With the end of the year just days away, it's inevitable that many of us are looking ahead and hoping that we're better versions of ourselves next year than we were in this one. We want our successes to be be bigger, our failures to be smaller, and all our effort to amount to something meaningful. But before you set out to draft a list of resolutions to get you there, consider that some of your ideas about goal setting might need to be revamped. Here are five myths to watch out for as you prepare for your best year yet.
1. Myth: Prepare yourself first.
Truth: Start where you are. Preparation is overrated. "Ready" is elusive. As author Jon Acuff says, "Ready is a myth and fear is a liar. Just start." Too often, we use the tasks of preparation as a stall tactic. We convince ourselves that if we research the best training programs, have one more big night out, make more lists and develop a better plan, that we'll be more likely to succeed. During all that preparing, though, we're just wasting time. It will never not feel intimidating to start, no matter how "prepared" you are. Start now.
2. Myth: Gather the best tools for the job.
Truth: Use what you have. There is no place in goal-setting for "If only I had______." A new activity tracker or cute workout gear might seem like an enticing form of motivation, and they might work . . . for a week or so. But the shine will wear off. The idea that "If I only had [fill in the blank], I'd be guaranteed to succeed" is appealing for two reasons. It offers a consolation for any past failures ("I just didn't have the right gear!"). And, seconldy, it takes the focus off what matters most: you. New gear is hardly ever the answer. You already possess the most important components for success. Dig deep into your desire. Practice perseverance. Summon your support system. You have yourself, and you are enough for this.
3. Myth: Reach for the stars.
Truth: Do what you can. Admire the stars, but don't necessarily reach for them. Reach for what's just beyond your grasp. Challenge yourself, but set yourself up for success. If you're new to running this year, perhaps a marathon is not the best New Year's resolution. What feels close enough that it makes you a little nervous? That thing that you keep wondering about, but you've been a little too nervous to commit to just yet. Your first 10K race? A 5K in under 30 minutes? Don't focus so much on the marathon that you might run one day, focus on what's next. Just do the next thing.
4. Myth: Treat it like a job.
Truth: Do it with love. Your workout routine should not feel like punishment. Meaningful relationships take work, and the relationship we have with our body is no different. When we approach it from a place of gratitude for all that our bodies have done for us and all they allow us to experience, taking care of ourselves is truly an act of self-love. Find an activity that you enjoy, and consider your time spent doing it as a love letter that you're writing to yourself.
5. Myth: Failure is not an option.
Truth: Keep starting. Sociologist and author Brené Brown writes, "If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall." The road to achieving any goal worth working towards is paved with a multitude of tiny little "failures" that tempt us to doubt ourselves and throw in the towel altogether. Don't beat yourself up over one missed workout or one splurge meal. Put it behind you. Start again. Start fresh. Momentum takes time. Start again every day if you have to. Some amount of failure is inevitable — the trick is simply to not let it be the last word. Just let your number of starts always be one more than the number of failures.
Start where you are, use what you have, do what you can, do it with love, and keep starting. You've got this.