I am not a believer in New Year’s Resolutions. I think most people set unrealistic resolutions, become short-term crazy fanatics, slip, get back on it and then just fall off the wagon completely. It’s complete insanity. All those gym memberships go to waste, savings accounts stay empty, yelling at the kids commences, booze is drunken excessively, clutter builds back up, nails stay bitten and things just continue on the way they were. In some cases, things get worse and people carry out a major case of the f-its.
I do, however, have what I believe to be an awesome tradition that I have maintained every year for the past 13 years. My tradition is comprised of three parts. Reflection, review and goal setting. The coolest part of this tradition is that the reflection part gets more awesome every year, the more you have to look back on.
First, write down a minimum of 10 accomplishments, things you did or things you are proud of from the past year. The first few years, the actual original exercise called for 20 – I always get afraid that number will scare people away so I just say 10 – but as many as you can think of. You may be surprised once you get on a roll. (Plus, I am a rebel and don’t like to follow instructions all the time). The accomplishment can be anything big or small, professional or personal. Maybe you went on a fun trip, got to see an old friend, got a new job, broke an old habit, exercised more, tried a new food, wrote a BLOG every week for a year (Hey that’s me!) – anything you can think of that is positive from the past year.
Review your goals from the year before. These will be the goals you wrote the previous year. What did you accomplish? What obstacles stood in your way? Did you forget anything on your reflection list? For the goals you did not reach, do you want to try for them again in the coming year?
The next part of reflection is the absolute best for me. My favorite part is starting with the very first reflection list and reading them all in chronological order. This gets better and better with each year and you see how far you have come! I get to see my life journey from getting married, to having a child, to building my professional career. I get to see how things have changed and shifted and most importantly, how I have grown. It is a list of years’ worth of accomplishments and reflections. Really, such good stuff.
The next part is writing down what I want to accomplish over the next year. It is a mix of personal and professional things I want to achieve. Again, some big, some small and some very, very personal growth goals. It can be anything! Losing weight, making more money, cleaning your garage, getting outside more, going on a trip, spending time with a family member, seeing friends, starting a hobby, stopping a bad habit, change in mindset, getting married, having a child, buying a home. Doesn’t matter. Anything goes. It is YOUR life.
I also take a look at what I had on the previous year goal list that I did not get done and determine if I want to add it to the next year. Can anyone guess how many years in a row cleaning out the garage has been on the list? I can still only park one car in the three car garage. Maybe 2017 is my year of the clean garage.
The interesting thing about this step is that I don’t post these goals and I don’t keep them out to look at. Nope. I tuck them away in the same binder and don’t look at them until the next year. Some may think this is weird. How can you achieve something if you “forget” about it? The whole point is to be present in the moment you write that plan for 2017. It becomes part of you. It is whatever you are feeling is most important at THAT very moment. Maybe things change over the year and that is ok. I believe in setting incremental milestone goals through the year too – sometimes things that were not even relevant at the beginning of the year.
I wholeheartedly believe in challenging and pushing myself physically, mentally and spiritually. This is one of the many ways I practice self-challenge and most importantly, self-reflection. We often forget how far we have come. We forget to celebrate life’s greatest moments. We let experiences fade away. This helps me keep all this alive. My daughter joined me in 2012 so this will be her 5th year. Her goals started as things like; no night light, no training wheels, do a cartwheel and grew into — be nicer to my parents, get straight As, sing a solo and book commercials. She has things like go to Hawaii, go to Europe, go on a cruise and get a puppy – those are more to-dos for Mom and Dad, but hey, it is her list so I let her put whatever she wants on there. Try it. I dare you…
Credit Due: I was first introduced to this tradition by a man by the name of Tom Batchelder. I despised him (literally) at the time. I found him annoying and all warm and fuzzy like which was not my style. Don’t worry, he knows this, and since then, he has been a life mentor to me and a good friend. We sort of go back and forth on whose life is messier. Sometimes we have big gaps in the time we connect but when we reconnect its on like Donkey Kong. He has written a pretty cool book, Barking Up a Dead Horse which you can find here. https://www.amazon.com/Barking-Dead-Horse-Business-Business/dp/1598588508
The book is only slightly annoying and mostly SUPER helpful.