my life, how will I ever be able to allow myself to give myself these things? This is a huge underlying foundation of making changes that is crucially important.
Realizing the Goodness that we desire
The first step to successful goal achievement and manifesting change in our lives is to realize “why” it is we want to make these changes. Successful goals are achieved when we realize that we want what is ultimately good for ourselves. No one ever made a goal that is consciously destructive or hateful towards themselves. And this may take some time, since often times our goals are linked to superficial cultural opinions – such as “I want to lose weight because I want to look prettier,” or “I want to have more money because then I’ll be successful.” The question is not to come up with different goals. These goals may be perfectly fine, however, determining how our goals connect to what we truly desire is important. “Do I really want to look prettier for me?” “Why do I think money equals success?” Is it really a matter of looking prettier? What does success truly look like to me?
Ultimately, the truth of our goals come down to “I want to grow as a person,” “I want to be healthier,” “I want to be happier,” “I want to be more fulfilled,” “I want to experience more out of my life,” etc. These are things I want for myself because I want Goodness for my life. Because I love myself deeply and compassionately.
True desires of change
Once our true desires of change are solidified in our minds, the next step is to actually address the methods we use to make change, or to achieve our goals. Even the most heart felt, compassionate desires will fall flat if they are implemented using faulty tools. Like the saying “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions,” we can try and try as much as we like, but if we are using the wrong sets of tools, often achieving goals simply isn’t realistic. AND, the actual setting of goals is perhaps the most important tool of all.
After we know why we want, the next step is to map out how to get there. This is an important step, and involves realizing that whatever it is, it’s not going to happen overnight.
One of the most useful methods to approach achieving our goals is to set SMARTer goals.
SMART goals need to be Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Time-bound.
Specific – its very hard to simply be healthier, or eat better. Goals are more attainable when exactly what is expected is mapped out. Such as “eating 3 more servings of vegetables everyday” even better would be, “these vegetables are: zucchini, celery, and mushrooms. And I intend to make these meals. . .”
Measurable– goals are impossible to reach when we don’t know if we’ve reached them. An example of a non-measurable goal would be getting stronger in my body. To make this a measurable goal, we could say “I want to be able to do an entire yoga class without having to stop and take a breather,” or “I want to get six pack abs,” or “I want to eat double the vegetables I am currently eating.”
Acceptable– it’s hard to reach goals that we don’t really want to reach. If I don’t really want to lose weight, then it’s probably not a great goal. This hinges on “why am I doing this.” The fact of the matter is that any SMART goal needs to be OKAY with the person setting it!
Realistic – if a goal is unrealistic it will be unattainable and very frustrating; the end result is likely to be shame, guilt and self-criticism. If I don’t currently write very often, and my writing skills are questionable it’s probably NOT realistic that I set a goal of writing a full length novel this year – even though that goal may be specific, measurable, acceptable, and even time-bound. Perhaps a more realistic goal would be to journal 3 pages daily 3-5 days a week. Or to write a 25-page E-book.
Time-bound –when goals are not time bound they become fantasies, and fantasies rarely come true for people. If a goal is something that is truly important, put a timer on it, so that it pushes you to do it.
SMART method of goal setting
This method of goal setting makes goals more manageable and has been shown to help people achieve their goals. Another tip is to not make too many goals. Start slow, and allow the success of achieving goals fuel the motivation and inspiration for the next goal.
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review that has been in print since 2005 and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit and The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10 week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. Follow Razi on Facebook at Razi Berry and join us at Love is Medicine to explore the convergence of love and health.