How to Actually Achieve Your Goals This Year

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130 people had breakthroughs so far this week. Will one of them be you?

One thing for you to think about

This new year, remember: A bunch of small easily-achievable goals are better than one big unachievable goal. Start small.

Better yet: keep that one big ambitious goal, but break it down into a bunch of small easily-achievable goals that gradually build up into the big goal.

Reflect: Then consider sharing this thought with others.

One thing for you to ask yourself

Are you pursuing your goals for your benefit or for the benefit of others?

E.g., Are you losing weight for you? Or to impress others? Are you going back to school for you? Or because that’s what others told you to do? Are you trying to build a business that you believe in? Or that you want others to believe in?

Recommended: Use these as journaling prompts for the week.

One thing for you to try this week

It’s that time of year, where we all set goals for ourselves and give up on them by February. When you set your goals for the new year, here’s something I want you to try: figure out a way to make it fun.

Humans are simple creatures: we keep doing things we enjoy and stop doing things we don’t enjoy. So, if you want to get more exercise, or study a new subject, or take up a new hobby—and stick to it—the trick is to find a way to make it fun. This can be finding other people to do it with, turning it into a game of some sort, with scores and penalties, or finding a way to integrate it with something you already love doing.

Remember: Small changes lead to lasting breakthroughs. For help with your goals this year, consider signing up for one of my courses.

Last week’s breakthroughs

Last week’s email was about managing relationships over the holidays. I asked you to connect with someone in your life who’s a positive influence and create a rule for dealing with those who bring you down. This is how some of you did.

One reader achieved her breakthrough by choosing to spend time with friends over family during the holidays:

Christmas Eve since I met my husband was always reserved for his family party, and I stopped attending my best friend’s party to accommodate his family. After over 20 years, we decided to finally return to my friend’s party, and had a blast!

The difference is my friend’s family is always psyched to see us and welcome us as one of their own, while our actual relatives invite us out of obligation and turn every conversation into a pissing contest, thus creating a very exhausting and negative evening.

We made our choice this year and never looked back.

On the other hand, Christmas with family came as a pleasant surprise to Suzan:

My breakthrough was participating in the holiday dinner with family yesterday. They have not taken care of me the way I want them to, and I considered punishing them by not going to Christmas lunch thinking I’d show them. But I rummaged up enough of my better self to go, I behaved myself, and allowed myself to not be the center of everyone’s universe, and I had a really wonderful Christmas Day much to my surprise, I might add. I didn’t recognize that it was me who I would have actually punished by not participating.

Reader Pal was galvanized into attending a wedding:

On New Year’s Eve, I am supposed to attend a wedding. I am really anxious about it because I will be seeing my classmates there after 16 years. We didn’t stay in touch after school. I was an extrovert in my school days but now it’s the opposite. But now I think I will definitely attend the wedding and see how it goes. I am sure it will be my Breakthrough in one way or the other.

Hope it was amazing, Pal. And a congratulations is in order for Emily who perhaps had the greatest breakthrough of all, she accepted a marriage proposal this week:

I’ve never been in a relationship that was so honest and comfortable. I can be exactly myself and so can he. We have nothing we need to hide, and I can’t wait for him to be my partner for the rest of my life.

Thank you all for taking action and sending your stories last week. Dozens of people asked how to keep a healthy distance from close family members who are toxic. Sadly, this is an extremely common question.

The best thing you can do is when you’re away from them and alone and feeling comfortable, decide on a couple boundaries for yourself: a) how often am I willing to see them/talk to them? And b) what topics am I willing/unwilling to talk to them about?

Once you decide those two things, stick to them. If sticking to them requires that you tell the family member(s) about them, then do that. But decide where the limits of your comfort are around the family member(s) and then adhere to those limits.

Send your breakthroughs this week by simply replying to this email. Let me know if you’d prefer to remain anonymous.

Also, a reminder, that when planning your new goals for this year, whether it’s greater resilience, finding a sense of purpose, developing discipline, or simply planning out your life’s trajectory, my courses can help you achieve whatever you’re after.

Until next week,

Mark Manson

#1 New York Times Bestselling Author
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