By: Saije Rusimovici, Staff Writer
What are your goals? At the beginning of a new year, it’s difficult not to succumb to the pressures of maximizing your success in the coming year. Our Instagram feeds become flooded with overly positive content coaching us on how to make 2023 the best year yet, Tiktok videos reveal “ultimate guides to goal setting,” and wellness blogs promote the “2023 reset” for health and fitness. Social media sets us up to compete with each other, and also with ourselves. What begins as an intentional effort to make positive changes ends up being a short-lived attempt at improving our lives.
This year will be different. We tell ourselves a version of this every year. But what really stops us from achieving our goals? After coming up with an idea of what we think will make us happy, we often overcompensate by setting goals inspired by an unachievable standard. We should not shape our goals to reflect what society makes us think we need to be happier. Instead, at the start of a new year, we should re-examine our values and base our resolutions around the things in our lives that already bring us contentment.
This year, instead of setting formal goals, I have compiled a list of twenty-four things I hope to do before 2024 based on values like kindness, adventure, and community in mind. In addition to professional, academic, and financial goals, this list includes trips I would like to go on, restaurants I would like to try, movies I’d like to see, and other activities I hope to do in the upcoming year. Some of these items include: take a road trip to Seattle, pay off my car, join a recreational sports league, eat at an Indian restaurant, participate in a writer’s contest, and visit a part of BC I’ve never been to. The purpose of this bucket-list style format is to eliminate the pressure I have the tendency to put on myself when setting goals. It is not only a reflection of the things I want to achieve, but the values I want my year to be based around.
Be intentional. Reflecting on my resolutions going into 2022, I noticed that the things I accomplished were the smaller, almost vague goals I knew I had motivation to achieve but was not so sure how I would execute. I knew that I wanted to make money as a writer, but I didn’t specify a timeline or outline how I would do this. Instead, I specified the publication I wanted to write for and took proactive steps to achieve this — attending meetings, finding things I was interested in writing about, and then cultivating my writing skills with the help of my editors while working freelance. Now a staff writer, I have turned a long-sought-after dream into a reality.
Other people’s goals are not your goals. A good goal is not determined by someone else’s definition of what a new year’s resolution should be. As individuals, we each have different ways of integrating the things we care about into our lives. Your goals should strengthen your attributes, allow you to improve on things that mean something to you, and pertain to the kind of lifestyle you want to live. It shouldn’t be according to what you think you should do because someone else has become successful doing it too.
Goals should have value. We each have our own set of values that are unique to us. These values that we want to carry in our everyday lives should be integrated into our goals. Former Forbes contributor, Dawn Graham, discusses how many of our goals often begin as “shoulds” as a response to societal pressure. By refocusing on our values, we can develop goals that are both purposeful and attainable.
Goals should be fun. Not every goal you have needs to be extreme, nor measured by the unrealistic expectations we put on ourselves to make ourselves happy. Attempting to do things that are too complicated or unfeasible to complete in a year’s time does not make sustainable goals. When it comes to healthy habits, work-life balance, academic achievements, and strengthening relationships, it can take more time to make effective changes. Lighten up your goal-setting by including activities and challenges that will not only contribute to your success, but your own personal happiness (these can range from finding a new job to taking a road trip!).
It is also important to consider the things that could happen this year that you didn’t plan for or anticipate. There is no way to be prepared for everything. So, instead of planning every detail, and setting yourself up to climb the highest mountain, go through 2023 enjoying the scenery. In taking the time to notice things throughout your journey, you never know what you might find or what might find you.