Updated: Jun 29
Having goals is an important part of life. Goals give us something to work towards - whether that be funding a trip to Europe, sustaining good health, advancing our careers, or achieving financial success. Goals give our lives meaning... we can look forward to something in the future, while taking action in the present.
It took me about half a year to realize that when I was drinking, I wasn't taking my goals seriously. It's not that I didn't have goals, I just wasn't prioritizing them. I'm not even sure I was clear on how to fulfill the few goals I did have. In all honesty, I was staying stagnant. Sure, I was getting my masters degree, but I sure wasn't achieving my full potential in other areas of my life. It's hard to wake up and run three miles in the morning when you're dealing with a hangover. It's impossible to save $400 out of your paycheck for a vacation when your extra cash is spent on a bender. Even though I was still in school, my brain was completely off kilter, making it extremely hard to find motivation to study. It wasn't until I stopped drinking that I could exert all of my energy into achieving the life that I want.
In all honesty, I have to give some credit to my Dad. In January, he gets the whole family together and we talk about our goals for the upcoming year. For one, we start off with a goal for January that we want to do everyday. This year, I decided to practice my mindful mourning routine everyday. Some other goals in the family were to give up fast food or alcohol (you go girl!), or working out for ten minutes in the morning. My Dad's even offering a reward to whoever sticks with their goal for the full 31 days ($100 delta gift-card, I'm ready for you!!!).
Apart from the 30-day challenge, my family and I also created yearly goals for 2022. We established goals in four areas: health, personal, financial, and social. My goals are to run a ten mile race by the end of the year, enroll in therapy, fund a trip to Greece, and publish a blog post weekly. For the first time in my life, I'm in total alignment with my goals and it feels exhilarating. I'm signed up for a 5K in a two weeks; I had my first therapy session today; a chunk of each paycheck goes into my "Greece Fund"; and I've published a blog post weekly since the beginning of the year! It may not seem like much, but there is as much joy to be found working towards your goals as there is in achieving them.
There are a few things I've realized about setting goals: there is a right way to do it and there's the other way, where you end up giving up after two weeks. Here's what I've learned...
Make goals that excite you. If you don't get absolutely thrilled when thinking about a goal you'd like to achieve, chances are that you won't have the motivation to get there. Try journaling if you're having a hard time thinking of what goals you'd like to set, and ask yourself what your ideal life would look like. What would you have to do to get there? When you've identified some goals you'd like to pursue...
Use the SMART model (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound). Instead of having a goal to reduce belly fat, dedicate fifteen minutes out of your morning to cardio for x-months. Instead of making a goal to pay off all your loans, make it specific and measurable, and dedicate 1/3 of your paycheck to paying off debt. Or, calculate the amount you'd need to pay monthly to have them paid off in x-amount of years, and commit to that number. The more realistic and precise the goal, the better.
Next, figure out smaller action steps that you can take that will get you to your goal. For example, to fund a trip to Greece, I had to first calculate how much I would need to save in eight months. From there on out, I determined the amount of each paycheck I would need to save, and I set up automatic payments directed to my savings account. Every big goal can be divided up into smaller tasks that will bring you to the final destination. Think of the Compound effect: your everyday actions add up in the long run.
And lastly, now that you have your goal, have fun with it. Create a vision board to get excited! Create a countdown for your vacation, or put up post-it notes around your house to remind yourself of what you're working towards. Don't forget to celebrate the small wins, because ultimately, they matter just as much as the big wins! It's also important to be gentle with yourself - sometimes things happen, and that's okay. I've developed what's called "runners knee," and have had to take time off from my running schedule to heal. In the meantime, I've been doing at home cardio and HIIT workouts. You're only human, and you deserve to give yourself some credit. Don't be discouraged when you don't see outcomes right away. Remember, goal setting is a marathon, not a race - learn to enjoy the scenery along the way. I promise, you'll learn something about yourself. If you'd like extra resources, I've found goal-tracking journals to be a fun way to keep track of your progress! I've linked my favorite here: Inspirational Habit Tracking Journal with Spiral Binding.
End note: By all means, I'm not here to say that you need to give up drinking in order to make and achieve goals for yourself. Ultimately, I found that in my own life, I could not manage my drinking while effectively working towards my goals. Everybody's different. However, I have found that I am finally working towards my full potential, and giving up alcohol played a major role in that deliverance.