There are those who greet each New Year with gusto, setting lofty goals, brimming with energy and “up-and-at-’em, Uncle Scooby” enthusiasm about all the things they’re going to do and going to get. Then there are those who REFUSE to set resolutions, telling themselves and others that they exist above the fray, not needing to get caught up in the short-lived hype and emotion that surrounds those particular 24 hours between December 31 and Jan 1. Which camp do you fall into? Or do you fall somewhere in between?
What’s the big deal about January 1 anyways?
The television adverts from the beginning of November try to get you to part with your money in exchange for food, toys, cars and did I say food? Then immediately post December 26, the adverts shift gear. Gym memberships, diet plans and “healthy foods” dominate, leveraging the natural internal shift that happens as one year ends and a new one begins. There’s nothing magical about January 1. Heck, if you lived in Ethiopia or China or Iran, you’d likely be using a different calendar from our Gregorian one, and your own new year wouldn’t even have started yet! But there is something about the winding down of one year that lends itself to reflection. Immediately preceding the new year in our neck of the woods is the celebration of Christmas (or Hanukkah or Kwanzaa) which is characteristically a feel-good time of year where family celebrations, gift giving, loads of good food and social events proliferate. It’s a time to exhale and celebrate and so what better time than the end of the festive season and the beginning of a new year to dust off oneself, review plans, set new goals and start again. Ain’t nothing wrong.
Been there, done that…
So you’ve made resolutions in the past and haven’t made good on them. You’re not alone. Don’t let that be the reason you shy away from reflecting on what you want to accomplish and recommitting to those goals and dreams. Disappointments do that us, you know. They make us afraid to try again. Disappointments make us afraid to trust again. They make us afraid to hope again. We figure that with no expectations, there can be no disappointment.
“I used to be afraid of hope: what if it didn’t come to pass?” is how my sister Abby started a Facebook post at the end of 2019. Do you understand where she was coming from? I know exactly what she meant. I think being afraid to hope is very similar to the fear of failure. For if you hope or if you try, and you don’t get the desired outcome, we somehow equate that with feelings of unworthiness and crushed up self-esteem.
So HOPE and ___________ !
Yes! Take the hope and build on it. You do this in two ways: you hope and PLAN, and you hope and PRAY. This is a personal post borne out of my own experiences. I have found faith to be a great enabler, allowing me to hope and persevere even when the likely outcome seemed dodgy and completely at odds with the reality staring me in my face.
But let’s go back to the first P, PLAN. Imagine you decide to go to the beach tomorrow. You’ve made a resolution to go to beach, right? Yay! You’ve announced it on social media. You’ve told those around you. Tomorrow comes and you realise a couple of things: you can’t find your swimsuit, you’re low on gas and you have no money on you. Oops, there goes your resolution to go to the beach. Was your resolution “wrong” ? Were you unworthy of a beach trip? Will you never resolve to go to the beach ever again?
If you’re a rational human being, you’ll simply plan another beach trip. This time you’ll find your swimsuit, get your car checked out and go to the ATM the day before. You’ll make a plan that supports your beach trip resolution.
Let’s bring this closer to home with a resolution that many, many people make at the beginning of each new year: “I’m going to lose weight.” What makes this year different? How are you going to lose the weight? What’s your plan? Are you going to simply try the same things that you’ve not succeeded with in the past and hope for a different outcome? I could do a whole blog post on this, but the point I want to make is simple: your resolution has to have a workable, feasible plan to underpin and support it. Otherwise, it’s simply a wish. You’re better than living your life merely wishing. Yes, it starts with a wish. Don’t let let it remain a wish, though.
The 5 Second Rule
There’s a school of thought that posits that we have exactly 5 seconds between desire and action, that all it takes is 5 seconds for our own minds to convince us why our desire is a bad idea. The trick to overcoming our own best saboteur (our own wonderful brain) is to simply decide. I spoke about the 5 Second Rule here. Click on the link and scroll to the second video entitled: The 5 Second Rule: Moving from thought to action. How not to sabotage yourself.
Decide, then PLAN
Craft your plan. No, announcing your resolution on social media is NOT a plan. These announcements are part of the hype many of us seek to shun that end up keeping us away from making resolutions and setting goals. I advocate putting pen to paper.
- Articulate your wish. What’s your dream? What do you want to accomplish? What do you want to do?
- What will it take? Money? Time? How much? Will you need to learn a new skill? Will you need a different approach this time? What will it take?
- So how will you get what you need in order to execute your plan? Will you go back to school? Take a new course? Hire a coach? Try a different eating approach? Save $X each month by cutting your clothing or entertainment budget?
Do you see where I’m headed with this? And why write, you may ask. Remember, this is a post borne out of my own personal experiences. There is something about writing that I’ve found very useful. First of all, writing forces me to clarify my thoughts. I am able to work through unclear issues and form a very clear description of what I’m after. Secondly, committing a plan to paper makes it real somehow… like a contract with myself.
Run YOUR race
Social media has more of an influence on us than we realise of than we’d care to admit. Remember this: people post what they want us to know about them. We do it too. It’s natural. There’s a lot of projecting and posturing and posing that takes place. Do not make your plans or form your opinions or set your goals based on what others project. Don’t. Get quiet and honest with YOU. Feel free not to announce your dreams to strangers who care nothing about you. That’s not accountability. Make a pact with yourself first and foremost. An accountability partner, someone who knows you and has your best interest at part is a good way to establish accountability. This could be your financial planner, your spouse, a workout partner, a health coach or your best friend, depending on what it is you want to achieve.
It’s already way past January 1. So What?
So the new year has come and we’re well into it, and there you are, not giving voice to your dreams & your goals because you’re afraid to hope, because you are anti-hype and refuse to get caught up in the shallow frenzy of good intentions being shared almost competition-like on social media. Or did you set a goal that you’ve already stumbled on? So. What. What do you want? Do you have a plan? Do you have an accountability partner, someone with your interest at heart?
Is weight loss your goal?
Is weight loss your goal? What are you going to do differently this time? Exert more will-power? Be more disciplined? Eat in moderation? Exercise more? If you’re anything like me, none of the above will work. Weight loss is only one type of worthy goal that many of us set at the beginning of a new year, and it is one that I know first-hand about. The thing is, I didn’t make this resolution on January 1. It was actually August 28. It was a Thursday. And I simply decided, made a plan and found a way to eat that saw me not having to depend on will-power and doing the nigh unto impossible for me, eating in moderation. It simply never worked. I tell my story here, if you’re interested. And I offer my services here if you want a guidance and an accountability partner.
So my sister Abby, at the end of 2019 expressed her fear of hoping. But she didn’t leave it there. Here’s how she continues and ended her musings on hope:
“I used to be afraid of hope: what if it didn’t come to pass? Then I learned a new promise from God this year, that has been there all along but I missed it: ” hope will never make you ashamed”. All because of God’s love. Romans 5:5. So, hope on. To 2020, to a lifetime of Hoping, afraid maybe but hoping anyway.”
Make those resolutions. Do it now. Make that decision. Have faith that you can do it, have faith that there is help for you even when you don’t feel able. Make your plan. Find your accountability partner. And give it a go.