Happy New Year! There is something about the beginning of the new year that just calls for planning and dreaming. The new year gives ‘official’ calendar changing permission to leave the old behind and begin anew. Well, i love the new year. This time of year is full of fresh beginnings and excitement of things to come. But one thing that has never worked for me is the practice of setting New Year Resolutions but if it works for you, that’s great. No matter how hard I’ve tried, I can never seem to keep them up for three months, let alone the full year. It’s always a bit of a disheartening start to the year. To me, resolutions have always been a promise to do something every day or so many times a week. For example, I would resolve to write five times a week or fix my eating disorder. I was promising myself that I would start a habit right away – without taking into account that habits take months of hard work to fully cement into place. And I would always set three, four, or sometimes even more resolutions all at once. It’s no wonder I never succeeded! That’s asking a whole lot of myself when I struggle to start and maintain a single habit for an extended period. Instead of trying to sucker punch yourself into starting a myriad of new habits right at the beginning of January, start by going over the positive things you accomplished last year instead of pointing out shortcomings from the previous year. The goal is not to work harder(draining all your energy on futility) but smarter. As the hustle and bustle of the year sets in, how can i set effective plans?

START WITH A VISION: What is it that you want to accomplish in the new year? This is a personal question. Please remember that: your goals and hopes for the year are just that – yours. My goals and aspirations may have similarities to yours but they are not going to be an exact copy and vice versa. This is a great thing. Again, what is it that you want to accomplish in the new year? Remember to keep realistic goals. This applies to the goals themselves and the number of goals. Don’t set resolutions that are so daunting they get left behind in two weeks. Set realistic goals that can be accomplished in a year’s time. Also keep the number of large goals small. Expanding a farm by 1,000 square feet, adding chicken and starting a clothing line might be too much to tackle in a year. Pick one large goal and several smaller goals to increase chances of success and build motivation.

Outline steps to realize the goal. This is where most people fail. What is it that needs to happen to make the goal come true? Write those steps out and attach deadlines/dates to them if at all possible. Having that plan laid out from the beginning increases the chances of success. For the first time in a very long time, you’ll feel like you’ve set a reasonable goal for yourself. No longer are you trying to push myself into a habit that you’re ill prepare for. Each month will be a challenge, but it will totally be within your grasp.

DEFINE YOUR PRIORITIES: What is your focus for the new year? Take time to list out your priorities with pen and paper and rank them in order of importance. Where does God, marriage, kids, family, health, etc. fit into your life? I’d like you to go through and pick my top 3-5 priorities for this season. For example, if you want to change your life or your lifestyle don’t try to change the whole thing at once. It won’t work. Instead pick one area of your life to change to begin with. Make it something concrete so you know exactly what change you’re planning to make. If you’re successful with the first change you can go ahead and make another change after a month or so. By making small changes one after the other, you still have the chance to be a whole new you at the end of 2019 and it’s a much more realistic way of doing it. Remember, our seasons can change throughout the year. So we’re just establishing what’s most important to us right now. Keep the important things in the forefront of your mind and push the clutter to the back.

USE A PLANNER: I may choose to live a seasonal lifestyle but the modern world we live and function in runs from January 1 through December 31st. As business owner, writer, and generally professional woman I too have to function in that timeline. Do I make it fit within my seasonal lifestyle? Absolutely. The calendar may say the first week of June but for me I know its rainy season. I start every new year off with a new planner. An actual paper planner. There is something about the act of putting pen to paper that I find liberating and comforting. It doesn’t matter if it’s fancy or simple. Just have a place to keep track of everything and have it be something that can be carried along. Planners can be electronic too. Truth be told, I do a little bit of both some business/writing planning gets done in Google calendar but my day-to-day life and goals are kept on paper. Use whatever works for you personally and don’t be afraid to experiment and try different things until a method becomes clear.

REVIEW THE PREVIOUS YEAR: Take a few moments to review the previous year. This is not meant to be an exercise in defeat. Simply look at the previous year and figure out what worked and what didn’t. If you want to have a successful year, you’ll want to focus on the successes and see the failures of the previous year. For example, if you own a business you’ll want to focus on what worked in your business over the last 12 months.

Is there a product that sold really well? Is there a specific social media channel where you are seeing the most traction? Are there any events that led to more money in your pocket?

In addition to determining what worked, you’ll want to consider what didn’t work for your business last year. There is no need to waste more time or money on actions that don’t get results. From a tactical perspective, this could look like seeing whether or not you’re getting a return on your investment with specific software or tools. Maybe that fancy social media management software isn’t worth the money.

CELEBRATE MILESTONES AND ACHIEVEMENT: Taking the time out to acknowledge successes throughout the year is an important way to motivate yourself to carry on through life plans. Do celebrate accomplishments! Learn from mishaps and accomplishments alike. This is the place to figure out what works in your life. Working full-time and raising young kids might not be the time to shop for jewelry but is the perfect time to get out of debt. “Plans can be a great way to say, ‘Here are some areas of our life we can improve on,’ and to celebrate yourself or your family when you do!

TRACK PROGRESS: Another huge key to successful goal keeping is to track progress. Tracking progress allows you to easily see successes and to quickly notice if you need to work a little harder. Help yourself come up with a system that works. This could be a daily sticker chart or a weekly check in to assess how it is going. You may find that you’re hard on yourself than you would be. Remember, the point of making goals is to learn to change your own behavior or approach. You want the power to stay with you. Of course, check in and keep tracks. If you have one preplanned goal laid out at the beginning of the year then you will be able to keep an eye on those slippery goals and grab them before the year disappears behind you.

ANTICIPATE CHALLENGES: There will be problems so make a list of what they’ll be. If you think about it, you’ll be able to anticipate problems at certain times of the day, with specific people or in special situations. Once you’ve identified the times that will probably be hard, work out ways to cope with them when they inevitably chardup.

SHARE AND FIND SUPPORT: Don’t keep those goals to yourself. Share them with loved ones and find support. Support can be immediate family, it could be other groups and enthusiasts in your area or online. I’ve found that sharing my goals with someone makes them more real and helps me stay accountable. Finding support gives us opportunities to learn from others as well which can often make achieving goals easier.

GIVE YOURSELF GRACE: Finally, please don’t be too hard on yourself! I hate to break it to you, but your year might not go exactly as you planned. Life happens and unexpected things come up. But it’s okay. Your road map here will help you pick up where you left off or reevaluate your priorities and goals. Every bit of progress counts. Creating a plan for your year is a smart decision that will help you get closer to and achieve your goals. If at all creating plans won’t do anything, it will let you know you didn’t achieve your plans if peradventure you didn’t get anything done.

There’s nothing wrong with being goal oriented and as much as time waits for no one, but be sure to have time to slow down(slowly let God lead you to victory) and truly enjoy life and loved ones. Keep it all simple, be gentle with yourself, and strive for a life of authentic purpose. Remember, going ahead to plan is a wonderful idea but living and actually doing all that is planned is better.


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