With the new year rapidly approaching, everyone is eager to make lifestyle changes and plan for the future. This, of course, means new goals and resolutions for a new year. “New year, new me”, as the saying goes.
As I reflected on past new years, I came to the conclusion that I have been getting this all wrong. I was expecting myself to change overnight (again, “new year, new me”). The expectation was that come January first, I will be a changed person, free of all my bad habits and shortcomings. This, as I’m sure you know, is not how it works. Yet even after knowing this, most of us set that expectation for ourselves; and then feel like we have failed somehow when we return to our old behaviours. We end up feeling guilty about having “failed” at resolving our issues.
I’ve tried approaching things in a totally different way as well; by setting no resolutions whatsoever for the year! You can’t fail if there is nothing to fail at, right?
Wrong. Not setting any resolutions or goals for myself was just a cop out of looking in the mirror and seeing what needed to be changed in my life. So, what I am doing this year is decidedly different from the first two approaches I’ve been reusing for the past years of my life; And here it is! My suggestion(s), if you will:
First and foremost: reflect.
Before thinking ahead, it’s always nice to pause; see where this year has brought you and what are the key takeaways from this year. This need not be a large and daunting task. Simply, take some time alone to meditate or journal on this and show gratitude. Once that is done, you can start to look towards the future. By just planning the “new you”, you will not change. Acknowledge how far you have come and how much you have grown in 2018.Then, when you look at the future, you will know where you stand. You can’t plan where you need to go, if you don’t know where you are; you do this by knowing where you came from.
Think in terms of the bigger picture.
Where do I want to put my focus and energy this year? Try asking questions that get you to open up about what it is you are meant to be doing with your life. Summarising that into one line or motto will help keep you on track. It’s about defining a path. That’s not to say you can’t take detours along the way. But once you define the general idea of which direction you want to head in this year (towards health, creativity, gratitude, etc), you will find that achieving your goals along the way become easier. This is because you are clear on your why. So, don’t start by getting bogged down by the details: exercising daily, blogging twice a week or spending time with your family. That will come. But only after you have drawn your road map; after that, getting from one place to another is no problem.
Slow and steady.
Once you know your path, you can draw out small stops to make along the way to reach your end point. My biggest advice, when it comes to this, is to take small steps towards your goals. If you want to practice gratitude in 2019, then start by typing in something you are grateful for right now into your phone. Sometimes big goals and plans are great, but what is even greater is taking action right now; by setting yourself up for success.
One last piece of advice: count your small wins.
I have found this to be so incredibly helpful. Give yourself a pat on the back for going to the doctor, filling out a form or ticking off that to do item you had been postponing for weeks. Take a moment at the end of everyday to focus on the things that made the day great and what can make tomorrow even better.
Thus hopefully, once you know the path that you are on, it will always be in the back of your mind, like a guiding force for the year.
So, go ahead with your New Year Resolutions!
In conclusion, resolutions are great. But sometimes what is even better is setting yourself some basic guidelines; and then, just going after what you want, without expecting yourself to “resolve” all your issues overnight. If you want to stop eating chocolate, instead of making that your “resolution”, take the chocolate you have in your fridge and give it to someone out on the street perhaps. See, you are already working towards that goal. But now, it is no longer a big scary thing that you have to stop doing. I am sure you will find your way around!
So more than resolutions, what is important is knowing what path to come back to when things get tough; and to keep taking strides forward towards your goals no matter how far you stray. You will fall; and you will get up and do it again. So don’t worry about resolving anything just yet… you will have plenty of time to do that during the year…!
Wishing you a wonderful journey and new year ahead!
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