Suddenly, 2017 is a thing of the past and 2018 is upon us. With the excitement of a new year comes a plethora of resolutions and social media promises on how things will change. Often people resolve to become healthier, save money, go back to school, go to church, or spend more time with family. Many people are hoping to usher in a paradigm shift in their lives.
However, as January fades in February, many resolutions become a distant memory. Life tends to get in the way, and many people discover that as easy as it is to make New Year’s resolutions, it is difficult to maintain the discipline to keep them.
So what is it that makes resolutions so difficult to keep? Fear and self-doubt are two common reasons. We are often overcome with fears and doubts about our ability to meet our goals. The reality is we often go into the new year with the best of intentions, but may find ourselves overcome with common cognitive distortions that hinder us from true progress. This is case for me, at least. In an attempt to counter these distortions, I created a list of five things to do to ensure intentionality for the new year.
- Write your vision and make it plain. I know this sounds like work, but oftentimes our minds become so full of ideas that if we don’t write them down and organize them, they may get lost in a sea of other thoughts. Writing clear, tangible goals in a clear and concise manner is the first step in holding ourselves accountable.
- Create a plan for how to execute your goals. If your goal is to eliminate debt, part of your execution plan might be to create a budget, save more money by shopping less, or pay off credit cards by a certain date. If your goal is to secure a new job, part of the execution plan might include hiring a résumé writer and attending networking events. Simply put, writing down goals is not enough—it is imperative that a plan is put into motion so goals can be fully realized. Create a step-by-step action plan with dates and deadlines so you are consistently making strides toward your objectives.
- Pace yourself. You can drink a gallon of water, but probably not all at once. If you are like me, you are extremely ambitious. This ambition often leads to wanting to achieve many things at the same time. As wonderful as that can be, it is often unrealistic. By no means am I saying lose the hunger or fire for success—I am simply saying it’s okay if everything doesn’t happen at once.
- Enlist an accountability partner. Ideally, this is someone who is a true friend and will give you the truth with no filter. These types of people are the best accountability partners because they will help to keep you on track when you grow weary, tired, and frustrated with the process. You need someone in your life who will tell you to just keep going, even when you don’t feel like it. Of course, this relationship should be mutually beneficial, meaning you do not suck them dry but rather motivate your accountability partner to stay the course as well. This also gives you someone to celebrate with when you do finally reach your goal.
- Practice self-care. It’s hard to be good to others if we are not good to ourselves. Take that yoga class, get that pedicure, read that book, or have that glass of wine. There must be space in your life that is carved out for you. As I have learned in my graduate program, self-care is not optional—it is mandatory, particularly as you are trying to reach certain goals or milestones. Often, we put so much pressure on ourselves to achieve our goals that we end up saying things like “no days off” or “I’ll sleep when I’m dead.” I challenge you to look at self-care as another part of your carefully crafted plan to achieve your goals. A well-rested person makes for a more productive person. Self-care looks different for everyone, so take some time to figure out the best self-care plan for you and implement it as often as possible. After all, you can’t pour from an empty cup.
If you want support in setting and reaching achievable goals, contact a therapist in your area. Happy New Year!
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