So, a new year is here. My family has gone through all our traditions, including eating cabbage and black eyed peas (yuck) shown in the picture here. We do it for luck and money, andI’m superstitious enough not to skip a year. I do however, know that eating some veggies on New Year’s Day isn’t going to bring me all the things I hope for. I’m going to need to work for them.
New Years has a lot of people saying prayers and proclaiming hopes and making resolutions. Mostly people are in agreement that they hated 2016 and there’s no way 2017 can be as bad. Hate to say it, but if you’re focusing on the bad stuff, of course it will be as bad. Every year will always look bad if you focus on what went wrong. So first step: focus on what went right.
Here are some things that went right for me this year.
This year I went to Germany with my brother, something we have been dreaming about since high school. One of my best friends asked if I would be in her wedding. I bought a house. I made new friends. I heard God for the first time in my life. (Much much more, these are just the great big juicy highlights.)
When I list it all like that it astonishes me how much goodness I really experienced. How does all that happen in a year?
I have always been a huge New Years resolution denier because “resolution” has become a word for “thing I wish I could do, that I will try for a week, get tired of, and give up on before it’s February”. I don’t like it. I want commitment and growth, not a week at the gym before I give up and return to the old habits. “Resolution maker” to me really just says “goal breaker”.
Why does this happen? Why are all these people setting these soulful goals that they inevitably fail?
Here’s what I think is up.
1- folks wait for the “freshness” of a new year and a clean slate to get started. If you have a goal, why are you waiting for a new calendar to achieve it? I understand it feels poetic to say “this will be the year of…” and I agree, it does feel good. But holding onto a goal waiting for the “right time” to achieve it leaves too much time for your goal to lose its shine, and for you to lose your momentum.
2- many people who make resolutions don’t understand how to make goals. I have been very lucky to work with some very strong goal makers and teachers. High school sports taught me commitment, being on the community service board in college gave me many leadership tools including goal building. but the biggest help was most recently when a friend of mine was becoming a wellness coach and needed a practice client ( ginuea pig). I achieved more goals in those months than I have in the rest of my life.
This brings me back to the problem with resolutions. People say “this year I’m going to work out”. Holy crap people. You are going to commit to working out for a year??? I can’t even commit to being on time to work for one day! How many times a week will you work out?? When are you going to work out? What kind of workout are you going to do? What happens if you have to skip a day because you’re sick or have something come up? Are you going to give yourself grace if you miss a day, or are you going to beat yourself up? That’s the definition that resolution has assumed, and it’s setting people up for failure.
I want everyone to achieve the goals they have in their hearts, because I know they are very good goals. So if you were planning a resolution, here is some advice that I have received myself that you are free to take or leave.
1- identify a goal that makes you feel good. Ex. If you look at your workout goal and think you would rather bang your head against a wall, you need to find a new way to work out.
2- set it to be done the second it hits your heart. ASAP. If on December 2nd you wish that you could learn to play the ukulele then why are you waiting for the beginning of the year to do it? Do it now.
3- set it for the shortest period of time you can. Start with one workout, one day at a time and if you achieve that one goal, then set it again. Look at your achievement in small pieces so you can see how much you’re really getting done. Big goals look big. Which means big success if you get it done, or more likely a big feeling of failure if you don’t. Because let’s be honest, somewhere in your big goal you’re going to trip, and if you feel like a failure then you’re probably going to quit.
4- set specifics. When, how often, where, how, do you need anything specific to help you with this goal that you need to get before you can achieve it? Running shoes, a kayak, a hiking bag, a planner?
5- tell people about it. It doesn’t matter how many, it just matters that they are going to support you. I need people to hold me accountable during the soft mushy stages of my habit forming, which scientists and goal setting gurus say is the first 30 days.
Here’s the main thing. Don’t feel obligated to set a resolution you aren’t into. Set one if you feel strongly about it, but make it achievable. Make it short. Make it full of heart and desire. Call if a resolution, call it a goal, don’t call it anything and just count it as a part of normal life. Just don’t build pressure. Don’t wait for the things your heart calls for. A new year feels like a new start, but you can make just as strong a start without a “clean slate”.
Do it now. Do it all the way. Do everything you can, appreciate the things you seem to luck into or that God takes care of, but don’t let your body half ass your heart’s desires. Set yourself up for growth and always use your full ass.
Best wishes for growth and freedom from halfassery during all times of year.