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  • Writer's pictureDr. Christine Senn, PhD

Re-Imagine Your Goals

Hello friends. Well, today we'regoing to talk about goals. And before you think I'mway off on my timeline because it's quite near the end of February at this point, I am not. I have two reasons for doing it in late February. The first is that, statistically speaking, if you had resolutions, you have probably stopped working on them at this point or will within the next five weeks (according to statistics-- I'm not calling you out on that). Most people actually stop, I think, by week three, so that's a rough one. The other reason is I actually don't do goals at the new year. I do the new goals at my birthday, so it's MY year and I can accomplish something in my given year.

The thing about goals for me is that they should never be a “should” statement, right? Because that is why people tend to quit them. If I should weigh a certain weight, or I should accomplish something, it's sometimes much harder for me to do it unless it's part of my job and that it's what I'm really working on. But you have to take your free time to accomplish your goal. Usually, you have to have a great deal of willpower. What I think, and it's also based on psych research, is that it's really satisfaction. Leading a satisfying life that makes us have more moments of happiness and joy. Because happiness and joy are fleeting, just like sadness and anger, we have to experience them all. But goals specifically can lead us to satisfaction by saying to ourselves, “what would I like my life to look like at the end of this year?” So, I just turned 50 at the end of my 50th year. What do I want my life to look like? What do I want to keep that I have now? And what do I have to do to keep those things? So, I have a very fulfilling marriage and I want to keep that. So of course, I have goals around maintaining date nights, maintaining great communication with my husband, etc. And then I also have goals for things that I have not yet accomplished, but I would love to.

I would love to be fluent at a B1 level by the end of the year in Spanish. I'm at like an A2... let's go with that (I just learned about these levels the other day-- kind of showing off that I know these-- and I could be wrong by the way, but anyway, I made it a SMART goal). So, I want that as a goal because it's not a should. I don't have to do this; it will not help me get promoted. It will not help me do anything that is a should statement. It would be for my own satisfaction, and because I would love to be able to have a conversation with someone in another language. I love talking to people and hearing about their own personal experiences, their own perspectives on life. And each culture has its own perspective on life. Spanish speakers are throughout so much of the world that that's a huge opportunity for me to experience other cultures, travel more places and actually have a conversation with people. So, you see for me, it's about connecting, which makes sense, right? I went to school to be a psychologist, so it makes sense that I want to connect. That's not necessarily everybody's.

My husband loves to teach. So, when I say something brings you joy, it's not necessarily at all selfish. What brings him joy is teaching. He loves to coach and to mentor, so that is something along his goals. So, what does he need to do in 2023 to increase the amount of time he spends mentoring? What does he have to give up to do that in terms of time elsewhere? Or what what group does he need to connect with? Who does he need to talk to to be sure he's coaching people who, you know, want his coaching? And so, those become goals that he can do throughout the year for this bigger goal of “what brings me joy.”

So, I encourage you to ask yourself what brings you joy and as you do, I would also say to consider the research does really show that people with the longest and the happiest lives tend to have had the closest social network. And I don't think that the culture in the United States at least has really fostered that. Truly, the idea of loving your friends, really experiencing love in your life, and having people you can rely on is a big one. So, all this stuff through COVID about socially distancing-- that was supposed to be physical distancing. We weren't really supposed to socially distance. You need your social networks. So, if you don't feel like you have enough friends, I would encourage you to consider, “how can I connect with other people?” and think about those aspects of your life, whether it's travel, teaching, or connecting with friends, that really could bring a joy to your life.

I hope you have the most marvelous 2023. I will still see you in three weeks, but I do hope you have the most marvelous '23. And I wish you very well in finding satisfaction in your life. Take care.

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