Happy New Year, everyone! I hope you all had a wonderful and safe switch from ’15 to ’16. Make sure to practice writing the date so you don’t mess up writing your checks (I ALWAYS do!)
But let’s get real here for just a few minutes. The new year tends to be an emotional roller coaster for people for so many different reasons. There is the rush of disbelief (“how in the world did we get here already?!”), maybe there are waves of regret over the events of the year or relief because this chapter is finally closing. There might be fear or joy for what is around the next corner. During this time, though, almost all of us get the little rushes of hope for a chance for renewal, for growing, being better.
Usually, the big question is “Do you have any resolutions?” Over the past few years my answer has changed from listing out all the things I want to do this year to saying no. I don’t set specific resolutions anymore. I identify areas and ways I want to be better this year than I was last, areas I want to grow compared to last year. I have found that the old way of resolutions is such a set-up for failure (at least for me, anyways) . For some, setting specific daily or weekly goals might work, but for me, I tend to get so down on myself when I miss a mark or overwhelmed trying to “catch-up” that I miss the whole point- GROWING & BEING NEW!!!
It’s so easy, around December, to do this. People catch the warm-fuzzies, the pretty lights, the thoughts of hope, generosity, giving, time off from work. It’s so easy, with all of that, to focus on the excitement and opportunity of the “new” that we forget to be realistic. That seems to be what trips people up. Real life hits and suddenly a week’s worth of goals pass by so they’re just dropped and left behind. So, this year, I want to encourage you as you prepare for the new year. Here are a few things that might change the way you think about your goals for the year and maybe help you escape resolutions so you can focus on the REAL goals- GROWING and LIVING!
1.Identify just a few areas you want to improve in your life.
– Boil this down to just a few words, but choose ways that YOU want to improve this year. Keep it general, the more general it is the less restricting and defeating. (Ex: Be organized, be more disciplined, be more generous, be more healthy, read more, etc.)
– Setting goals like this opens up a plethora of ways you can improve, it gives you the flexibility to change as you go through the year, depending on your schedule and on life.
2. Be flexible and be okay with your mess-ups!
– It’s okay to set numerical goals, but don’t restrict yourself and ESPECIALLY don’t get down on yourself if you don’t hit that target. Think of it as working out a muscle- it’s hard to just jump in and do it, sometimes it takes time and failure to really improve in an area. Encourage yourself by knowing and being content with the fact that you may not have hit the exact number, but you did better than you did before.
– Ex: My 2014 goal- read more. I set my #goodreadschallenge to read 15 books that year. I read 5. Did I hit my numerical target, no. Did I read more than the 0 books I read in 2013, yes! Goal achieved! 2015: Same goal, same number. I read 7. Did I hit my numerical target, no, Did I do better, yes, and I feel encouraged to keep doing better.
3. Keep them REALISTIC!!!
– As I said above, it’s SOOOOO easy to set crazy specific goals during the holidays and time off but when real life hits, it can actually increase your stress trying to stick to it or increase the likelihood that you’ll fail and quit, altogether. Keep your goals realistic to YOUR life- your goals shouldn’t look exactly like someone else’s. You’re unique, let your areas and goals for improvement be unique to you.
– This year I’ve also kept the motto “slow and steady wins the race”. Don’t pile on massive amounts of things to do and goals to hit, you’ll most assuredly burn yourself out or fail. I know if I do pile them on I tend to burn out, so just focus on a few and you’ll excel in them.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…” – Hebrews 12:1
4. Write them down and post them somewhere you’ll see them REGULARLY!
– A lot of people write theirs down in a journal or don’t even write them down. For some people, it works, but for a majority of us, we move on in our journals, we forget about them, our brains get crowded with all the other things in life.
– Posting your “New Year’s Improvement s” somewhere you see them daily will help you reflect on them more. You’ll ask yourself, “Hey Self, are you doing that? No? Yes? Okay…what do I need to do to get back on track?” Ex: I’ve put mine in a frame and put it on my work desk at home so I can see it everyday and remind myself everyday.
5. Smile, ask others about their goals, and encourage them AND yourself!
– Don’t just focus on you. One of the most encouraging things to do is to feed into the hearts and lives of other people! Encouraging them will also encourage you and you’ll make yourself all the better for it.
Giving up resolutions has been so encouraging. I stopped getting down on myself for not hitting specific goals and started focusing on seeing and being excited about how I grew. Was I the most organized I could’ve been this past year? No, but I got better. Was I the best teacher in the whole wide world everyday? No, but I got better. Did I read my Bible every single day? No, but I got better. Focus on the positives because the negatives will only weigh you down and stunt your growth.
Live life with joy, growth, encouragement, and improvement. Live life and pour into the lives of others. Live life, know and glorify God. Be new and be wonderful!
God bless and I hope and pray you have a wonderful new year!