Thought of the Day: Setting goals for success

Hi Everyone,

I am incredibly excited that I am back writing on my blog! I must apologise for the radio silence for the WHOLE of 2020, but let us be honest, it was a very trying year and no one wants to go back to that.

A few things have changed since 2019, I moved into a new home with my boyfriend and I am working in a new job in the same industry but different sector. It is still finance related but with a focus on social impact. Upon reflection, I realised that last year I focused on surviving day to day. The new job was extremely busy, and I failed to find the right work life balance. I had to quickly acclimatise to remote working which I had not previously done much of. On top of that, with the pandemic, not being able travel, and not to see my loved ones took a toll on my mental health. I developed very unhealthy shopping habits because I was bored and unhappy. Any downtime I had was either to watch Netflix or flick through Instagram and find an excuse to buy something, so I had the hit of endorphin when a parcel arrived. I also developed unhealthy eating habits because I hardly cooked before, being forced to eat my mediocre cooking was depressing, so at the first half of 2020 there was a lot of takeout and ordering fast food as there is a KFC just down the road from me now.

It took time to turn things around and finally I have learnt to cook (-ish!) and working on developing healthier habits. The one positive from last year was that with the time I did have, I tried to read. This was meditative and kept me grounded. I look back at 2020 feeling that it was a lost year because I had not set out goals, so I am determined to not let 2021 be the same. My thinking is that being in the third UK lockdown being stuck at home does not mean you cannot achieve your goals and be successful.

This is what I want to write about today, I want you to be able to walk away with three key messages to ensure that you are setting yourself up for success.

  1. You can set goals whenever you want
  2. Your goals should be grounded and based on the present you – not the future you
  3. Using a hierarchy of needs framework to set goals that will help you succeed.

You can set goals whenever you want

I know what you are thinking – why is this girl talking about setting goals in 2021 when we have reached the end of January already. Admittedly, it has taken some time to sort my s**t out. MORE IMPORTANTLY, there is no rule that you have to set goals on the 1st January! You can set goals whenever you want. I do not believe in “New Year, New Me” because the current “you” is great. However, living life is about direction and hope, therefore setting goals is important.

There is no such thing as a future you

I am a big fan of Elizabeth Day and her book How to Fail. In her latest book “Failosophy” she talks about how there is no such thing as a future you. This idea is that we change and grow all the time, therefore, we are setting ourselves for failure, particularly long-term goals such as five-year plans. She argues that setting this type of goals is a source of unhappiness because our future self is optimistic and would have overblown expectations. When we fail to meet them, we become disappointed and sad. I understand her premise, but I partially disagree.

I love a five-year plan; I think they are great because it is important to understand the direction of travel you want for yourself. For example, if you want to save for a deposit for a home, you need a five-year plan because for most of us we cannot drop tens of thousands of pounds in one go. I want to be wealthy, but my unsustainable shopping habits is not going to get me there, therefore, I need to set five year saving goals to take advantage of “compounding interest”. Therefore, we need to look forward to the future and make changes today.

What is critically important is to have realistic expectations of ourselves when setting goals. Elizabeth Day makes this very clear in her book and which I agree with. We should set kinder objectives that are grounded in knowing yourself. Do not set your goal to run a marathon, if that is not your style, why don’t you commit yourself for going on a jog and build up from there? In my case, I absolutely HATE running, I would never do it unless someone forced me to; that is not sustainable so there is no point in setting such a goal. However, I recognise that moving and keeping fit is important for my body, so I have committed to skip and workout instead because this is more realistic for me.

The key takeaway is to be honest with yourself. Pay attention to the present you rather than the future you. I love forward planning and goals, but they must be grounded on actions that can contribute something practical towards future growth now.

The Framework

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs is a motivational theory in psychology that is often depicted as a five-stage pyramid; where the lower tiers (foundations) must be satisfied before individuals can attend the needs on the higher tiers. The first four levels are referred to as deficiency needs and the top tier is known as growth needs or being needs. Using this concept of tackling foundations before the needs above I have found it useful guide to set my goals.

Basic Needs

Beginning with the first two tiers, the basic needs, in Maslow’s pyramid it considers one’s safety needs and psychological needs. I wish for all my readers to have a comfortable life where you do not need to worry about your basic needs. If this is something you have to consider then most importantly, please protect your time so that you can build the right foundation for you. Be selfish and identify what you need and seek out others to help build your strong foundation.

I know that I am in privileged position where I have wonderful and safe home so is not in the forefront of my mind. Therefore, I consider my basic needs as needing a healthy body and mind to be the foundation where I can build and achieve more. The one thing that the pandemic has taught me is that I cannot take my body for granted. Thus, my goal is to continue making more healthy eating choices (like eating more vegetables) and develop healthy physical habits such as working out more often or go for a walk. For my mental health, I want to listen to my mind and recognise my stress triggers, so I know when to walk away and recover, whether by reading, taking a break from my desk or a short nap!

Psychological needs

The next two tiers in Maslow’s pyramid relate to psychological needs, these include belongingness, love needs and esteem needs. Belonging and love needs covers intimate relationships and friends. It is important to recognise what relationships work well for you, whether professionally or personally. Who is your cheerleader that will take you to the next level? Who do you love to talk to and feel listened to? Remember any type of relationship/friendship is a two-way street, if that relationship gives you a lot, you also need to give back.

Thankfully, living with my boyfriend means that I do not have to go very far for an intimate relationship. Despite this, I know that I have been missing my friends a lot and engaging with my readers. Therefore, this year’s goal I want to make more effort in giving my time to listen to my loved ones and engage with others to provide the mental stimulation I seek.

Esteem needs relate to prestige and a feeling of accomplishment. The key question to ask yourself here is what makes you feel awesome? What do you do that you think is totally bad ass? What passions, hobbies, activities that light the fire in your belly to do more? I am a very goal orientated person and I struggle when I feel stuck in a “limbo”. This was probably why 2020 was so difficult as I did not set goals at the beginning of the year; I cannot recall why I did not write down goals, but that really messed up the first half of 2020. I lost my feeling of accomplishment.

This year is going to the year of change. I want to continue learning because it gives me a great sense of pride and accomplishment. I will achieve this from reading more books or signing up to online courses. I am also considering taking another professional examination to further my career. Noting this, I also realised that my sense of accomplishment is closely linked to self-fulfilment needs discussed below.

Self-actualisation

The final tier of Maslow’s hierarchy is self-actualisation which relates to achieving one’s full potential including creative activities. What does a successful you look like? You are awesome now, but what are the marginal things you can do to be even better? When you look back at the end of the year, what have you done that makes you want to give yourself a fist pump and scream “YASSSSS!”?

I find it really helpful to consider values when thinking about this top tier. What are your core values? Are you setting your goals and living by those values you find important? I think this is an important topic, which I will cover in further detail soon!

Applying this tier to my personal goals, this is where my blog and my YouTube channel is critical. I love to share my learnings from my readings. Moreover, when the lockdown eases, I will be able to share new and exciting experiences with you all! On this top tier, I also consider my wealth as it is one of my core values. This may seem like an odd thing to include but this because money has been an enabler of my full potential, as well as covering some basic needs such as security. Wealth has meant that I could have a beautiful home, pay for cultural experiences such as art and museum exhibitions, travel and pay for a lifestyle I aspire to. This why a key focus is to develop healthy spending and saving habits. This is to partially reverse the damage of 2020 but as a foundation for more exciting things to come!

I would really love to hear about your goals and whether the framework helped in thinking about goals that matter and will lead you to success. Please do leave me comments below or on my other social media accounts. I am sending you motivation and positive energy to set and achieve your goals – best of luck!

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

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