• Staci Gulbin, MS, MEd, RD

Finding purpose in your new year goals

It's two weeks into the new year, and you're either smashing your new year health goals, or they are fading away fast. If you're feeling the latter, then maybe your new year goals need a bit of tweaking, or rewriting completely. What may seem important at one point in your life, may not seem so important later on.

This "later on" doesn't have to be a long time. Life may bring us situations like job loss, loss of a loved one, illness, or some other life event that can change our perspective in the blink of an eye. Or maybe something positive happens like the birth of a child, or healing of a health condition that provides us with hope and appreciation for those things in life that money can't buy.

So, if you focused all your new year goals on losing weight, but are losing motivation quickly, then maybe its time to switch focus. The end goal could still be weight loss, if that is you hope to accomplish. However, you could succeed in that goal by focusing on tightening up your five pillars of health.

The five pillars of health are healthy eating, exercise, stress management, sleep, and other lifestyle behaviors like limiting alcohol intake. By tracking your daily eating, hours of sleep, movement, and mood, you can figure out which pillar needs the most work This pillar can then be the focus of your short-term goals to help you meet your long-term goal. This can help make a long-term goal much easier to imagine coming to fruition.

So, how do I refocus my goals?

Once you've figured out which pillar you are lacking in, you can start rewriting your goals. For example, if you realize after tracking that you are only sleeping five hours a night, then this lack of sleep may be linked to other potentially unhealthy behaviors. The National Sleep Foundation recommends seven to nine hours of sleep for most adults. A lack of sleep can make you too tired to exercise or prep healthy meals. It can also impact our stress levels and in turn affect heart and mental health. If you are stressed, you will likely be more prone to emotional eating and not sleeping well. It can be a vicious cycle.

What if my new year goal is not health-related?

If your new year goal is not health-related, then the refocusing will be a bit different, but in some ways the same. You will not be using the pillars of health to figure out your key focus area. However, you will be assessing your current lifestyle to figure out if this goal is something that will help you reach your ultimate goals.

For example, if you are unhappy in your current job, then it will be necessary to write down the pros and cons of your current job.

What is it about your current position that you like?

What makes you dread waking up in the morning to go to work?

Once you have pinpointed the reasons why you dislike your job, then you can decide if a new job is the goal you should be striving for. For example, if you realize the reason you don't like your new job is that you are bored with your current workload, then maybe you could ask your boss for some new and different assignments, or a training course to learn a new skill. If on the other hand, you are unhappy with the way the management runs your department or your coworkers are not easy to work with, then the problem may be less resolvable and a job search may be in the cards.

Finding purpose

No matter what your new year goals may be, you want to make sure they elevate your sense of purpose. As I sat down this morning with my laptop and was writing my weekly assignments, I realized that I didn't feel fulfilled. This particular assignment felt like monotonous work and I no longer enjoyed doing it. I felt empty and longing for an assignment that felt more personal and it led to me posting this article for today. I hadn't felt compelled to blog in a while because of this emptiness I felt.

Now, some jobs are needed to pay the bills. I know that from experience very well. But that doesn't mean that you can't still inject a feeling of purpose in your life during this time. Volunteer, find time to engage in a hobby, enroll in an online class, or visit a counselor to talk with. These actions can help you open your mind to exploring other avenues of fulfillment, and it could potentially help your figure out what field of interest makes you feel most purposeful.

Bottom Line

If your new year goal is not working out, and you feel like a failure, then stop right there. Wipe away any negative thinking and just redirect your goals to help put yo back on track to feeling more purposeful and fulfilled this new year.

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