Happy New Year! Another year has come to a close. I would have to say that New Years ranks in my top three favorite holidays of the year, just behind Christmas and Easter. Around the world, people gather to celebrate the end of one chapter and the start of something new. There are fireworks, champagne, and endless parties all focused on the very moment that marks the end and a new beginning.
Naturally, New Years is a time of reflection and goal setting for most people. I do the same, every year. Some years I follow through on my goals and others I do not. Let’s be honest, most years I have not. There were years that I neglected to even set a goal for myself because I hate the feeling of failure that usually comes around early February as I look back and realize that I did not follow through on what I promised for myself. I did not do what I resolved to do. Then at the end of the year I look back and see the areas that I have failed and lack the desire to set a new goal in fear that I will fall to the same pattern that has happened on repeat, year in and year out.
After a few years, stuck in this cycle, I began to make changes. I knew there were areas in my life that I wanted to change and I was sick of the failure, the fear, and the guilt accompanied with goals that I made and any change that I attempted. Through reflection and work I made changes. They did not happen all at once. There was no defining moment. Just a journey. Each journey started with a single step. There were failures along the way and there still are in changes that I made years ago but overall there is forward motion. For each step back, there are at least 2 steps forward. As I sit and reflect on this last year and begin to make plans for new goals this year, I can’t help but think about how and why the changes I have made have been possible. Today I have the rare opportunity to sit at a coffee shop and reflect and plan. Here is how I plan to make changes this year and how I have made changes in the past.
- Live in the present. It is good to reflect on the past, to learn from the past, and to use the past to help plan your future. The past is important. But if you live in the past and you let the past define who you are, you will never be able to move forward. Recognize the areas of your past that have a hold on you. Spend time reflecting and then let it go. Appreciate the hear and now, live in the present and plan for the future.
- Set a goal. A goal should be specific and attainable. Give yourself a timeline and work for it! When setting a goal, think about yourself and focus on your reasons. Ask yourself, what do I want and why do I want this? That way, if you forget what you are doing and why you are doing it, you can look back on your goal and your reasons for starting on this journey.
- Make a plan. A passion without a plan does nothing. A passion needs a plan that is specific and practical. Passions are great but without planning your journey, it will never come to fruition.
- Every journey begins with a single step. Sometimes that first step in a new journey is the hardest. In the first step there is fear of failure, there are feelings of inadequacy, and there are thoughts of all the “naysayers” that have judged or will judge. I recently read this, “You don’t have to be great to take the first step, but you have to take the first step in order to be great.” Every journey begins with a single step – don’t let your fears keep you from making progress.
- Focus on the progress – not the failures. Remember you are only human. There will be setbacks along your journey. There will be moments that you fail and moments that you question yourself and what you have started. Allow yourself to fail but then get back up and start again. It is about the progress, it is about the journey and with each setback you have the choice to allow the setbacks to define you or to become stronger in your journey as the result of your setback.
Change is not easy. It is hard work and it takes commitment. Sometimes it is an ongoing journey, and a life change. But when those changes become a habit you look back, and instead of feeling disappointment and failure, you feel empowered, you feel success, and you feel a sense of accomplishment. For me, I want to make progress. I know that I will never “arrive” at where I want to be, but each day I take a step. Each day I make a decision, and each day I try to be a better version of myself. I am not perfect, but by the grace of God, I am making progress. This year, I resolve to make progress toward becoming the woman God is calling me to be.