People basically have one problem (let’s pretend that’s true)… We prefer to be pretty much everywhere, except in the here and now. We dream (let’s call them goals), we chart out IF … THEN algorithms to our future. Or, still try to put one and one together about that decision we took a month ago. This pretty much keeps us from seeing the specific problems we have day to day. Well, not that much from seeing, but from doing something about them.
We oscillate between the illusions we create about our future lives, the foggy nature of our present reality which we always fail to see as is, making it better or worse depending on which realm of time we prefer to live on. Past oriented individuals see it always a bit worse than it is, future oriented individuals will look around, shrug and say “well, it’s not that bad!”. Why is this a problem? Because as long as we fail to get specific about our problems, we will equally fail to chart out a specific strategy to solve it.
So, before you start setting “new year, new me” goals, get specific about them. You want to spend less money? Cool. Less then what? Start counting! Check your bank account statement, make a budget, set it as a baseline and form your mantra: “in 2022 I will spend 50 euro less each month than in November 2021”. Suddenly, having a clear and measurable target will put things in perspective, and assuming the amount is realistic, you will suddenly find opportunities in your daily life where to tweak around to reach it.
Also make sure, that the goals you are setting are your own, and you are doing it because of your own belief. Because you believe that squander is a sin, because you believe you will enjoy a well deserved vacation from your savings, etc… Doing it to prove mom that you have finally become a responsible grownup, well… According to behavioural economics, it’s a slippery slope towards self-sabotage.
But what happens if we do slip? And we slip that pair of oh-so-gorgeous shoes into our bags, although we shouldn’t? First thing: don’t panic. This is the crossroad where all can go south, and you feel the need to start running to your past or future. You see two options: past you is saying you have tried this before but never worked, future you is inviting you to the lottery stand and dreams about winning, so you never have to set this goal ever again. Both wrong. Stay present, stay grounded, count your losses and still keep in focus the progress you made.
Our psychological wellbeing depends on an equilibrium we keep between the things that drain our energy and the ones that give us energy. So whenever you feel you are in a situation where you stumble, don’t stress on it. Balance it out with an activity, that is pleasurable and brings you closer to another goal.