We are well into the New Year, which means our goals we set on January 1st may have fell by the wayside. Even though it’s so easy to set a goal, it can be much more of an endeavor to see it through. Trust me, I know. Three days after New Years, I swirled around and around in brand new booties, admiring their glossy leather in the department store mirror from every possible angle. Admittedly, anyone who knows me wouldn’t argue with my following confession: I am hopelessly in love with shoes and chocolate -though my savings account and fitness goals don’t quite share the sentiment. As I approached the sales clerk to pay, I attempted to formulate some excuse that would justify breaking my 2nd New Years’ resolution just three days after writing it. It’s just one more pair, I consoled myself as my conscience reminded me that my shoe cabinet DOESN’T need an extra pair of heels yet my bank account sure needs the extra hundred.
When the New Year rolls around, most of us take the opportunity to reflect on our bad habits and draw on the self-discipline within ourselves to change them for the better. If we know our habits are harming us though, why are they so hard to shake?
My best friend put it simply –bad habits feel good. She had one of her own- a 6 foot 3 redheaded lawyer whom she’d been dating for the past 3 years. Though she admitted that the relationship was unfulfilling she had clung to it for so long to avoid the potential loneliness of single life.
You see, bad habits come in all shapes and sizes- food, clothes, or even guys. In the moment, our habit doesn’t seem to live up to its “bad” reputation- it brings us that immediate reward we are looking for, whether we feel lonely or have a sweet tooth. But I have found that this gratification doesn’t last long –it fades quickly and is followed by a wave of regret that sure makes our guilty pleasure lose its appeal. Still, we find ourselves coming back for more in an attempt to prolong the oh-so-short feelings of satisfaction, forgetting why the regret was even there in the first place.
So, why do we prioritize our momentary enjoyment over our overall wellbeing? Are the small blips of pleasure really worth losing out on our larger goals?
I found that reshaping how I think of my bad habits has been extremely helpful. Instead of viewing them as little blips of joy, I view them as steps away from a much larger happiness. Every extra day in a bad relationship is one step further from the perfect one. Though the reward may not be immediate, it is important to stay focused on our goals and dreams, drawing fulfillment from every decision that enables us to move closer to attaining them.
5 ways to help stay goal-oriented this year:
- Read an empowering book.
There is nothing more motivational than reading about others’ success stories and the stories of how they got there. If they reached their goals –of course you can too!
- Write in a journal.
Keeping track of the decisions you are proud of is extremely empowering. Taking a second every day to write down 1 step you took towards reaching your goal is written proof of your progress!
- Take some time alone.
Life is hectic. We often get caught up in the daily busyness and forget to just breathe and focus and remember our goals. It’s important to take a few minutes a day to just relax and reorient ourselves.
- Find a not-so-guilty pleasure
Try to replace your bad habit with something pleasurable and beneficial.
- Take a road trip!
As the lovely Lorelai of Gilmore Girls taught us, literally moving forward sometimes helps to propel us on the path to progress. Certain locations often inundate us with the memories that make letting go (of a relationship, habit, or an addiction) so difficult. Traveling miles in a car gives the conscious impression of productive movement away from these places and bad choices and towards a clean slate and more focused future.