There is no doubt that we live in a very goal-oriented culture. Words such as hustle and grind seem to be everywhere come January. Self-made entrepreneurs #hustle and fitness gurus #riseandgrind across our news feed throughout the first few weeks of the new year. We vow to workout more, make better smoothies and stop eating so many tacos. Some of us reset our Goodreads Reading Challenges and others vow to attend church every Sunday. Americans love to leap into the new year with unabashed vim and vigor. It's going to be our year!
As we enter 2021, however, we are still in the midst of a global pandemic. Although I typically love everyone's "new year, new me" mentality this time of year, this December, I can't help but wonder if the 2021 memes are true. What if 2020 really was just the trailer for 2021? I just don't think the stroke of the second hand at midnight is going to automatically change our fate (or our current COVID metrics for that matter). So, before we jump too heartily into the new year, we really should talk about goal-setting and our expectations in the midst of a global pandemic. New year, new me is good and well, but only if we don't put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to perfectly perform. Because newsflash: There is no perfection in a global pandemic.
So, how can we still be productive without inducing panic-stricken feelings of failure and burnout right out of the gate? Let's explore.
New year, new me is good and well, but only if we don't put unnecessary pressure on ourselves to perfectly perform.
Cutting Our expectations in Half
I know upon first glance this might seem extreme, especially if you're like me. How can I possibly cut my expectations in half? Do you even know me? As a person who thrives on achievement and checking things off her list, the thought of not accomplishing or even accomplishing less seems nothing short of devastating. How can that be? Is that something I can even do?
First, we have to understand that who we are has nothing to do with titles, or what we accomplish. God doesn't love us more by what we do. He already loves us as much as he possibly can because of who - and whose - we are. If you haven't checked in with your core values and beliefs in awhile, now would be a great time to do that. One of the best ways to get in tune with your innermost being is to identify how you want to be remembered by those who matter most. How do you want to be remembered by God? By your parents? By your spouse? By your children, colleagues and friends? Take a few moments to jot down your innermost sentiments. Your values and beliefs will become radically clear.
Second, we have to stop playing the comparison game. Your pace is your pace and your path is unlike any other. Let's get clear on that right now. When you are setting goals, you aren't setting them because your girlfriend has also committed to going to the gym three times a week, or because the other gal in your writing group grew her email subscription list by 255% last month (although, get it girl!). You are setting your goals because they are in alignment with who you are at your core. It might help to take a social media detox for 24 to 48 hours (48 is better, if possible) before creating your next set of goals. It's only when you become free of outside distractions that your own priorities start to crystalize in your mind.
Finally, it's time to make our list. What is it that you want to accomplish? What fulfills your innermost desires? Jot every single one of those things down. If you want to lose 10 pounds, eat more energy-infused foods or start an online course, write it down! If you want to volunteer once a month at a local food shelter or increase your participation in women's ministry at your church, put it on the list! Climb Machu Picchu, scale the Empire State Building, become a black belt in jiu jitsu? Write until you have a healthy list (whatever that means for you). And now, I want you to put the list away.
That's right. Now that you have purged what's on your mind and put pen to paper, I want you to spend some time away from those particular goals. I want you to take a detox, much like you did from social media above. Take a day, or maybe even two, and I want you to get really quiet and I want you to spend some time talking to God. Ask God how these goals align to your inner values and believes. Ask God how these goals align to His plans for your life. Ask God to help you get crystal clear on what's important to you. In essence, I am asking you to co-plan your next steps with God. He wants to be your pilot, and too often we leave our pilot entirely out of our plans.
Friends, that isn't how plans fly. Pun intended.
When you return to your list of goals, if you have spent the necessary time with God, one thing is going to stand out to you. You have too many goals for an average human, and you have too many goals for an average year. Add in a global pandemic, and we really need to cut away that which is not in true alignment with where we are going with God. I promise you that there are some goals that just don't need to be a focal point right now. This is where the liberation happens, friends. Cut away anything that detracts from your core values and beliefs. If everything is important, nothing is important.
If everything is important, nothing is important.
Next week, we will talk in a bit more depth about how to ensure that what we are measuring encompasses the aspects of our lives that need the most attention. Most of this we have already settled with God, but it never hurts to take another quick assessment of the work that remains to be done. I hope you will join me as we assess various aspects of our human well-being, including the following domains: spiritual, intellectual, social, emotional, vocational, avocational, marital, familial, and financial. As you might imagine, there is much work to be done!
Linger a Little Longer:
1. How have you been guilty of garnishing worth based on what you accomplish?
2. How do you typically feel about new year's goals and resolutions? Do you feel differently about them now?
3. What part of the aforementioned goal-setting process scares you the most? Why?