I noticed it immediately when I popped into a store on a quick errand a few days ago. Gone were the up-front displays of last-minute holiday gifts and stocking stuffers. In their place were racks of active wear, water bottles, weight sets and exercise DVDs. Yes, it’s officially that time of year – you know, the time when we all promise ourselves that this will be it. ..the year when we’re finally [insert your own self-improvement vision here].


It’s not that I’m completely against self-improvement. I’m not even necessarily against making a resolution in honor of the New Year, if that kind of motivation works for you. The problem is that too many of us reach for impossible ideals fueled by impossible plans of action that lead to very real feelings of failure.

And that’s no good.

I’m a fan of setting goals because I’ve learned from experience that for me, a lack of direction often means floundering. Getting clear about where I’m going greatly increases the likelihood that I’ll get there.

But…I’ve also come to the shocking revelation that I am merely human, after all. I won’t always do the things I should do to reach my goals. My laser-like focus will become fuzzy at times. I will slip up and trip up and lay on the couch watching episode after episode of Homeland – none of which makes me a bad person.

Sure, setting a goal and making a plan to get there is an important component of any sustainable change we want to make in our lives, whether it’s health related, like getting regular exercise, eating healthier or vowing to speak more kindly about ourselves and others, or a goal like landing a new job, buying a home or spending more time with our family. But you know that old expression, “Failing to plan is planning to fail?” I think the key to reaching any goal is to take that expression a step further by actually planning for failure. Because you know those moments will come: The day you hit the drive-thru on the way home because you just don’t want to deal with cooking a healthy dinner. The day you decide to hit the mall instead of putting extra cash in your savings account. Or the day you decide to blame your bad day on the size and shape of your body. For a lot of us, these little “failures” to stick to our plan snowball until we’ve lost sight of the plan altogether. That’s why we need to prepare for our “failures” by reminding ourselves that we must get back on track when we find we’ve veered off-course.

Because in the end, the only insurmountable mistake we can make on our way to a goal is giving up.

Here's to a healthy and happy 2013!

About the Author

Dara Chadwick

Dara Chadwick is the author of You'd Be So Pretty If… :Teaching Our Daughters to Love Their Bodies—Even When We Don't Love Our Own.

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