During the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day, I came across a variety of articles detailing how to “start off the new year successfully” and social media posts sharing how people were using that time to “mindfully set their intentions and goals” for the New Year.
That process sounded idyllic.
It was exactly what I wished I were doing, but my reality was far from that relaxed and intentional goal-setting space.
Alternative Time Line
It’s basketball season!
The time of the year when I attempt to strike a balance between my introverted, slightly hermit-like normal self and the Coach’s-Wife-and-Basketball-Mom-as-Cheerleader version of myself—enthusiastically supporting my husband and children in their pursuit of all things basketball.
Instead of quiet reflection and focused goal-setting—I was alternating between driving 1.5 to 2 hours away to see my children play in post-Christmas basketball tournaments in two different cities (Go Spartans!) and watching my husband’s college basketball team play, either in the arena on-campus or on TV. Go Vols! ☺
Seeking the stillness and solitude I needed for self-examination and intentional goal-setting was placed on hold, while I cheered on my family members in loud, crowded arenas—taking in both the excitement and the stress of their competitive games.
Relaxation and Family Time were the priorities on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day—then it was time for Back-To-School planning and preparation.
Quiet reflection and goal setting would have to wait until school started back!
Well… we’re over a week into 2018 and hopefully, your new year is off to a wonderful and productive start!
But if you’re like me, and find yourself in the middle of a belated beginning—here are a few suggestions to get you on track.
1. Take a breath and begin where you are.
Release any negative thoughts about not having it all together by January 1st!
My use of the wording “behind schedule” in the title was meant to humorously recognize the reality of our busy lives.
But using terms of scarcity or lack (I’m behind schedule… I didn’t get enough sleep… I don’t have any energy… I don’t have enough (fill in the blank)—can get in the way of our progress, without moving us toward positive, productive solutions.
Always remember: It’s never too late for a fresh start!
Focus instead on your desired goals and intentions for this year—then take the first action step in that direction.
2. Practice being more mindful.
Words have power—especially the words we tell ourselves!
We can negate our progress before we’ve even begun, with thoughts like, “Why didn’t I get started earlier? There goes another year of resolutions! I’ll never accomplish my goals!”
Become more aware of your words and your thoughts.
Take the time to notice the ways in which they influence how you feel and the actions you take.
Mindfulness is bringing attention to experiences occurring in the present moment—the way you’re feeling, what you’re thinking, the language you’re using, and what you’re doing.
Being more mindful can help us create positive momentum toward achieving our goals for this year.
3. Practice gratitude and self-compassion.
Gratitude is a thankful appreciation for all that we receive. It provides a way for us to acknowledge the goodness that’s present in our lives.
Self-compassion, according to Dr. Kristin Neff, Co-Founder of the Center for Mindful Self-Compassion, is “being warm and understanding towards ourselves when we suffer, fail, or feel inadequate,” rather than being self-critical.
Practicing both gratitude and self-compassion can help us create a more balanced approach to everything we do.
4. Make a commitment to your health and wellness.
Find ways to incorporate physical fitness and activity into your schedule.
Whether it’s joining (& going to) a fitness center, walking with a friend, doing yoga in the living room, taking a dance class, or just increasing the number of steps you take in a day—increasing your physical activity is beneficial to your health overall.
Choosing activities we actually enjoy will increase the likelihood that we’ll continue them.
Drink more water and eat more healthfully.
Having water and healthy snacks on hand during the day, planning ahead for meals, by prepping vegetables (washing and slicing or chopping them), bringing your lunch to work or school, drinking water in place of sweetened drinks, and making a meal plan for the week—are time-savers that could increase your chances of success in this area.
Make time for restoration.
Getting adequate amounts of sleep, recognizing the importance of downtime and relaxation, adding meditation or journaling to your routine, pursuing creative endeavors, and/or rediscovering a hobby you enjoy—are all important and can contribute to a sense of well-being.
5. Write your goals down.
Pick the goals you want to focus on this year and the steps you’ll need to take to achieve them.
Those goals could be professional (creating a business plan), academic (improving your grades or completing a degree program), or financial (creating a spending plan or budget AND a plan for saving). They could be relationship-based (spending more time with family and friends and creating better work-life balance) and/or community-based (volunteering more or donating items you no longer need).
The goal setting process can be overwhelming. Many find the planning and organization required challenging. Make your goals simple enough to integrate into your life, and challenge yourself to consistently take steps toward those goals—modifying them as needed.
If you find yourself getting stuck—pause, and take the time to honestly examine what’s meaningful and important to you. Adjust your goals to reflect that meaning and design your plan of action in a way that fits your values and lifestyle.
Now that we’ve got a plan, and have given ourselves permission to implement it (albeit, a week or so into the New Year)—with focus and determination… let’s begin!