Tips for Reaching Your Goals (with insight from philosophy!)

The other day I took an assessment for a job. It included behavioral and personality traits. By far, my highest score was for being goal oriented.

As we approach 2023, many people will make New Years resolutions.

I don’t make resolutions. I make yearly goals. This year, I was able to accomplish quite a few of them.

If you have a problem setting and reaching goals, here’s some of my tips:

1. Don’t beat yourself up if you fall behind, slip up or fail to meet your goal. Don’t ever beat yourself up in general. You don’t deserve that. Life happens. Luck happens. Fate happens.

2. Be flexible. I studied ethics in grad school and learned about using judgement and reason in context rather than sticking to hard and fast rules. Rules can be fine sometimes, but more often it’s important to be “Simper Gumby”—always flexible.

3. Break your goal down. If I set a goal to reach by the end of the year, I try to take small steps toward it daily or weekly. For example, I had a goal to eat healthier this year. I started with a healthier breakfast that I took a picture of and posted to my family on Facebook every day. One meal at a time, I saw measurable improvements on my health.

4. Reward yourself for reaching mini goals. Often, a large goal will have smaller goals inside it. For instance, I take medications and used to hate taking them. But I know taking them is good for my health. So, I rewarded myself monthly for taking my medications and now that I have taken them all year, I will reward myself for reaching that larger goal.

5. Don’t look at your goal or the journey as a punishment. It’s so important to try to be generally positive about your goal. Often, this means setting a worthwhile goal. Not every goal is worth it.

6. Be forgiving. Don’t demand perfection from yourself about your goal. Perfection, as my thesis advisor once smartly told me, is the enemy of the good.

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