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The new year elicits all sorts of images and emotions in us. Most prominently is the idea that a new year’s resolution (or several!) must be made. Just in the past two weeks, I’ve come across hundreds of articles about how to make a new year’s resolution and how to stick to the resolution once you’ve made it.
It’s a little overwhelming.
In fact, a few years ago I swore off resolutions – I never stuck to them anyway, so why bother when all it brings is guilt and feelings of failure?
Do you really need a New Year’s resolution?
That’s actually a good question. Why make a resolution?
Before you make a list of all the lofty goals you’d like to achieve this year, first you must take a good, hard look at yourself. Are you ready to commit to yourself? Or are there other things in your life that take priority right now?
Many of us start with good intentions, but many of us use new year’s resolutions as nothing more than a distraction.
When we’re in the middle of a battle (a life crisis or a particularly difficult season in our lives), it’s easier to focus on creating a new goal rather than figuring out how to get out of the mess you’re already in.
Don’t do that.
Really, if there is other stuff going on in your life right now, take a break from making resolutions this year. You can jump back in with a new year’s resolution next year. Don’t make life harder by shifting your focus away from where it should be.
But, if you’re just “busy,” like so many of us are these days, maybe making a goal and carving time out of your life to focus on it is just what you need to bring some direction and feelings of success back into your life!
How to make a New Year’s goal
If you’re ready to make a goal, a commitment, a resolution, here’s what you need to do.
First and foremost you MUST let go of any guilt you’re hanging on to. If last year you vowed to lose weight but didn’t (or even if you put on a few extra pounds), just let it go.
Last year is over and you can’t change it. All you can do is learn from it and move on (I know that’s cliche, but it’s the truth).
So, take a deep breath, close your eyes, and repeat after me: It’s okay that I didn’t reach my goals last year. I’m going to let go of what might have been and focus on what I can do now. I am worth it – I will do this.
Next, you need to think about what you want to accomplish in the coming year.
Do you want to go back to school? Deepen your relationship with God? Strengthen your marriage? Lose weight? Get out of debt? Read more?
The options are endless – you are powerful and can accomplish anything you set your mind to! Write your goals down – keep in mind that you’re not a superhero and your resources are finite – don’t make your list of goals too long (you’ll only get discouraged).
Once you’ve settled on a couple goals, it’s time to get to work.
Think about what you can do every day to work toward that goal. Keep the end-goal in mind, but break it down into smaller chunks. If you find something you can incorporate into your daily life, you’ll remain focused on your goal and you’ll be much more successful.
That was the easy part. Now, the hard part – actually doing what you said you’d do!
You need accountability
I want you to get out your calendar. Schedule those tasks that you can do every day in your calendar.
For instance, my New Year’s Resolution is to get back to my running program (the busy holiday schedule and all the recent snow has completely derailed my running habit!). I found a training program from Women’s Running that I want to follow and I put the daily exercise schedule into my calendar and set a reminder to pop up the night before so I can prepare for the next day.
If your goal is to go back to school, make a checklist of the steps you need to get started and schedule those in your calendar.
As you do more research and learn more about what you need to do to get there, add those tasks to your calendar, too.
I think you get the idea.
Give yourself a break
Now, the last thing I want you to do is cut yourself some slack.
You’re only human, life gets busy sometimes, you get sick, your kids (or your spouse) get sick, out-of-town business trips, your in-laws showing up to visit for the weekend – things come up at the last minute – and it’s okay.
You’re not going to beat yourself up or punish yourself for missing one day (or two!). Just get back on track the next day. Keep at it and you’ll get there!