5, 4, 3, 2, 1…. Happy New Year! And so begins another new year.
As we turn into a new year, 2018, I am given over to thoughts of new beginnings and new years resolutions. Well laid plans for this new year. However, I have to wonder whether my plans for this year are worth making in the first place and if I am going to succeed.
I have to ask myself what is different to this time last year. I made well laid plans for 2017 but what happened?
Let’s just say that 2017 wasn’t a good year… neither was 2016. And if I’m to be totally honest, 2015 was a bit of a washout in terms of resolutions unachieved.
The purpose of New Years resolutions is to make some kind of change to ones behaviour or undesired trait or to accomplish some kind of personal goal in order to ultimately improve ones life.
So I decided that if anything was to be different I needed to consider a few facts first before I embarked on my new beginnings for 2018:
1) Approximately 40-50% of the adult population make new years resolutions.
2) Approximately 45% of those people who make new years resolutions are 10 times more likely to succeed than those who decide to change their life at other times of the year.
So if I’m going to change some aspect of my life, the turn of the New Year is the best time for my new beginning, according to statistics.
However, another statistic to consider:
3) 88% of people who set New Years resolutions will fail, despite feeling confident of success at the beginning.
4) The other 22% achieved their goals when they set goals that were measurable, realistic, and had a date by which to achieve it.
My previous New Years resolutions failed because I set unrealistic or unachievable goals for myself, or I just didn’t keep track of my progress. Sometimes in the past I forget about the resolutions I’d set in the first place. Some years I just didn’t bother to set any.
As I considered the facts about my new beginning for 2018, I found an interesting quote that resonated with me:
“If you asked me for my New Years Resolution, it would be to find out who I am.” Cyril Cusack (British Actor)
I thought back to stuff I have read on goal setting and on beginning a new life (physically, mentally, spiritually) to see if there was any inspiration I could use to ensure that my goal setting for this year was successful in finding out who I am and who I want to be.
First I have to think about what it is I really want to change, improve, or achieve. Examine in myself why I need to make these changes and perhaps what has stopped me before. Self honesty is important in making any changes.
So I started by writing it down. If I just think about it, it becomes more of a wish than a resolution. So I did the following:
1) Set a date: when do I want to achieve each goal by
2) Make measureable steps (weekly, monthly, quarterly)
3) Think about possible setbacks and how to deal with them
4) Monitor my progress
5) Find someone to support me in my goal/change
6) Reward myself for each step along the way in achieving my goal/change – important for motivation
Next I added a step not often seen in books about goal setting: I prayed to the Lord for support, the courage to take one day at a time and not fall when times get rough. For that I need to forgive myself when life throws me a curveball.
I thought about the times when I have tried before and failed in order to understand what I could have done better. Acknowledging my mistakes, accepting responsibility for them and moving forward.
I have failed previously because I allowed negative thoughts and blame (of other people or things) to circulate unchecked in my mind. I have dwelled too long on the negative by justifying my failures or inability to change. This justification of the negative leads only to doubt and confusion and ultimately to giving up.
But acknowledging where I’m at, understanding the hurdles I face, and then praying for guidance reminds me that “With God all things are possible.” Matthew 19:26
I also discovered in reviewing my previous years’ resolutions that in making some kind of changes there is a period of letting go of the old and embracing the new. A momentary time of grief. Acknowledging that part of yourself or your life that now has to die. This for me is deeply personal. I have to understand my WHY. Often I write it out, then burn it. Then I say a prayer to let go of that unwanted part of myself.
So taking a quiet moment in my day, I sat down and wrote what I wanted to do. Then I broke each down to measurable steps. I kept it to three things. Not too many and realistic for me in my busy life with three children, a busy working husband, and a job.
I then set a time frame and achievable milestones along the way. I looked at times when I had tried before and why I failed. This was difficult but necessary if I was going to change. Self honesty is not always an easy step for me, but 3 days into my new beginning I feel stronger because I know why I want to change and have a spreadsheet with measurable goals along the way. I have support from my husband and others. I prayed.
So as the new year begins and we get back into full swing once again, take time to reflect. Take time to see what you want to change or achieve in this year and take steps to achieve it. I would like to be one of the 22% of people who achieve their goals this year. Will you?
How many of you make New Years Resolutions and what do they mean to you? How many of you have succeeded? What did you do to make it meaningful?