It has officially been 2016 for about 72 hours now and I know that for most the nostalgia and promise of a New Year and a fresh start has yet to rub off of us. Hopefully it never does, but unfortunately that’s not life and if you are like me you have already fallen off the resolution wagon several times.
Its funny because honestly I have never been one for resolutions so to speak. I usually like writing it all down at the beginning of the year and noting to myself certain things I would like to happen come the years end. And with no hard concrete promises or vows my life usually goes in a completely different direction (usually to the left and under a pile of poop somewhere).
My journals, over the years, usually look a little something like this:
1. Working in a career I love
2. Start making payments on student loans
3. Get back into school
4. Pursue my passions in music, writing, photography & film
5. Don’t drink EVER again…
6. Live faithfully for Christ everyday
What my life usually ends up looking like:
1. “Um, how about I need a job right now, not Craigslist spam, thank you!”
2. “Yeeaaahhh… no Amanda from sallie mae, Im sorry you have the wrong phone number, there is no one here by that name.”
3. “Wow Epic Bible College would be nice. Wow! Epic Bible college cost 12,000$ a year? Ugh, on second thought I think I can just read my bible at home… for free. As a matter of fact, where are my old Joyce Meyer books anyhow? I think I need a refresher course on “Power thoughts” ”
4. Journal entry: Jan 3rd 2014 “Dear diary, this will be the year I write!!!” ……..Jan 1st 2015 “Dear diary, Okay for reals this time…this will definitely be the year… creativity here I come…” December 31st 2015 “Dear diary, you know what? I dont need to explain anything to you, youre just a binded book of blank pages anyways… meh!”
5. ………. Well………Rehab was nice.
6. “Ok Jesus, lets try this again in the morning…”
I suppose its like common sense to most rational adults that you gotta do more then just picture what you want out of life, you gotta get out there and paint that “mofo” in order for that picture to become your reality. For me however, this was information I’d known but hadnt gotten into the practice of its application. Up until recently Id totally skipped that part where you actually have to put in the work to get what you want and it wasn’t until recently…recently being today, that I finally realized that there are some necessary changes i was going to have to make if I wanted to get the results I was looking for this year.
So, how do you successfully keep your New Years resolutions when you’ve already fallen off the resolution wagon?
1. Define the Goals!
Sometimes I think many of us can be so broad and so vague about what it is we want to do and accomplish that we can never actually achieve let alone see success because we really don’t have a clear understand or idea of what it is we really want to do. Talking to a friend of mine they told me, “This year I want to do better with my money.” okkkaaayyy? What does that mean though? Does that mean you want to save more money, pay off some debt, stop going to starbucks (Gasp, my God no! That couldnt be it!) or does it mean to donate to charity and spend money on a “better” cause. Youve got to get clear on what it is you’re doing so you know how to plan, focus your efforts, and prepare. Otherwise you’ll just find yourself all over the place.
2. Be realistic & pace yourself
Looking on my list there are a million things I wrote down as goals for this year and many of them are centered around one day: write everyday, practice vocals every day, learn piano, be on time for work (I actually need to get better at this), sleep 8 hours a day, learn to cook, and be a professional photographer by Friday… Literally in a day I’d done none of those things. Why? Because I wasn’t being realistic. Rome wasnt built in a day, and its ludacris to think I can accomplish it all in a day. Instead pace yourself, set out a timeline for your goals. There are some things you can start right now like going to bed at a decent hour, sticking to schedules and practicing time management. There are others that are going to be a work in progress, whether it be for a week a month a year or beyond. Instead of saying I have to do all of this starting today, organize a time line: In six months I want to know how to play 6 songs on piano, in 3 weeks I want to know how to prepare 7 meals, in 1 year I want to lose 36lbs. From that time table you can ask yourself, well what do I need to do in order to learn 6 songs in 6 months? Obviously focus on one song every month and master it. What do I need to do to lose 36 lbs in a year? Do whats necessary to loose at least 3lbs every month. Point: Be realistic and simplify your goals into attainable segments. That way you have clarity on what direction you are headed in and what steps you need to take.
I don’t know where I would be without my support system. Whether its a close friend, a loved one, a mentor, an alarm on your phone or a social network, find ways to be held accountable to what you are trying to accomplish. It’s easy to sleep in and skip the gym when its up to you and your Snuggie, its not so easy to skip out on a friend who expects to meet you at the gym. Its easy to binge on Netflix when you are supposed to be doing a study, its not so easy to watch 6 episodes of Mad Men when you have an online community waiting to link up with you on Skype or Periscope. If you are serious about making serious change you’ve got to get serious about setting yourself up for success. In this case accountability is key. The phrase “stronger in numbers” comes to mind because when you are weak, or drifting, or losing sight of the goal, your accountability system will be there to encourage you, strengthen you, and remind you what it is your’e doing and why.
4. Don’t beat yourself up, learn from your mistakes and NEVER give up
One of my senior high school teacher s, Mr. Hall, said something profound to our class one afternoon that has stuck with me over the years, “NO matter where you are in life, sprint to the finish line; sprint to the end.” Look, lets be real, most of us are making resolutions to change something that we have been doing for a really long time. That means we have to deprogram and reprogram our lives and that takes time, and effort, and work. Sometimes when we feel as though we’ve failed we give up, throw in the towel and exclaim “All hope is lost.” Not true my friend. Every moment is another opportunity to get it right. And no matter where we are in our journey we can accomplish our goals so long as we never give up and continue to sprint to the end. Instead of looking at things as failure or loss begin to see all things as lessons and opportunities. Learn from your experiences and use them as spring boards to propel you into the right direction.
Well I hope these tips help! Good luck my friend and happy New Year!