What it really looks like when you’re pursuing your goals

This time of year, newsstands are filled to the brim with “before and after” pictures, reminding us that fitter, more energetic versions of ourselves are only a few months of work away. Let us let you in on a little secret: there’s really no such thing as “before and after.”

This isn’t just true for health and wellness. It’s true for all kinds of goals - work and career, relationships, travel and even your goals around stress reduction and self care.

While milestones and benchmarks are important, the idea of how we think things will be “after” we achieve our goals can derail our success and even our efforts in getting started. Instead of focusing on the results of your work, here's a little bit more about what successfully pursuing your goals looks like while you’re in progress. Sometimes it feels exciting! Other times, it feels like a struggle. It’s all part of the process and understanding that will help you stay committed over the long run.

It looks like like a fresh start

Isn’t that the best part, really? A new goal is a clean slate. It’s an opportunity to let go of your previous efforts and focus on what you want to accomplish now.

A fresh start might feel easy and fun. Maybe you begin by doing some research or upgrading your gym shoes or purchasing a new planner.  But it’s also normal to feel a little overwhelmed by a fresh start. 

Do you know what your first steps should be? 

  • You might consider brainstorming daily, weekly and monthly actions that can help facilitate your goal or vision. 
  • onsider sharing your goals with friends and colleagues for extra accountability.
  • Are there people in your social circle also setting ambitious goals? Get together for a chat and see if you can provide on-going support for one another.
(c) 31 Productions

(c) 31 Productions

It looks like new habits

Depending on the nature of your goals, you might find yourself in need of some brand new habits. Instead of thinking of your goal as an end point, it might be helpful to think about what a your process needs to look like for a successful outcome.

I like to set aside time each week to plan out my schedule and make sure my week aligns with my goals. It means I need to set aside time to prepare healthy meals in advance, make sure gym clothes are ready to go, that I have time write and follow up with clients, and check in on my personal budget. 

Your schedule is not going to align perfectly all of the time (more on that in a minute), but setting aside time to ask what you need to get done each week can help set yourself up for success. 

It looks like competing priorities

There’s a reason that the gym is packed in January and practically empty in March. Life is almost certainly going to throw some curve balls your way and you might feel like you lose focus on your 2017 goals. That’s okay.

If your life starts to shift and you need to honor other priorities, give yourself permission to do that. It’s much easier to consciously give yourself permission to step away or step back. You can even choose a day in the future when you plan to fully re-commit. Go ahead and write that day down in your calendar!

Beating yourself up for getting pulled away isn’t going to be helpful. If you’re worried you won’t be able to get back on track, ask a friend to check in with you in a few weeks.

(c)   31 Productions

(c) 31 Productions

It looks like starting over

My clients frequently report that that they “fall off track” and have to start over again from scratch. If your vision of goal setting is linear, it certainly makes sense that you might feel that way, but if your understanding of goal-setting is about pursuing your goals and understanding that your lifestyle and vision will evolve over time, then there’s no such things as starting over. You’re re-committing yourself. And you’ll have a little bit more experience to help you lead the way.

If you find yourself feeling disappointed by your last attempts, consider evaluating why your efforts didn’t result in the outcome you were looking for. 

  • Did you not give yourself enough time?
  • Was it hard to shift into new habits?
  • What got in your way? 

Answering these questions can help you feel more prepared this time around! You already know that there will be challenges to meeting your 2017 goals, but here’s the thing: we can do hard things! 

And hard things will feel easier if we can plan ahead, anticipate speed bumps and be flexible and creative when it comes to taking on the obstacles.

Jenn Walker Wall writes a monthly career advice column for JUGS and is the founder of Work Wonders Coaching + Consulting. You can follow her on Twitter: @JennWalkerWall