At least, why it matters to me. Without a doubt someone somewhere has already debated this topic. There are probably categorized theories, documented research, well and poorly written books…none of which I am bringing to the table. This post is off the cuff and a reflection of just my own experiences and personality.
It matters to celebrate and it matters to reflect and New Year’s Day gives us a chance to do that EN MASSE. All around the world people will be gearing up for the New Year. This isn’t about partying (although that’s a typical norm for many); my “celebration” of the New Year will probably be nothing more than a quiet moment or two of reflection. A “Huh, last year was pretty great. I’m excited for this new one.” Nothing fancy-but it is still a significant moment for me; a moment of deeper self awareness, and as I get older my view broadens to a greater global awareness. New Year’s provides a good opportunity to do this, whether you take advantage of it is up to you. As much as we like to glorify self reliance, we people were designed to love, and love requires connection. The New Year can be a simple connection point, an experience that millions of us are participating in around a 24 hour period. Yes, I realize some cultures do not celebrate New Year’s Day on the First, but many do, and even those who celebrate the New Year on a different day still do so in a manner of reflection and celebration. It matters that we all mark the end of one year and the beginning of the next.
It gives us a starting point, a blank slate so to speak. There are probably theories on the effective-or ineffectiveness-of nailing down goals on the New Year. But whether you write them out with a detailed plan of attack or just vaguely think about them, the New Year creates an atmosphere of starting fresh. You can’t, of course, ever completely start over. But you can challenge yourself, push your limits, or even just create a vacuuming schedule ( 😛 ). You don’t know what you are completely capable of. The New Year is one time of year where-whether you pursue them or not-the idea of improvement is front and center. This matters. I think we need this more then we get it because ALL of us need to improve. All. Of. Us.
As far as goals go-I do best with New Year’s resolutions. They’re just tidier in my book. There is something satisfying about starting a goal on January first and checking it off on December 31st. I’ve started projects and goals mid year and been successful-but I am MOST successful if I start in January. If I can’t get something rolling by January-chances are it won’t happen.
So make some goals, people. Or resolutions. Or life vision quest challenges. Or whatever you want to call them. But when you do so, here are a few things that I keep in mind to make mine more successful.
- Make them measurable (we’ve all heard this one, it isn’t new, it’s still good advice).
- Have accountability.
- PLAN. I cannot emphasize this enough, coming from a completely disheveled, disorganized background-planning makes all the difference on completing a goal and missing the mark. Create a plan, follow the plan, tell others about the plan.
- Be prepared to fail-successfully. You may not achieve all of your goals, but if you’ve even partially moved towards it in the right direction then this is progress. It is a “failed” goal, sure. But you’re closer to achieving it then you were when you started and this is a successful failure.
- Related to the above point, don’t despair. (HA! “Don’t despair, prepare to fail!” How’s that for a catch phrase). You may get derailed a few times (hey, life happens) but that doesn’t mean you need to completely toss in the towel. Be aware that this happens to the best of us. Pick yourself up, try again. If your goal was to read a chapter every night before bed and you miss a week of reading by the second week of February-don’t give up, still try to read every night for the remainder of the year (even though, let’s be honest, this is a completely unreasonable goal for most of us) and maybe tick of a calendar box every night you are able to so that you can measure your progress. At the end of the year you can tally up how many days you read and that’d still be a pretty cool number to see.
- Build on previous goals, or repeat them. Supposedly it only takes 21 days to form a habit. Well, it takes me less then 3 to break one if that is the case.To be a creature of habit I have to WORK at it. Which means some goals I repeat to keep myself on track, or I expand on the success of a previous goal to keep that area of my life moving in the right direction.
- Figure out the TYPE of goals that work for you. For example, say you want to get healthier in the New Year. Are you a “lose 20lbs” type of guy or a “workout once a week” type of girl? Or maybe a “read three nutritional books this year” individual? Whatever angle works best for you, THAT is what you need to put in your goal. If you want to increase your amount of exercise, improve your nutritional know-how, master a cooking skill-whichever gets you closer to your overarching goal of healthy living.
Lastly, y’all. Don’t take yourself too seriously. Introspection is good. Goals are good. Not being able to relax enough to enjoy the blessings you’ve been given is not good. Find the balance, walk the line between focused and obsessive. Laugh at yourself.
Here are some things I discovered about myself in 2015 that I find not just a little bit embarrassing/amusing.
- I technically have a home business. HA! Oh man, I feel like I’m checking off some military spouse right of passage. Next year I might open up an Etsy shop, you never know.
- I can’t pretend not to be health nut anymore when I get excited about finding coconut aminos in the commissary.
- I like the taste of organic stuff better. I mean, I’m not ready to jump on all of the organic bandwagon because I tend to be a skeptic when it comes to the latest and greatest healthy whatever (seriously, is coffee good or bad for you? What about wine?)-but dude, it does taste better. Especially eggs. But also chicken. And produce. Ok, usually all of it. Maybe because I am cooking with far less sugar and salt so I can actually taste the difference? I dunno, but it’s a difference I’m willing to pay for and the lack of pesticides is nice. I’ve totally crossed over to the dark side haven’t I?
- I, the child who had piles of stuff a couple feet deep in her room, is now tossing/donating things left and right and LOVING it. No duplicates. If it doesn’t get used, pitch it. If I don’t wear it, pitch it. If the boys don’t play with it, pitch it. PITCH IT ALL! (Or donate. Actually mostly donate, but PITCH IT ALL sounds more fun). There is such irony in this. I used to obsess over saving pipecleaners I was sure I could untwist and reuse, and tiny, tiny shreds of scrap fabric that would eventually disintegrate into threads.
That’s it for tonight, tomorrow I’ll have my Resolutions up and running. Happy New Year everyone! Take a moment to reflect and celebrate, even if it’s in your pj’s while browsing Facebook. 😉