It’s January 1st and we know what you’re thinking. It’s a new year, so it’s time for a new you and a new list of New Year’s resolutions. But this year, instead of making resolutions that will end up with the dust bunnies under your bed, try creating New Year’s goals.
Resolutions and goals seem similar, but the difference is in the approach. People make resolutions expecting to change immediately. But it’s unrealistic to expect change overnight, and that’s why goals are important. Goals allow you to move slowly instead of overwhelming yourself, getting frustrated and giving up. Goals help you make positive, healthy changes in your life. Here are some tips on how to start (and keep going!):
Make your goals about YOU.
Kirstin Brekken-Shea, a senior lecturer in the Health and Kinesiology Department at Texas A&M University, says it’s important to realize who you are when making goals. And this is especially true when it comes to your body.
“Each of us is special, unique and graced with certain characteristics and gifts that make us who we are,” says Brekken-Shea. “Accept yourself and learn to love yourself – flaws and all. Then, take a healthy look at how you can improve yourself.”
There are things you cannot change, so focus on the things you can. What works for your friends might not work for you, so personalize your goals.
Set short-term efforts to help reach your long-term goal.
Once you have established your goals, the key to achieving them is to focus on a long-term goal and then identify supporting short-term goals. If your goal is to drink more water, create short-term goals to help modify your behavior. Find a water bottle you love, keep it full and with you at all times. Or if you drink lots of soda, replace a soda a day with water. Little steps turn into big leaps. Make these short-term goals specific so you know exactly when they have been accomplished. “Most importantly, you must identify specific behavior changes that would support your goal,” Brekken-Shea says.
Goals aren’t always about achievement.
Create goals that help you discover who you are and who you want to be. A long-term goal sets a point on the horizon for who you want to be, but it’s easier to make that journey if you know who you are now. By knowing where you currently stand, you can set up short-term goals that will keep you on track towards your long-term goal. Short-term goals with the purpose of discovering who you are could include taking on a new hobby, performing random acts of kindness, reading for pleasure, reading your Bible or bringing a new person into your circle of friends. Set goals that requires extra effort and some kind of change. Make your goals realistic, but not too easy to attain. Your goals should take you out of your comfort zone (even if it’s just a little) – you never know what you may discover about yourself.
Track your progress and stay accountable.
To stay motivated, youth ministers John and Beverly Moore suggest enlisting a friend to be your accountability partner. Write e-mails offering encouragement or meet at your favorite hangout to talk about progress, celebrate victories or just vent. Keep a record of your progress in a journal.
“Start journaling goals, thoughts, feelings, moods, ups and downs, prayer requests, foods eaten or even exercise routine,” Beverly says. “Then re-read them a few months later to see how well you’ve done or where you need to make improvements in your life.”
And finally, don’t be afraid of change. If you don’t experience success examine your goals and modify as needed. Remember – you have the power to start over at any time.
niNe.’s New Year’s goals:
Body: Try a new sport or fitness activity once a month
Relationships: Go to coffee with a girlfriend once a week
Reality: Put $5 into saving every month
Intuition: Read 1 new book per month
You: Volunteer 1 day a month
Feature: Express your voice a different way every month until you find a form of expression that you love
Look: Donate one clothing item per month
Entertainment: Discover a new band or artist every month
Faith: Memorize 1 new Bible verse per month