The End of One Year, the Beginning of Another

Just because it’s the beginning of February doesn’t mean you can’t start your personal journey for self-improvement. I wrote this a couple weeks ago with the intent of sharing it sooner…but…hey, I’m a work in progress too!

It happens every year. Every December, we sit around and reflect on all the things we did and didn’t do, and we make our New Year’s Resolutions. What were yours last year?

Lose weight?

Go to the gym?

Eat healthier?

Drink less?

Every year for the first two weeks of January, the gym is packed, and our grocery carts are full of healthy items to help us keep our resolutions. Because for what seems like 90% of us (I don’t know what the statistic is so don’t quote me) our resolutions are to better ourselves.

And every year, by the end of January it seems like half of us fall off the wagon.

By the end of February, the rest of us have as well forgotten about the resolutions we made just two months ago.

Of course, there is always the minority that will stick to their resolutions. But often, we hear about failing to keep them. Why is that? Why do we always make these grand plans for the year and then we just give up? We all want to be better, I don’t know a single person who’s not always trying to better themselves in one capacity or another. But what stops us from achieving these things ever year?

Me personally? I’m terrible at sticking with things when it becomes hard. It’s one of my biggest character flaws. Changing my habits is something that’s just plain difficult! Every year I say that I’m going to work out more and eat less junk- those are my New Years Resolutions. And yet…here I am. In 2018, for the first time I actually gained a significant amount of weight. It was a gut punch for me to realize what had happened.

I went for the easy foods and let fitness take a backburner to my life. I took the easy way out and gave up on my resolutions. This last half of the year I’ve done better, but that was a situation change- and not one that I initiated so I can’t claim that I really went back to my resolutions for a healthier lifestyle. I wish I could say I had control over what changed, but I didn’t. However, what I did have control over was my mindset.

I changed the way I looked at things.

Now, I didn’t come upon this on my own. I read a book by Rachel Hollis, “Girl, Wash Your Face”. Several of the women in my life were reading it and it sounded like my kind of book. It was a great read and it helped with a lot of self-reflection. Among other things, this book helped me change my mindset and I can say I’ve been much more positive and introspective after reading it. If you’re looking for a change, it’s definitely worth the read and I highly recommend it.

The biggest thing that I’ve gained from it was how to change my perspective and learn some accountability for myself. Which brings me to how I’m going to enter into the new year.

This week I asked my husband about what goals he wanted to accomplish in the coming year. That was it. Instead of asking what his resolutions were, I asked what his GOALS were. I gave him a few days and asked him to share with me, and I shared mine with him. Both of us had very specific things in mind for what our goals were, not just these ambiguous ideas that our resolutions usually are.

I can’t speak for him, but I am far more excited about working toward a goal instead of a resolution. Don’t get me wrong, I know they’re the same thing. But the difference is that I’m telling myself that I’m working towards a goal and not keeping a resolution.

Let me say that again: I’m working TOWARDS a goal and not KEEPING a resolution.

There’s an end-state to both, sure. But having a goal helps shape the plan that will get me to that end state. You see, I’m a planner. When I’m at home and in control of my surroundings, I put everything on a calendar, I make lists, I meal prep. Knowing what the week is going to bring makes me happy and soothes my anxiety. I do not like surprises. Resolutions don’t mean anything to me (sorry to those that it does) and I always struggle to take that resolution and create a plan to get there. But if I have a goal in mind, I can see the path I need to walk to get there.

For example, one of my goals next year is to take the GRE and get a good score. My immediate thought goes to this: what do I need to do to achieve that? Well first, I need to get a study book and begin working my way through that. Then, when I’m back home I’ll need to pick a date to actually take it. And between those two steps, I’m going to have to start taking practice tests and preparing for test day. And then, come what may and whatever the score I get, comes test day and I’ll have achieved my goal. And just like that, I’ve created benchmarks and reduced my anxiety about the coming year because if I achieve this goal, I’ll be able to set other goals in motion.

So as we round out this year, take a couple of minutes to reflect on what the year looked like for you. If it wasn’t everything that you hoped it would be, identify the things that you can change and take the first step to changing them. Whatever that step may be, end 2018 on a high note and get ready for 2019 because it’s literally right around the corner. Remember that you are in control over your life. The choices you make today create the life you live tomorrow.

Happy New Year.

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