It’s that time again for making New Years Resolutions and Goal setting. For many of us the Coronavirus pandemic put a huge damper on this. After all, during the past 24 months of COVID so much has changed, especially when it comes to what we can control. Keeping resolutions and achieving goals is all about control… or is it?
Don’t you dream of the time when you could make plans to attend a gathering, be at a work conference, a family reunion or a best friend’s wedding? What about plans to travel abroad to that exotic bucket list place, or even across country to visit grandparents?
A Different Look at New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting
Around the world, New Years Resolutions and Goals set at the start of 2020 and then again in 2021, fell by the wayside as the pandemic sent us into isolation. Although the fear of being infected with the Coronavirus, and the stringent social distancing and stay-at-home regulations, can be blamed for some of our achievement failures… there is something else that lies at the very root of our inability to realize hopes and dreams.
In his book, “Atomic Habits,” James Clear suggests our failure stems from misaligned focus. Traditionally New Years Resolutions and Goal Setting focuses on what we want ‘to achieve’. Well, duh? Isn’t that how it works? According to Clear, if we truly wish to be successful, our focus needs to be on what we wish ‘to become’.
Let’s take a quick, simplistic look at the difference.
To Achieve vs. To Become
To Achieve: When I’m focused on what I want to achieve it looks something like this… “Attract 100 new recurring donors by December 31st”.
To Become: When I’m focused on what I want to become it looks something like this… “I am a good fund raiser”.
Clear saw how Identity and Habits are closely tied together. If I believe I’m a good fund raiser then I will determine what a good fund raiser does, behaves like, and what daily habits I need to embrace. Whereas, if I simply have a goal to attract more recurring donors my focus will be on necessary tasks, most of which I probably don’t like to do… so, you guessed it, within short order they’ll be abandoned. In contrast, if my identity is at stake I’ve got skin in the game and I’m more likely to stick with it.
A friend (like many of you) started working from home during the pandemic. At first it seemed great to have the flexibility and freedom. Then a year into it she noticed that her once slim and active body was getting increasingly tubby and out of shape. She got pretty depressed until she realized what was happening. Working from home didn’t require daily showers, changing out of her PJs, or eating at normal mealtimes. Subconsciously, over time, she starting seeing herself as a disheveled and fat stay-at-home-office-worker. Some people call it self fulfilling prophesy.
Now she could have set goals to workout every morning and only allow herself into the kitchen at certain times. She did try this, however, it wasn’t until she read Clear’s book that she focused on changing her identity. Instead of seeing herself as a disheveled and fat stay-at-home-office-worker, she began looking at herself as an athlete (which she had been years before.) An athlete takes care of her body. Although her planned workouts didn’t change much, how she them approached did. And that shift, from merely setting goals to how she viewed herself, made all the difference as far as sustainability goes. Sustaining good habits ultimately leads to desired success.
What does 2022 have in store?
As we march, stroll, stumble or fall into 2022 what is your Identity? How do you see yourself? In a very broad sense are you a Giver or a Taker? Do you see yourself as a person who makes a difference? Remember the story of the widow’s mite in the Bible? A very poor woman and a rich man dropped their offerings into the box at the temple in ancient Israel. The former’s offering were very small, while the latter’s generous. However, the Master put it in perspective. The woman had given far more out of her meager means. Her identity must have been that of a Giver. Nobody would have faulted her for not dropping a mite into the box. However, she gave, no matter how little she had. The widow was clear about her Identity and acted accordingly.
This story highlights the importance of not comparing ourselves with others. Life is about reaching personally higher, bettering ourselves, challenging ourselves and experiencing the joy good habits bring.
As we embark on 2022, who knows what it will hold for us. But one thing is sure, we do control how we see ourselves, who we believe we are and who we want to become.
Be Brave. Only Believe. Just Do.