The New Year is a wonderful time to reflect on your life and embrace the power you have to preserve and change certain aspects of it. Of course, there are things about life we can’t change or control. But there is so much that we can do, even small changes, that can make our lives better. Examining what you want from life and setting personal goals, or New Year’s resolutions, can be a step in that direction.
The first approach is I recommend is that you set aside time to think about your life and what you want for yourself and for your family. This worthwhile exercise does take time, but the days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve is a good time for this kind of reflection. You can think about this while walking, or talk about it with your friends or family.
At some point, you may want to spend some time alone, writing or typing your personal goals. I am sure the writing point is the place where many people hesitate and do not move on with their resolutions. Let’s examine that. Why is the process of writing down your dreams and goals so daunting?
- Not sure how to set goals. You may not know how to set goals for yourself, or you may have a vague idea of goal-setting that isn’t really actionable for your life. I was not taught how to set goals for myself, and it is not an innate skill. There are many approaches, and some of them are complicated. I found several techniques online, and adapted them for my own use, which I will share in this blog this week, before the New Year begins.
- Fear of failure. Maybe you have set personal goals or resolutions before, and have failed. Well, no one likes to fail. Personal change is difficult. It may involve sacrifices of time, money, and other resources. It can be painful, at first. Failure, partial or entire, is a possibility, especially if you’re contemplating a big lifestyle change, like stopping smoking or losing weight. One effective way to counter the fear of failure is to write down all the obstacles that you think you may encounter in achieving each goal, and decide how you will overcome them. Writing down the obstacles will help make them seem more manageable and less anxiety-provoking. Another way is to break your goal into many pieces or steps. If you achieve some of the steps in a year, but not all of them, that cannot be called a failure, really. Just progress, on your way to your ultimate goal. For example, this year, I did not lose the weight I was supposed to lose. Of course, I’m disappointed. But I did develop healthier eating habits, and I gave up eating some unhealthy foods, and I started walking and exercising more toward the end of the year. So, that is progress toward my goal.
- Fear of success. Successful personal change can be nearly as intimidating as the fear of failing. Perhaps the people around you may not fully support you or embrace the new changes you make. Can you imagine the fallout if you became more successful? More attractive? More wealthy? More happy? Jealousy is a reality. You might make new friends, but you might lose some, as well. That has happened to me before. It hurt, but as one counselor told me, real friends are there for you when you are successful, as well as when you are down and out. Visualize yourself when you have achieved your goal. What will your life be like? What kind of people can you involve in telling about your goals, and supporting you along the way? Who will be your cheerleaders? Who will help you celebrate your success?
- Contentment. If you’re reasonably content now, why shake things up with resolutions that may create their own set of problems, you may wonder? Contentment is a wonderful place to be. Just be sure that it is not disguised as a comfortable rut. Even if you don’t feel like you have changes to make, perhaps think about the things you would like to preserve that have brought about your contentment, and what steps you need to take to maintain your present good quality of life.
An Action Plan! Sometimes, all you need to get started are the right tools. I did not create these tools, but they are free to share, and I think they are helpful. They are PDF files where you fill in the blank to write your own personal goals. A completed example is also attached, which should guide you as you write your own personal goals and action planc. Download these tools for writing down your New Year’s Resolutions: action-plan1 and action-plan-example.
Stay tuned for more suggestions in the blog this week on how to write effective New Year’s resolutions.