As 2016 becomes 2017, many folks will be making resolutions for the new year. Good intentions can quickly give way to frustration and guilt, though, if ample thought isn’t put into creating these goals. And who wants to start the year with frustration and guilt, especially considering the 12-month dumpster fire we’ve just collectively endured?
Here, then, are a few ideas for setting goals for 2017:
Consider the “why” behind the “what.” What are the reasons you want to read a novel per month, take on additional responsibility at work, or expand your circle of friends? If you’re sensing a nudge from the Spirit, tapping into an abiding desire, or coming up against a make-or-break moment (e.g., major health risk, request from a supervisor), you’ll have a better chance of succeeding than if you’re operating out of a sense of “should.”
Focus on what you can control. Want to lose 10 pounds? For some, that goal is attainable in a month. For others, it could be a year-long aim. There’s only so much we can do about our body’s chemistry and various environmental factors. We have much more control, however, over our actions. It could be more helpful, then, to frame goals accordingly: I will eat two more servings of vegetables per day, I will take 30 minutes of my lunchtime each day to walk around my workplace.
Note that there’s a step between doing differently and being different. Change usually begins with an alteration in routine. But for the change to stick, there must eventually be a shift to seeing things differently – not just “I teach,” for example, but “I am a teacher.” This new perspective is the midway point between trying something new and becoming a wholly new person.
Set sub-goals and celebrate when you achieve them. It’s easy to get discouraged when you set a big goal – even if it’s one that comes from deep within – and seem to be making only slight progress, or even taking two steps forward and one step back. Bite-size your resolution. If you’re a novice athlete who wants to run a 5K, first make a plan to run two minutes without stopping, then work up to five minutes, and so on. And reward yourself when you hit those smaller marks!
Build in support. Ask someone you trust to cheerlead and check in with you. If you’re concerned that this is requesting too much from a loved one, partner with someone who has a similar resolution, trade accountability and encouragement with a friend who has set a different goal, or hire a professional to help you stay on track.
Focus outward as well as inward. Don’t just consider resolutions focused on self-improvement. Think about ways you can make the world around you better with the achievement of your goals. We need these kinds of efforts now more than ever.
As you make plans for the coming year, consider how a coach might help you address challenges and meet goals. I am hosting an informational call about coaching on January 12 if you’d like to learn more about the process and its potential benefits.
May your 2017 start out with hope, and may your resolutions be a means for stoking that hope in the months to come.