Happy New Year! Remember: Leave Space for Grace
Kinsey Shumaker, Resident Counselor
“Lose X pounds.” “Quit smoking.” “Read the Bible daily.” “Take up a new hobby.”
Around January 1st each year, a good portion of us decide to set New Year’s resolutions. Typically, these resolutions revolve around health, money, education or spirituality. When you set these resolutions, at the time you are invested and excited; however, as the year goes by, you may find that you’ve forgotten your resolution or aren’t doing as well as you hoped. Take heart in that you are not alone!
One study showed that 22% of people who made them admitted failure after only a week, 40% at a month, 50% at three months, and 81% after two years (Hawkes, 2016). That’s a lot of failure, but don’t let it keep you from accomplishing your goals. The truth is, you can set a goal any time of the year, not just on January 1st. And if at first you don’t succeed try again! Let’s look together at certain guidelines that may help you keep your goals this year:
For most individuals setting goals, less is more. If you set eight goals for the new year, you may find that it’s too overwhelming juggling them all and you may realize at the end you didn’t accomplish any! My suggestion is to decide on 1-3 goals for the year; you can always stagger their start dates, so that you are only taking one on at a time. For example maybe you have the goals to quit smoking and lose weight. These are two large goals just by themselves; one way you could approach the new year is to start off with the first goal to quit smoking. Once you feel as though you have achieved this and are ready, you can move on to working towards losing weight. You may not start this until May or June, but you will find it easier to accomplish goals when you prioritize and schedule them!
Set small goals that are easy to accomplish within your one big goal. For example: “I will save $20 each week” Is much easier to manage than “I will save $1000” this year. If you set vague, long-term goals such as this, you may find it tempting to push something off by saying “oh, I’ll save twice as much out of my check next time” or “I’ll replace what I took from my savings with the next check”. These small goals will allow you to feel pride in what you are accomplishing, and by saving a little each week you are inching closer to your goal.
Specific & Measurable
Set specific goals that are measurable as this will help you feel confident that you have accomplished something. “Becoming confident” is a great goal to have, but it may be difficult to evaluate your progress during the year or at the end. So, set goals that are specific and measurable! For example, you might set the goal of: “Making two new friends by the end of this year”. This goal is specific and easy to measure. At the end of the year, you look back and see if you achieved or exceeded your goal.
Don’t compare yourself to others; you are only in competition with yourself. As individuals, I have found that we have a tendency to compare ourselves to others, and rate our successes based on what others have accomplished. A professor once told me that we are harder on ourselves than we are to others. What an unfair way to treat ourselves! If your goal for the new year is to lose weight and you lost 2 pounds, you achieved your goal. Regardless of how much your neighbor or your friend lost, you succeeded in losing weight.
Leave Space for Grace!
And finally, leave space for grace! Grace is defined by Merriam-Webster as “the quality or state of being considerate or thoughtful”. You live a busy life, filled with schedules and deadlines to meet. You may have children to raise, or others depending on you for care. Leave space in your heart and mind for grace if you should fall behind or fail to meet your goals. No goals are required to make you a worthy, loved individual. No goals are required to make this year a great year. Just resolve yourself to find happiness despite the circumstances you may face and stop each day to count your blessings. Happy New Year!
Hawkes Nigel. Sixty seconds on . . . New Year resolutions BMJ 2016; 355 :i6845