Welcome to the heart of the holiday season! With Thanksgiving just passed, the spirit of Christmas can fully be felt in the air. Seasonal music fills the airwaves and we enjoy it because it signifies a miraculous time of the year. We’re reunited with family and friends and filled with a childish cheer. It’s absolutely incredible to watch the change in the collective societal mind-shift. ‘Tis the season of giving and loving.
Yet, I can’t stop my thoughts from drifting ahead to 2015. Don’t get me wrong, I love everything about the holidays and the various meanings it signifies, but I can’t help but to reflect. My initial reflection focuses on all of the great successes and joys of the year, coming to a climax with the holiday season. So much has been achieved and learned in this year, but where does it rank? Where were the additional opportunities? Where were the shortfalls?
So I do some digging and low and behold I came across my resolutions for 2014. If we want a reality check, I’d encourage us all to briefly reflect and/or return to our goals for the year nearly ending. For those that hit all of their goals this year, congratulations! The following content is for the majority of us who may have overlooked, forgotten, or neglected a few opportunities in our lives this past year.
Perhaps a few of us can connect with some of these following cliché resolutions:
– Get a raise/promotion
– Cut back on the fast food/unhealthy eating habits
– Shed a few pounds
– Create a workout schedule and stick to it
– Learn/read more information to further develop our intelligence
– Take a risk to advance our wellbeing
I’d encourage us to now ask a simple, yet very difficult question of our goals: Why?
The first of the “why’s” is most certainly pertaining to why we weren’t able to achieve our goals. There are a million reasons and they’re all relevant in their own accord. It was too cold, too hot, the market was volatile, they didn’t pull their part, tried my best, that event happened, a setback, extreme change, etc. It happened and as a result our goals didn’t. I’m not here to scold our life choices and why or why not we didn’t hit our goals because I truly believe there is a bigger issue to our individual shortfalls.
Which leads us to the second and almost always overlooked “why”: Why did we choose to make those goals in the first place? The New Year brings a great new opportunity to devote ourselves to a new personal cause, but is it truly what we want or just a societal craze fueled by marketing campaigns? Everyone does it so is that why we do it? For the church goers, the later lent season gives us the motivation to create new habits? ‘Cousin Jane’ looked really good at the family holiday get-together and she did ‘that’ program last year? ‘Uncle Bob’ had a heart attack and we could all be a little healthier? And the other unmentioned reasons we committed to our 2014 goals.
So for those who still wearily read on, I ask a third “why” question. Why go through the uncertain and potentially unyielding circus process all over again come 2015?
The answer is commitment and a slight change in approach. I’m not telling you this will work because there are no guarantees in life, as we’ve all found out by missing opportunities in 2014. The request would be for each of us to look in the mirror and ask, “If we didn’t hit our goals last year, what is going to change this year?” If there’s a glimmer of curiosity, I’d encourage the following four suggestions to be internalized.
1. The most important by far, more than all of the others combined and quintessential to successful goal attainment. Timing: when we decide to commit ourselves. Utilize the New Year if you so choose; it’s a great time to find our fourth suggestion. It has to feel right in our whole being, more than just the gut feeling we’re accustom to acting upon. A gut feeling can get us there, but can fall short in a time of adversity. Thus, feel from the combination of the heart, mind, and body. Does the heart yearn to achieve this goal? Has the mind eliminated reasonable doubt with positive thought and optimism? Does the body feel strong and healthy enough to take on a potentially life draining challenge? If yes, take on the challenge and write down the goal.
2. Take the written goal and multiply it into 30 reminders and motivators. Add to the calendar at home and work, a constant reminder to utilize time to attain the goal. The board in the kitchen that accumulates lists, photos, and bills. The background in the phone, laptop, tablet, and desktop. Post-it notes, picture frames, posters, bathroom mirror, daily alarm (comparable to medication reminders), etc.
3. Reward ourselves for incremental successes but never via a return to any previous negative disposition, especially the habit we’re looking to recreate. This allows us to constantly reinforce our efforts with positivity, for a frequently renewed dedication and motivation. We can also more simply visualize our recent successes and look forward to upcoming challenges, an achievable feat compared to the enormous end goal.
4. Find a person or persons who want to achieve similar goals and spend time with them. Very few have the mental and emotional stamina with valium to see through a goal unencumbered. A partner of equal dedication will create an added level of healthy comradery and responsibility, potentially relieving the heaviness of accountability during times of adversity. Trust in ourselves enough to have the confidence to trust another with our insecurities and insufficiencies. They have unknown knowledge and possibilities to add to the journey.
And evidently blogs are supposed to come to an end, so if there was to be one this would be it. Instead I wish you the best of luck backed by boundless encouragement in attaining your goals going forward. This isn’t an ending, this is the beginning…