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This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at UCSC chapter.

With the start of the quarter, it seems like everyone I know has at least one goal they want to achieve this quarter, from spending more time exploring Santa Cruz, to working on stress management. I wholly believe that all of these goals are admirable and I wish luck to all those who are aiming to work on themselves! However, failure always lurks around when setting goals, and it can feel incredibly discouraging.

As I’ve mentioned in an open letter to little ashti, I often set and struggled with the New Years’ resolutions I’ve made for myself. As a result, I would reuse old resolutions with the hope that the following year would actually be the year that I stuck with them. I struggled with maintaining these resolutions year after year though, and I’d end up feeling really upset and guilty with myself. 

I’d feel guilty that I’d placed trust in myself to achieve certain things and failed to do so, and then I’d feel upset because another year would’ve gone by where I failed to do what I had set out to do.

Honestly, these feelings were debilitating, and while I hopefully reused these goals over and over again, eventually, I lost faith in myself and began the cycle of negative self-talk. My mind would be filled with insults towards myself when I forgot to practice a goal (for this example, let’s use daily stretching), and feel hopeless when I did my daily stretching. I’d think, “You’d be so much better at this if only you actually stretch everyday. Instead, it hurts to touch your toes–how can you even imagine that you’ll touch the floor soon?”

These harmful conversations steered me away from the original intent behind stretching daily: feeling better within my body. I focused on the unattainability of my goal because I didn’t practice often and guilted myself as a result. 

I don’t think I need to tell you this, but I will. This type of internal dialogue is incredibly harmful, nor does it serve to produce any productivity. We should try to steer these harmful conversations to be kinder and more productive. I’ve grown a lot (okay maybe not as much as I’d like), and when I feel myself falling into the pattern of negative self-talk, I have several steps that force me toward a healthier conversation. 

When I begin to feel even an inkling of negative self-talk, I aim to control the narrative. If I think: “You skipped stretching three days in a row, it’s not even worth doing it today,” I think about the previous three days, and why I failed to practice. I affirm how busy my week has been and the lack of time I’ve had to practice. I think about the times that I was able to stretch and affirm that all my progress is not ruined by skipping a few days. And sometimes I end up admitting that I failed to practice due to pure laziness, which I have forced myself to un-demonize. It’s okay to be lazy, it is not the end of the world.

As these conversations cropped up in my life, I’ve had to reconcile that my practice isn’t perfect. I will never be the girl who makes goals in her life and perfects them immediately. I will never be the girl who is able to measure out my time perfectly so that I’m always able to include my goals within my life. I will, however, be the girl who created attainable goals and sticks by them no matter how many times I mess up.

My name is Ashti (she/her), I am currently an undergraduate History of Asia and the Pacific major with an Education minor at UCSC.