New Year Resolutions and goals: January is that time of the year when everybody is obsessed with redesigning their lives. I don’t know about you, but I have been inundated with articles, emails and posts, promising a better you, your best year ever, and so the list goes on. How are you doing with your New Year goals? If you are like most people, 92% in fact, you have fallen off the rails by February, or maybe you didn’t even start. One of my favorite memes is the one that says “I can’t believe it’s been a year since I didn’t become a better person.”
I Don’t Do Resolutions
I gave up copying the previous year’s unaccomplished goals on the 31 December every year, and now I don’t even pretend to have New Year’s resolutions. Horrors of all horrors, this coming from a Life Coach who spends her life telling everybody to focus on goals. Goals are not my issue…the date is.
It took me a while to think through this post because I don’t mean to sound like a kill-joy, cynical. “Oh guess who started their new year on the wrong foot type scenario.”
This is not to bash those people who make a single-minded choice to change one thing e.g. smoking, and succeed at it. My dad did that around 50 years ago and has never touched a cigarette since. Well done to you.
New Beginning or Same Old?
It is great to think of a new year as a new beginning and a fresh start; it’s a great place to plan a better life. The problem is we are easily buoyed up into a false sense of anything is possible because it is a new year. Then we realize that nothing has changed since yesterday, other than the numeral we write down to represent the year we are in.
The truth is, you are all amazing and full of potential already. I mean, you survived last year, did you not? Yes, we can all do with some tweaking and some intentional planning. But if it doesn’t happen at 00:01 on the 1st January, it is not the end.
It can be chaos after the holidays, starting work again, getting back into a routine and if you live in South Africa, it’s the start of a new school year. (Who on earth came up with that idea?) The last thing you need is to be implementing a whole new way of life.
By week 3, we are back on the hamster’s wheel, frazzled, with goals and good intentions out the window, feeling like total failures. The new bike sits unused; the gym contract gathers dust, and the health food goes off in the fridge. Does it sound like I know about these things? I do. I’ve seen it enough times.
The only meaningful life changes I have made, have not been at the beginning of the year. We need to be intentional in the way we live our lives throughout the year and that won’t happen if we don’t take our desire to change seriously, 365 days a year. To have a vague desire or make a long list and then hope for the best, will not facilitate change. It takes thought, planning and a new mindset to bring about real change. The change has to happen in our minds first.
Many resolutions are not thought out, or they are made months or weeks before, to be implemented in the New Year. By then you have forgotten what you were thinking at the time.
“Good resolutions are like babies crying in church. They should be carried out immediately.” Charles M. Sheldon
Why do we fail to change?
One of the biggest problems with goal setting is that we work backward. I want ‘x’ therefore I must do ‘y’. We should not be asking what we want, but why we want it. The starting point of all starting points for me, when goal setting, is knowing ourselves. We can’t set goals if our hearts are not in it. Unfortunately, this is the part that is most neglected. We chase goals that are not ours or they’re impossible to achieve in our immediate situation.
We need to discover who we are first, then why we want to change, and finally to set about a plan, with the support and encouragement of others.
This brings me to the second reason for failure, and that is, we tend to try and do things on our own. We need our friends and family to help us find out and uncover who we are. Often our view of ourselves is very different from what others see. Once you have set out a plan, it helps tremendously to have that support and encouragement along the way as well. A community is key.
Awareness precedes action and action precedes change-Bill Gibson
The next problem is that speaking a desire is easy. It rolls off the tongue with ease. Go on. Say what you would like to change. Now say how you are going to do it? Not so easy, right? Because that part takes some thought. It won’t just happen. It takes effort.
Herein lies the problem. Goals are not S.M.A.R.T. Almost 20 years in sales and I could smack a person with a wet fish if they asked me to set out my S.M.A.R.T. goals. But sales know a thing or two about achieving targets.
People fail at making meaningful changes because they are not convinced they want to and if they are, they have no plan to reach it. Their goals are not personal and/or specific. I love sitting with people to work out their goals because you see them begin to realize, that change is possible, no matter what the date is.
Are Goals Important?
Yes, I do believe they are. Without a goal, we have no direction. The problem I have with most coaching courses and goal setting workshops is that they always tend to focus on the material things and encourage you to rely on self to achieve success. All say rah-rah. This smacks of shunting God out and forgetting how we were created in the first place.
When I did my coaching course, I learned so much and although there were valuable lessons, I felt there was something missing. As I applied principles, I learned through my own life experience that you can’t set and achieve goals without Godly perspective.
He created mankind, He knit us in our mothers’ wombs and He knows the plans and purposes that he has for us. So why do we ignore Him when we are planning our goals? We need to start with who we are; how we are all unique; what our innate desires are and what our purpose is. Then and only then will we find true direction and success. Yes, you can set worldly goals and even achieve them. But at what cost? Look at how many celebrities and successful people are burnt out, unhappy, doped or drugged up; the price they have paid to reach their worldly goals without God.
What I have developed myself and stood by, is goal setting Gods way. The most crucial beginning is finding out what He wants for us and setting our goals accordingly. It takes some soul searching and the outcome may surprise you.
How do you do this? You start with prayer and continue praying throughout the process. There are strategies and tools required and lots of self-reflection, but if we are not centered on solid principles, we risk chasing fantasies.
How to start with goal setting
We hear so much about goal setting. I mentioned it to somebody once and they laughed, saying who had time to sit and set goals. If you do the process right, goal setting saves you time. With technology at our fingertips, it is so easy to type up a few words as we wait in a queue waiting for the kids or for a friend to meet you. Each time something hits you, jot it down.
I have collected loads of inspirational material on my dreams and desires over the years. Articles, pictures, brochures… you name it. Each time I come across something new, I add it to the pile. Have I followed up on all of them? Nope. And that’s ok. Sometimes what we think might have been a good idea, turns out to not be what we thought. The real dreams stay with us. They grow and they develop. Get serious about these ones. These are the ones that are set deep in your heart. Nurture them. Make a plan to achieve them. These are the ones that will bring you fulfillment and purpose.
All is not lost
Do not chastise yourself if you have not made any goals, or if you have given up on them already or didn’t make any because you thought you would fail anyway.
If you are not happy with your life or if you feel frustrated and need to change, make one decision right now. Not because it is a new year, but because you owe it to yourself and you deserve to be living the life that was meant for you. Make the decision to know yourself, really know yourself. This can be quite interesting and some revelations may come as a complete surprise. Then allow yourself to start dreaming those crazy dreams.
Below is a set of questions from the #checkmeout_challenge. The 6 areas addressed are loosely based on Zig-Ziglar’s wellness wheel, a popular tool with coaches. You can read more about The Checkmeout Challenge here.
- Take some time to work your way through all the questions.
- Calculate your result as a percentage based on the number of questions.
- Use the explanations if necessary.
- Once you have 6 results, plot them on the wellness wheel.
- The wheel provides a quick visual of how you are doing in the various areas of your life.
This is not designed as a scientific analysis, but serves to draw your attention to those areas which may be causing stress in your life and are in need of attention.
If you would like prayer, somebody to chat to or advice, you are welcome to:
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