Here it is! The end of an old year and the start of a new one, complete with everyone’s resolutions to lose or gain weight, to read so many books, to save money, etc. all wonderfully documented by social media so that those of us who haven’t thought of any goals yet (who, me?) can recognize their lack of responsibility and ambition…
But really, I like the tradition of New Year’s Resolutions. I am just as guilty as anyone of taking my resolutions seriously until approximately January 3rd…but it is an exciting thing to be able to set goals for a new year. Well, exciting and overwhelming. So as I start to consider my new year’s resolutions, here are some pitfalls I’ve noticed in myself that I’m going to try to avoid. Maybe you’ll see some of your pitfalls too:
- I’m going to limit myself to two or three specific goals. God must laugh a little when I take New Year’s Day as an opportunity to outline every aspect of my life (spiritual, mental, physical, emotional, creative…) and and all of the attributes and accomplishments I want in each of those areas–and then I wonder why I can’t remember all my resolutions, let alone keep them up longer than 72 hours. (Let’s be honest, it doesn’t even last 72 hours.)
- I’m going to pick MY New Year’s resolutions, not someone else’s. I’m happy and excited to see my friends’ resolutions to get healthier and stronger (complete with inspiring before and after pics), to finish creative projects, to get control of their finances, and so on. I really am. But just because these are your resolutions–and even if they are areas where I could use some reform, too–doesn’t mean they need to be mine. I need to focus on what I feel I need most, what is most feasible for me, and what is going to make the biggest difference in my life. We say it all the time, but we really do have to stop the comparison thing.
- It’s okay if my resolutions are goals that I’ve set a gazillion times for myself and still haven’t accomplished yet. When I was a kid, our family joked about how one of my mom’s resolutions for about six years was to change her name. But you know what? It did happen eventually! And even though I’ve committed on approximately 200 different occasions to read my scriptures every day, or to get myself out of bed and exercise in the mornings, or to write this stinkin’ book I’ve been wanting to write since I was in the third grade, I haven’t failed at that goal until I give up on it. So here’s to those goals that we really are going to accomplish this year…for real this time…
- I need to see my goal. It’s a nice thought that I’ll remember it on my own, without writing it down–but it’s false. I need to write it down and put it somewhere I can see it if I want to have a prayer of actually following through.
- I also need someone to keep me accountable. I get out of bed in the morning when I have a class or a meeting or I know someone will be waiting for me to show up. When I have no outside accountability…the bed wins. Every time. Accountability buddies are a real thing.
- I will remember that my goals are important, but not markers of my value or my happiness. My worth is just as high now, before I’ve accomplished the things I want to, as it ever will be. I also choose to be happy and grateful for the life I have now, even as I work to make it better and more useful.
- My goals will be things in my control. I can’t control the actions of others, but I can control how I respond to them. I can’t control (usually) what trials or challenges arise in my life, but I can control my attitude toward them. I can’t fully control my relationships with others, but I can control how I treat them. These seem pretty obvious, but it’s hard to stay motivated to work toward a goal if we measure success by outward results that we can’t really do anything about. So I need to find ways to measure my success based on my own choices, and not necessarily on “results” (unless those are results in my soul).
I still haven’t figured out what my resolutions are, but this is a start. It’s really empowering that we have the opportunity, not just at New Year’s but all the time, to change things about ourselves and our lives. We really are who we choose to be, and that’s daunting…but it’s also wonderfully exciting. Here’s to choosing to be better and happier this year!