Read This Before Making Your New Year’s Resolutions

For the last 5 years, you’ve written “Run a half-marathon” and “read through the Bible in a year” on your list of New Year’s resolutions. You have yet to meet those goals. I know because I’ve written the same things on my list.  This year, I’m doing something different. By trial and error (mostly error), I came up with a list through which I filter my goals for the new year. I know it will be helpful for you.

Before I finalize my goals, I ask these questions:

*What does this life season allow?

It can be a challenge, but it must be attainable for the stage of life I’m in currently. It should be something I can achieve if I stretch hard enough. This might mean I enroll in one class instead of full time graduate school. It might look like community theatre instead of Broadway. Or maybe it’s a 5k instead of a marathon.

*Am I sure this is a goal I really want to put effort into?

I see you, person who has written “run a half marathon” on her list for the last 5 years, but doesn’t enjoy running. We’ve all fallen into this trap. We hear other people’s goals and we think they sound like good ideas. The problem is that I’m really not that invested in goals I borrow from someone else. This is especially true if they require hard work and sacrifice. I have some past goals that I laugh about now: handwrite a book of the Bible, eat all organic food (okay, that was never an actual goal of mine). I’m sure you have some you could add to the list. The resolutions I borrowed from others, are always the the first ones I quit when it gets hard. I only have so much time and energy. I need to stick to working on the things I want to do or need to do.

What’s the purpose of this goal and could I achieve that purpose a different way?

For instance, I’ve written down “complete Jillian Michael’s 30 Day Shred DVD” several times as a goal. I never finish it because I hate doing exercise DVD’s. This year, I’m not going to attempt the dreaded DVD because I can accomplish the purpose (losing weight and getting in shape) a different way- a way where I’m more likely to find success.

*What worked in the past?

For those areas where I’ve had success in the past, what did I do that made it work? Can I apply that to my goals for this coming year? When we set a goal to finish funding our Emergency Fund in 2015, we made it the first budget priority after giving. We paid into savings first. It was something that became automatic. We didn’t have to make decisions about it over and over. We were able to meet that goal that year. That’s a clue to what works for me. Make it something that happens right away and, mostly, automatically.

*What is bringing me the most frustration?

Frustration or pain can be powerful motivators to help kick off a change. I’m going to put effort into fixing something that I can feel dragging me down. I’m not going to spend my limited resources on something that isn’t broken. For me, in this season, something that brings a lot of frustration is Social Media. Yikes. You can see my plan for this year here.

*What is one thing I need to quit doing?

This isn’t about quitting smoking or quitting eating junk food. This is about asking what things are filling up my time that I can quit. What am I involved in that I don’t have to do and I don’t enjoy? Opt out! Send an email. Right now. I get extra credit if I can manage to quit doing something that is good to make room in my schedule to pursue something better.

What do you think? Tell me some goals you have failed at miserably in the past? What are you trying that’s different this year?

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