I could never wait for New Year’s Day to start thinking about resolutions. I know some people hate resolutions, but I love them. I loved thinking about where I was and what my goals were and how I was going to get there. So usually, when the chaos of Christmas had settled, usually in the wee hours of the 26th or 27th, I would look back on my journaling or memories and reflect on what the year had been, where it had taken me, and where I wanted it to go.
Some years, the reflection was hard. It would include incidents or comments or outfits that just embarrassed me and shamed me to my core. But other times, just by reflecting, I could see the growth that I had made, sometimes unintentionally, and that would help cement the direction I wanted to go in for the following year.
I love taking the time to reflect and ask questions that we usually don’t have time to sit and think about. Big picture questions, direction questions, why questions. And for me, I think the best way to do it is to write it down. Sure, you can just talk out loud, or talk to someone else, but the beauty of writing is that you have to complete just one sentence at a time. Your mind has to slow down long enough to capture that one thought you had three thoughts ago. And when you are done writing that one sentence, it centers you back and you can keep going. Also, I feel like writing really allows your mind to unfold naturally, like a flower blooming. Sometimes I am surprised by what comes out of me. It’s always a treat to take the time to journal!
I haven’t maintained a steady journaling habit since I was single, but I still love the year end reflection that the holiday season brings us. So the questions I will be asking myself this year (and my husband, if he’ll play along) are as follows:
- What do I want to do/be/accomplish in this year?
This is the easy question. I want to do a million and one things that I have pushed from one year to the next- I want to develop a more consistent exercise routine, I want to start meditating, I want to start a consistent gratitude journal, I want to stop spending so much time on social media, I want to stop trying to increase my self-esteem by buying another pair of leggings. Like I said, it’s easy to list out what you want.
- What am I doing right now that I am already proud of?
When you are making an aspirational self list, it helps to remind yourself what you already do! You can think generally (I floss every day) or compare it to the past (I exercise two times a week when last year it was once every other week).
- What am I doing right now that I am not proud of?
In case you skipped something from #1 😉 Not meant for self-flagellation, but if you ask the same question in different ways, you may get different answers.
- How do I want to live my life in the coming year?
This question seems a little odd, but it helps to make your plan to accomplish your goals more actionable. How many hours a day do you want to work? What do you want to spend your time thinking about? How do you want to spend your time? What does your day to day look like?
- How can I meld my goals and how I want to live my life?
This is where the rubber meets the road- where you get into the nitty gritty of how you will accomplish your goals. Does your desired day next year include waking up slowly and drinking coffee in bed? You’re probably not going to exercise five times a week if you are planning on 6 am boot camp. The point of this question is to realistically look at your goals and your desired lifestyle, because to accomplish your goals, they need to be realistic, and not aspirational. The hard part with this question is being HONEST with yourself about what you can do or not do. It has taken me several years, but I have had to learn that I cannot go from zero to sixty. I have written an “aspirational daily schedule” several times over, and whenever I find them stuffed in some long forgotten drawer, even looking at the schedule freaks me out. If I have every minute of the day scheduled down with something productive, where is my moment to breathe? And when I freak out, I shut down and do nothing. So I learned to be gentle with myself, and listen to myself, but keep pushing in the right direction without going too far.
Remember, the best goals are SMART- Specific, Measurable, Achievable (that’s a big one), Realistic (another biggie), and Timely.
The last tidbit I have for you is the most important – do not see a stumble as a failure. If you set a goal to work out three times a week, and you miss one week totally, that is ok! Do not get distracted by the one stumble and fail to recognize the thousands of other accomplishments you did achieve! Be patient with yourself. Improvement is not an overnight process, at least not for me. If you approach yourself with love, you will be amazed to find that your self has been longing for love the whole time. ♥