Wow! What a year 2021 has been! I feel like this year flew by and I can hardly believe we are ready to start a new year. While a lot of things have transpired this year, I still find myself thinking, “but, I didn’t do… or I didn’t accomplish…”

More often than not I sell myself short. Instead of embracing what I have accomplished or celebrating the good, I overwhelm myself with my shortcomings. Instead of giving myself grace and extending the things I want to accomplish into the next year, I just cut them off completely and never revisit them.

But, is that truly the way to be? When something doesn’t go according to plan, just cut it off and dismiss it entirely?

Part of me is screaming, “absolutely not! Life has no specific timelines for anything. You are the only one creating the failures, the deadlines and the shortcomings.” The other part of me is saying, “if it was supposed to happen, it would have happened.”

While neither mindset is entirely wrong or perfectly correct, there is something to consider with the former.

Goal setting is a multi-layered concept. I think of it kind of like an onion. You know, the thinnest layers create a large (yes, I know not all are large) onion. The thin layers are the steps necessary to make the goal achievable.

Before I go any further, I will acknowledge that sometimes things happen and detours have to be taken, or the goal has to be shifted.

Creating a goal and attempting to achieve it without implementing small steps and a plan will inevitably allow for failure.

For example, the goal is to lose 50 pounds in eight months. Day one: you make it to the gym, accomplish an incredibly difficult workout and only eat fruits and veggies all day. In theory, anyone could carry on with this pattern for a significant length of time. In reality though, those really hard workouts cause incredibly sore muscles and restricting your diet leaves you starving at bedtime. Because you are sore you begin to miss days at the gym, the motivation continues to decline because, let’s be honest, sore muscles are no fun. Because you are starving by bedtime you start binge snacking on anything and everything within your reach. Suddenly, you are on month seven with nothing to show for it except a yo-yo of eating and exercising.

Approaching this goal with care intention and multiple steps changes the outcome immensely. Approaching it with small incremental changes allow for your body and mind to adjust and to actually feel the gradual positive changes.

Before even considering a gym or an exercise plan examining what goes into your body is important. Slowly eliminating pop or the excessive sugary coffee beverages from your diet will give quick results. Water is key to any weight loss approach. Once you begin adding a glass or bottle of water instead of a pop or coffee beverage your body will become more reliant on water.

Instead of restricting your diet entirely to just proteins, fruits and vegetables, try replacing just one meal or snack at a time with those healthy options. Your mind is able to adjust to the change and you don’t feel restricted, which creates the, “I’ll just cheat this one time,” mentality.

These little incremental changes, like the thin layers of an onion, build up and over time give you the ability to achieve your goals.

As I write this I am also thinking to myself, “don’t you think you should practice what you preach?”

The good news is - I am taking my own words of wisdom and putting them into action. I am working to achieve some goals I do have, however, there are quite a few areas where I am falling short. I am determined to apply my onion layer theory to those areas in the new year.

If we approach the big issues and year with small incremental changes, imagine how much we can really achieve. Shifting the mindset of creating deadlines for every goal to just allowing ourselves the opportunity to grow, learn and develop while working on the goal may also have a huge difference on the outcome.

Out with the old and in with the new! I wish you all a very Happy New Year!