It’s easy to become particularly critical of yourself at the beginning of the year. Focusing on what needs to change in your life, what went wrong last year and where you want to be in the future. And there’s nothing wrong with creating new goals and learning from your mistakes - as long as it’s constructive.
After watching everyone rallying around all January eating healthy, hitting the gym, and cutting out booze, it might have seemed as though everyone was suddenly achieving the impossible. And people love to share their achievements (even if they might only continue with their life overhaul for the first few weeks of the year…) meaning social media can become more stressful than ever.
In winter when the sky largely remains grey and there’s the most hours of darkness, staying positive can definitely be a challenge. But if there’s one thing that can make your life that little bit easier (without having to initiate a social media blackout) it’s learning how to stop comparing yourself to others and focus on your own progress.
Too much time spent worrying about how your life matches up to your peers can often result in feeling inadequate. This is because the times we are down the most, we tend to focus on the negative aspects of our situation against the positives of others. Why am I not as far in my career as they are? Why don’t I have as much money as they do? Why are they in a relationship and I’m not?
But where is that going to get you? Apart from in a panic.
Although it’s easier said than done, it’s a far more rewarding use of energy to give yourself manageable goals to work towards. To think about what you actually want and how to get it.
Making achievable goals…
Adding a measurable aspect can help you to maintain your goals - the less abstract the better. This way it’s easy to see the progress you’re making. Having goals like ‘Do better at work’ or ‘Be more social’ are harder to measure progress with and can end up being more frustrating than helpful.
Here are some examples of mine for 2019. I’ve given myself time-specific goals that are based around reducing my anxiety and increasing my creativity…
I’ve banned mid-week drinking and I’m scheduling sober weekends.
2. Write more
Complete one piece of writing a week, even if it’s just for myself.
3. Go back to German classes
Be back in German class by the end of March.
4. Go to one exhibition a month
Get monthly inspiration and keep learning.
I can already see the positive effects of 1 and 2 on my productivity and anxiety levels. And every week I complete a piece of writing, I feel like I’ve taken another step towards my long term goal of being a successful freelance writer.
Making goals for yourself doesn’t have to happen once a year. They can help you at any time to refocus your energy.
So next time you feel like everyone is moving forward and you’re not, take a time out, think about what matters to you the most and remember to take care of your needs. It doesn’t matter what everyone else is doing. You are the most important person in your life.