Seeing as half the world is chanting “new year, new me”, I thought it might be a good time to share some tips on how to live out these words beyond the first 3 weeks of January. Saying that, I am going to start this off by explaining that I’m not a new year’s resolution kind of girl. However, I am a goals kind of girl. I know that technically they’re the same thing, but I am passionately against the idea of waiting for a new year to become a new you. New Year's resolutions can become a procrastination tool, where people appease themselves by saying that they’ll do it in the new year. If in September there’s something about your life or habits that you want to change, start working towards it in September. #thenewyoudoesnthavetowaitforanewyear
Now let’s get on to my 4 top tips to help you make some tangible changes and progress this year.
- Be SMART about your goals. SMART means make your goals SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC and TIME BOUND. For example, one of my goals this year is to spend more time relaxing, resting and enjoying my life. While that’s all hunky dory, that’s also easy for me to break because that’s impossible to track. However, I have made this SMART by taking the time to think about what enjoying my life means to me and setting goals based on that. Therefore, I have a goal to attend at least 2 praise and worship nights in the first quarter of the year and to re-read all the 7 books in C.S. Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe series by June. This is SMART.
How do you do this for yourself? Well think about what steps need to happen or what you need to do to achieve your overall goal and then set that as your resolutions. Let’s say you want to drink more water this year, well a useful lifestyle change would be to always have a water bottle on you, so set a goal to buy water bottles for your home and work by the first week of January and then set a goal about how much water you will drink for the first 21 days. You can then review your progress after 21 days and then set a new water drinking goal. Comment below if you want help or ideas.
- You can’t do it all at the same time! I’m not being pessimistic, but if you’re like the rest of us humans, you can’t suddenly give up all carbs, go to the gym 5 days a week, start drinking 2 litres of water a day and spend 2 hours a day in devotion. This is the REALISTIC part of SMART in more detail. It’s admitting that all that has changed with the new year is the date. You’re still you, you’re still going to have the old commitments you had yesterday, and it will be ridiculously difficult to suddenly change a lifetime of habits. However, it is easier to stick with small incremental changes that will lead to overall behaviour changes.
For example, you will note with my 2 goals above, I’m being conservative. It would be nice to attend 10 worship concerts in 3 months, but I know I still have work and life commitments, so I’ve limited it to 2. If I attend more than 2 worship nights, then great. However, if I say I want to attend 10 worship nights, I am setting myself up for failure and I’ll spend the time stressing about how I’m failing, which would be the opposite of my overall goal to relax.
It’s also worth noticing that I’m not trying to do everything at the same time. Even though I’ve given myself 3 months to attend the worship nights, I’ve given myself 6 months to read the Lion, Witch and Wardrobe series simply because there are only 24 hours in a day.
- Failure doesn't mean it’s over. It’s an opportunity to start again! This is by far my favourite tip. The reasons so many resolutions end in January is because people break their rule in January and then decide it’s over. If you make a mistake, let’s say you break your diet and eat a whole gateau to yourself in a bingeing bend or you end up missing one of your days on your read your bible in a year or even if you skip the gym for a month, it’s okay. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Simply adjust where necessary and start again. And if you fail again, start again, and again, and again. By next year, you might have failed 100 times and you might not be where you wanted to be as you dreamed up fantasies of the “new you” on New Year’s Eve, but you will have made some type of progress.
- Be accountable to someone about your resolutions. Find someone that will tell you to try again when you fail, someone that will call you out when you’re slipping and someone that will really annoy you when you want to give up. In fact, they should be so annoying that the thought of what will happen if you tell them you’ve given up, should instantly drive away all thoughts of quitting.
Now please note, I didn’t say pick your best friend. I said find someone. Actually, take the time to think about whether this person will support your goals. If you’re trying to get closer to God and your best friend just isn’t passionate about that goal, then your best friend will not keep you accountable, so go find someone in your church. Or if you’re trying to get fit and your best friend could care less about fitness, then go find someone at work, at your church or even better make friends with someone at the gym that will work with you on this goal. Though it is worth noting that any changes you make are for your growth, so drive yourself and be accountable to yourself.
I hope these tips help and remember you can set new goals at any point in the year. Happy New Year!