The celebrations of Christmas are still in our memories, and the promise of a new year is just around the corner, and the discussion of new year’s resolutions may be making their way around the water cooler or the dinner table. There are enthusiasts for the “new year new you” while others shun the exercise as worthless. As is the case for many things in life, the answer is somewhere in the middle. It’s helpful to use a landmark like the beginning of a year to start something, but without clear goals and objectives, you’ll lose before you begin. Here are some thoughts to help you make the best of your new year.
Hope is not a strategy
There is, for better or worse, a lot of “should” in our society. “I should spend more time with my children” or “I should spend fewer hours at the office,” etc. You have to go one step below this “should” and identify the why and measure if you have the time and energy in the near future to deal with it. Jon Acuff often mentions that when he had two children both under the age of 3 in the house he ditched the “should” in “I should keep my garden in order.” He knew that his bandwidth was being tested and rather than try to do everything, he made conscious choices about what he was excluding. It’s okay to feel a “should” (that’s normal). But then contextualize and see if it makes sense: if you have the energy and desire to follow through, and if it fits within what is essential for you in the coming year.
Real goals are specific
“I want to lose weight” and “I want to have more free time” and “I want to take more vacation” are all examples of terrible goals. This isn’t because of the sentiment, but because these are vague. How much weight do you want to lose? How much free time do you want to have? How much vacation do you want to take? If you take the time to be specific, the next question is automatically begged: so how are you going to do that? At this point you’re further than most people are when it comes to resolutions: you’ve gotten specific and you’re asking how you’ll accomplish that. Maybe you want to lose 5 pounds. Maybe you want 10 more free hours of free time per week. Maybe you’re finally going to go to New Zealand for a month the way you’ve talked about it for a decade. The more specific you get on your how, the easier it will be for you to execute.
Less is more
That promise of the new year fills us with hope to improve every area of your life. But prioritize. What area in your life really needs your focus and time? Then, if you want, create 2 or 3 goals within that area. By creating a theme for your year, be it “family,” “career,” or “money,” you’ll have a way to constantly remind yourself what you’re striving for and can create a narrative for your journey in a new year.
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