“Every man should be born again on the first day of January. Start with a fresh page. Take up one hole more in the buckle if necessary, or let down one, according to circumstances; but on the first of January let every man gird himself once more, with his face to the front, and take no interest in the things that were and are past.” ~Henry Ward Beecher
Well, here we are on the brink of a new year…again! I am pondering and praying, perhaps as you have been, all the possibilities. It got me thinking maybe in my ancientness, I might have a few bits of wisdom to share. Or not. You’ll have to read to see, won’t you. Ahem. Read on for my momentary brilliance…or lack thereof.
- Set Realistic Goals. I traipsed around the gyms, fields, and locker rooms long enough to know that setting the bar high inspires a few and paralyzes many. Whether your goals are for work or personal life, the bar needs to be set progressively higher…in increments. Rome wasn’t built in a day and if you think success will parade into your life with a “step this way” sign and a smile, as my boys like to say- you’ve got another thing coming. Let’s give an example. You drink three cups a coffee a day, two sodas and maybe a cup of water to wash down your vitamins (or Motrin as the case may be). Maybe. You want to increase your H2O consumption so you decide January first you will go from zero to eight glasses, BAM…just like that. Perhaps you succeed…for three days, maybe more, maybe less. But, week two, three and four, are hit or miss. I know some of you younger folks like that crack the whip stuff. But old habits die-hard, and new habits don’t come easy. My suggestion would be to build success by incrementing it up progressively: Week 1: 1-3 glasses a day; week 2: 4-6 glasses a day; week 3:6-8 glasses a day and so on. This allows room for flexibility and success which increases the chances of a positive outcome long-term. You can do this with almost any habit or goal.
- Don’t Make a Mountain Out of January. January is one of twelve months. Each month is like a series of molehills. Molehills are much easier to maneuver than mountains. Pile the molehills up at the end of the year and you’ll realize you’ve climbed a mountain!
- Neil Armstrong Moments: “That’s one small step for (a) man, one giant leap for mankind.”...well, if one small step is good enough for Neil Armstrong, then it should be good enough for you this coming January! Granted he was on the moon, I know. But, let’s be honest, some days your life feels like you are on another planet, right? This counts for something, doesn’t it? SO, baby steps. Grace. Patience. Remember Rome, and Neil Armstrong as you plan and attempt to hit the ground running this year. Progress sometimes comes in baby steps, sometimes giant leaps…and in some seasons, even crawling will suffice.
- Pick a Partner: Pick one friend and one area to partner in for accountability, support and encouragement in the new year. Whether it’s for spending, exercising, personal growth or whatever the behavior, habit or hobby you want to move forward in, or be held back from. Pick a partner and define your parameters, make a plan of checking in and enjoy the blessing and benefit that come from moving ahead in mutually desired goals and aspirations.
- Resolution Solution: At Panera Bakery you can walk in for lunch and the menu has a “You Pick 2” option, yes? Well, for this option for 2016- think of it as the same, only you pick One to focus on each month. Ideally you can set a few goals or resolutions you’d like to work on during the new year, but the key is to really prioritize one a month. If you choose 6 areas you can repeat and prioritize twice overall for the year. If you have more areas you can either go through and reassess mid-year OR just prioritize two to focus on monthly. Again, the goal is to get you in the habit of breaking down that Resolution Mountain into manageable molehills and keep you moving on your merry little way toward a Happy (ish) New Year!
- About Eating Elephants and Skinning Cats: No, just no. Please, do not give me any Resolution advice that includes details about how to eat an elephant. Because, THAT”S JUST GROSS! Also I do not condone the skinning of cats in one or multiple ways…so back off with that nonsense. Listen, there is a whole lot of New Year tips coming your way about now from here, there and everywhere…step back , take a breath and relax. Back to Rome with you. Grace, Patience…and no elephant or cat haters allowed. Don’t forget Neil Armstrong…One small step daily…hey, there you’ll have it, just like moon jumping. But, even Neil Armstrong had to start somewhere. He probably crawled first as well. So, keep that in mind come, say January 15th…or 30th, and beyond.
- Build on Your Past/Recent Successes: Make a list of those small and large victories from last year, and use them as a springboard and reminder for those days when you need to remember. Once you hit a bump in your Happy New Year 2016 Trail, you can take it out to remind yourself you are not a loser. Because once you hit that bump and decide to camp out in Pity Party Alley, you will need a reminder. You’re Welcome.
- Invest in Others: Be a cheerleader to someone. Or many someones! The best thing you can do is teach, support and encourage another along their journey. Just being available for prayer, friendship, or a shoulder for another is such a worthy time investment. Helping others not only is exactly what we are here for and what we are called to do, it will save us from drowning in a pool of self-pity and/or self-sufficiency! We are NOT enough on our own…we need one another. No lectures or preaching here. Just the facts. Jesus said it and lived it. I’m sticking to it.
- Walk the Dog, Make the Bed: It’s the small details of the day that have the power to make or break you. So often we start at the big stuff. But, the details hold within them the power to build tiny muscles of strength in our mind. These choices send a tiny message to the brain, “I can”. Those tiny messages are like spinach to Popeye. They empower us. So, walk the dog, make the bed, clear the counters. Or find one thing you can do daily to get building your “I can.” muscles. Pretty soon, just like Popeye, you’ll be popping your Biceps and chuckling away, adding, “I can and I will.”
- Cultivate Contentment: Look around with eyes of wonder and gratitude. Guess what? I assure you, if you are reading this blog, you are immeasurably blessed. You have access to a plethora of possibilities. Don’t let them overwhelm or sidetrack you. Be thankful for the little things and you will be satisfied. When life doesn’t measure up to our expectations, we can rest assured, knowing we have a God who exceeded ours in one victorious sacrifice.
Well, I hope you enjoyed this little list of tips for the New Year. I would love to know what you think, what tips you have for a Happy (ish) New Year this year!
Stay tuned for Random Journal Day this Friday and some wonderful Journal, Planning and Devotional Posts in the days ahead! Oh, and I will be sharing some thoughts about My One Word for 2015, and the new word impressed upon me for 2016.
Best wishes for a Happy New Year, friends!
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