Don’t Set New Year’s Resolution, Set Courageous Goals Instead

As the new year approaches, many of us are thinking about the new year’s resolutions. While I am not one of the “resolution” people, I am definitely a “goals” person. I set 3 goals each year for myself that I want to achieve. 3 is a good number. It is not overwhelming neither is it forgettable.

In addition to the magic of number 3, I followed a specific method of setting goals last year. It has really helped me prioritize my wishes, and keep on track to achieving those.

But while working on these goals, I have realized probably the most important factor that kept me motivated through the year. With 25% of Americans who make resolutions give those up even before the first week of January is over, I am sure you would want to know what kept me going from the beginning of this year to almost the end now. I am going to share it with you today.

Set courageous goals!

That’s it! It cannot get any simpler than this.

What do I mean by “Courageous”?

The dictionary defines courageous as follows:

Not deterred by danger or pain; Brave.

The definition intrinsically means you may feel some discomfort, and also doubt about achieving these goals. These are the goals that you at first feel are beyond your capability. These are the goals that many people around you feel are outrageous or even impossible. But that is precisely what makes them courageous.

Now let’s see how they will keep you motivated throughout the year.

1. You will strive harder.

If you are one of those people who gets scared and eventually discouraged by lofty goals, let me tell you right away that courageous does not mean guaranteed impossible. It just means a little more than what you think you can achieve. So first think like you usually do. What seems reasonable? Then stretch it a bit more, and you have your courageous goal.

This goal may seem hard to achieve but I assure you, it will make you work harder than you otherwise would.

When you set a goal that you feel comfortable with, you tend to take it lightly. You may feel overconfident. And before you know, the end of the year will be here and you will still be 75% away from what you set to achieve.

Take it from me. I have miserably failed at my goal of achieving a certain milestone on Twitter for the last two years because I was just not diligent about it. I kept on thinking it is a piece of cake, and I can still get it done even in November. Clearly, that did not happen.

On the other hand a goal which is slightly out of your comfort zone will keep you on your toes. Such stress, nervousness, anxiety will work in your favor. You will start working more towards it early on in the year instead of procrastinating it. Try it! I did it with my blog and have achieved more than I though I could.

That leads me to my next point.

2. You will achieve more.

How many times you achieved a goal, and then felt like I want to achieve more starting RIGHT NOW? Us common folks almost always tend to take time off after success to celebrate or to catch a breath, and rightfully so.

That is why goals within your comfort zone are achieved early and then forgotten in the best case or their success is taken for granted until the deadline in the worst case. In neither case, you are reaching your full potential. Even in the best case scenario, you are leaving something on the table.

Now what happens when you set a courageous goal? It will probably take you all the time which you set as your deadline. You would not leave any time underutilized which in turn will help you get more even if you do not meet your goal 100%.

So aim for the stars and you will at least get to the moon. Even if you did not get what you set out for, you would have come much further than what you would otherwise.

3. You will learn more.

Challenging your limits provides you many life skills. In addition to learning more about your area of interest, you will also learn how to handle stress effectively. You will master working under pressure of your own expectations. You will know what it means to keep going even when others do not believe in you.

All these are not innate characteristics you are born with. These are the skills you develop. While you can learn these the hard way by making mistakes, wouldn’t it be better if you start learning these right away, and actually be prepared when the time calls for it?

4. You can really put your passion to test.

This is a really good litmus test for your passion, and a surprising one, too. At least, I never thought of it that way before this year.

If a courageous goal you set is not something you are meant to do, the journey will be more treacherous than enjoyable. You will feel like you are making yourself work towards it. You will have to consciously push yourself to keep going rather than the work pulling you towards it.

Alternatively, if a courageous goal is really about what you are meant to do, you will feel a certain pull in making it happen. You will love the hard work involved. Why? Because you will enjoy every minute of it. You will accept all of its aspects – the good, the bad, and the ugly. All of the above benefits will come so easily to you that you will not even stop to notice if you are pushing yourself more, achieving more, and learning more. You will be content in just doing it. That’s the kind of flow you are looking for while deciding what you are meant to do.

Many people have asked me before, “How do I find out what I am meant to do in life?” There may diverse paths to this discovery, many of which I don’t know. But one of them I know for sure, is to set a courageous goal and see if it pulls you towards it or you push yourself towards it.

I hope in the upcoming year, you set the goals that you love, make them courageous than comfortable, and in the process discover more of what you are born to do!

©2014-2015 Manasi Kakade
Thanks to Varun Kakde for the featured image.

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