Every year, on December 31st, millions of people gather ‘round the TV and count down to a new year, a fresh start. Many of them promise themselves they’ll break habits, start new ones, do better. Some have thought about it for awhile, while others are struck with inspiration as the ball drops. I have this tradition every year during the week between Christmas and New Year’s Day that I started a few years ago: make a New Year’s resolutions list. Ok, so most people only pick one or two things to work on for the year, but I’ve never been grounded enough to choose just ONE thing I want to do.
For a long time – most of my life, in fact – I didn’t really do the resolution thing. Not sure there was a specific reason why, just didn’t get into it until after having kids. And when I started, I already had lofty hopes for the things I could achieve in 365 days.
The year was 2013. My first list of things that would improve my life. It contained a measly 47 items (Hey, go big or go home, right?) penciled in list format on printer paper. I don’t think there was much thought put into it. Mostly, I needed to regain some sense of control over my life. I had two little ones and one on the way, and I needed some goals to achieve to feel like I had accomplished something.
My list grew over the years and I found it very therapeutic to meditate on the things that I wanted to accomplish. I kept my lists, and at the end of every year, I re-added the items I wanted to work on again, nixed the ones I didn’t, and added the ones I hadn’t accomplished. It was reassuring to see on paper what I had accomplished in a year and helpful to see which things I hadn’t so that I could try and prepare for them more in the next year. Of course, with every year, there were always new things to I wanted to try.
If you’re looking to add more dimension to your list of New Year’s Resolutions, or if you’re just stumped on which thing you want to work on most, here’s a list of goals I consider when I make mine (in no order of importance):
- I have two: my writing career and my fitness career. For my writing career, I try to think about things that will make me a better writer, like reading. I try to read one book a month, which is difficult with so many littles. I didn’t accomplish this my first year, but I have exceeded it in the past few years. Also, as long as I read 12 books a year, I consider it a win. Then, I consider projects that I have already started, like editing a novel I’ve written or finishing a ghostwriting contract. For fitness, I think about how I want to expand my business in terms of which kinds of trainings I’d like to take and how to procure new clients. This is a great way to set smaller and larger goals for the year.
- This is a newer category for me since I haven’t been as active in my careers until this past year. It kind of dovetails with my career goals since advertising and seeking new opportunities with my careers directly affects my income. But, I also set some really huge goals that are directly related to income that I know are probably unattainable. I do this so that I’ll work harder to achieve them. For instance, let’s say my goal is to have an income of $20,000 a month by the end of the year (Which I totally don’t. I’m not THAT crazy.), I will work extra hard to try and meet that goal. And if I fall short, I’ll still likely be doing better in my monthly income than if I hadn’t set it that high. But, yours could be as simple as paying off a certain loan by the end of the year, or starting a savings account.
- If you’re a parent, you know there is no end to the number of things you’d like to accomplish with your kids, from tying shoes, to hygiene, to learning life skills or doing chores. For me, I jot down super simple things, like throwing each of them a birthday party. One simply says “homeschool.” That one alone could include an infinite subset of goals! This year, I wanted to get Fuzz potty trained (nailed it…for the most part). It could be something a little harder to gauge, like not yelling so much. Maybe you won’t go a whole year without blowing your lid, but having it as a goal has certainly helped me be more conscious of the fact that I do it and it’s something I’m improving on.
- Ok, so this is probably the most popular New Year’s resolution people make: to get in shape, shed some pounds, work out more, lower that blood pressure, run a 5K. And, I think it’s an important thing to consider. Your health is undoubtedly the most important thing you have, and I always make sure to consider my health when I make my resolutions (Yes, my list for 2018 includes running a 5K.) But, maybe it doesn’t have to include exercise. Maybe you want to meditate daily and just slow down from your fast-paced life, or maybe you want to quit smoking. Put it on your list, and if you don’t do it this year, chances are, you’ll work harder at it the next.
- Socializing and Travel. I lump these together because they’re both leisure activities that aren’t exactly hobbies, but affect mental and emotional health. A lot of things on my list have to do with events I would like to attend again (or for the first time) with friends and places I’d like to go. Obviously, my ability to meet these goals is directly affected by my income and time I have available to do them, but if you are as busy as I am, your friends probably are, too. It’s good to consider setting aside time to spend with them. You could try and make a lunch date with your friends once a month, or plan a barbeque during the summer. Maybe plan a weekend trip somewhere and meet up with friends who have moved away. We could all use more of this.
- There are always things we wish we had more time to do: learn a new language, learn to paint or draw, go fishing. I have several, but my big one is gardening. For us, it helps save money, provides nutritional food for our family, and teaches our kids hard work, patience, and responsibility (Yes, we make them help us.). So, I have more than a dozen small goals to meet in terms of gardening every year, mostly because it’s a big job, and we plant a large garden, have started an orchard, have berry patches, and grow herbs. There’s a fence that needs tending, food that needs preserved once harvested, and seeds to be saved. Setting goals for multiple hobbies isn’t a bad idea, but if you have one in particular that you really enjoy, setting specific smaller goals might be the best way to organize your thoughts for the year to help you maximize your experience.
- Maybe you want to get married or just find a significant other. Maybe you want to spend more time with your SO. Last year was the first year I started concentrating on this aspect of my life since, after four kids and a crazy schedule, I realized what was lacking in mine and my husband’s relationship was quality time together. I’m sure we all have at least one thing in our relationships we could work on.
- Home Improvement. This one’s kind of a no-brainer. Houses and properties are never at a loss for fixes and updates and new projects. Maybe you’ve been thinking about adding a pond to your front flower bed for awhile, of repainting your living room. Maybe there are a dozen or so little projects you’ve been meaning to get to, like hanging pictures. This year, do it. Put it on your list and cross it off before the next year.
- Lastly, Personal/Spiritual. These are the kind of goals that are usually more abstract, but are really important to me in my personal growth, like trying to be more positive or present or patient, or to be kinder. Again, these types of goals are harder to measure, but writing them down goes a long way toward helping you keep these things in the forefront of your mind, and therefore, makes them easier to work on. Yours may include thinking before you speak, listening more openly to others’ opinions, attending religious services more regularly. It really depends on what you’d like to work on.
Whether you go all-out for your New Year’s resolutions and fill up a page with your list of goals (I’m at 103 with a few hours left in 2017) or you’d rather focus on one or a handful of things you feel are important to you, there’s something to making a list and keeping it on hand. You’re more likely to hold yourself accountable. Try it! Let me know what you’re focusing on for 2018 or something you’ve thought of that I haven’t (I’m always looking to expand my list!).
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