Writer: Briana Whiteside
As we near the end of 2017, many are preparing their New Year’s Resolutions. For some this may include getting in shape for summer 2018 and for others it may mean leaving a long-term situationship. Whatever the case may be, the end of the year generally brings a sense of reflection. If we’re honest, some of the resolutions we made at the beginning of the year didn’t quite make it to the end of the year. Why? Why didn’t we follow through with everything that we set out to do at the top of the year?
If you’re anything like me, you probably set big goals for yourself. In your mind, you believe that you can accomplish anything, but fail to consider the cost of the dream. You may holdfast to Philippians 4:13 which reminds us that you “can do all things through Christ who strengthens,” without accounting for your flesh that threatens to stop you every step of the way. Now this is not to discourage you in any form, but to reveal a possibility as to why many of us are not finishing the year as strongly as we could.
This is why I stopped making resolutions and started making decisions with strategies for them. I was tired of setting huge goals at the beginning of the year only to lay them down by June and reason that “there’s too much on my plate.” Even more, I was irritated with the constant reminder that I let myself down…again.
When we get caught up in the hype of the New Year, sometimes we forget that we are bringing our old selves along for the journey. This is where it gets tricky because while we have the intentions to do better, we have not changed our mindset. In essence, you cannot change your situation without altering, or even abandoning, the former ways in which you’ve perceived it. You cannot continue to flirt with the mentality that hindered you this year or in previous years. With this in mind, perhaps you should abandon your resolution and decide to strategize towards your goal.
Here are a few tips:
- Write the goal— Ok now, this may seem like a no brainer but it’s really essential in the process of decision making. Sometimes seeing something on paper brings a new, more concrete, awareness to it.
- Ask the hard question (why?)— I have previously set goals for myself that I thought I really wanted to accomplish. However, it wasn’t until I started asking myself “why” that I realized—more times than not— I wanted to accomplish the goal because someone else had done it. You can probably assume that I never successfully achieved these goals because the foundation on which they were constructed was not authentic. So, ask yourself “why” this goal is important to you with the hope of not only reaching a more realistic understanding, but gauging your positioning with it.
- Write the first step—After you’ve written the goal, you should now engage with it. Ask yourself, “What is the first thing that needs to be done to help me get to the end?” I find that if you write the first step then you’ll more than likely begin to understand what is required of you in order to reach it.
- Bring it into community—This may require a little more thinking. When I’m determined to accomplish something, I bring others in on the journey. This means that I ask people to hold me accountable for my actions or lack thereof. Attention: the friends you choose to help you in this process should not have a history of pacifying your dysfunction, but they should be as invested in your growth as you are.
- Do research—Knowledge is your best friend when you’re trying to do something that you’ve never done before. As an active researcher, I’ve learned the power of information gathering and vetting. While not all material is helpful, if you’re intentional, you can find what works for you.
- Apply the knowledge—The common misconception is that knowledge is power. That’s just like telling someone who eats fast food every night that it’s causing them to gain weight and they do it anyway. Does this mean that they don’t have the information? No. It simply means that they aren’t applying it to their lives. While they are equipped with the power to change, if they don’t make the decision to do so then the information is in vain. Therefore, you must apply the knowledge.
Ultimately, when we are thinking about change in any situation, we must first plan to succeed. This may require us to ditch the resolution and start choosing better goals accompanied by strategies.