We are here again – the dawn of a brand new year. If you are anything like me, the recent year-end period has been a jolly but chaotic time. A season filled with multiple gatherings with loved ones, maybe a little holiday break away, a mad rush of Christmas shopping and an ambitious to-do list before the year ends.
What does that leave us with when it comes to goals and resolutions for the year ahead? Here are some ideas for you parents out there, and anyone who would like to start the year as best as possible.
Try something different – start your new goals in February
If you think about it, is the end of the year really a good time to pause and reflect? With such a heady mix of celebrations and merriment, I prefer the time when things have died down, and we are left with some semblance of peace and quiet. For me, January is the best time for reflection and preparation. I set a No-Shopping Goal last year, but it only began on February 1st, 2017. It was the best thing I did, because I used the whole month of January to truly think about what I wanted to achieve, and to prepare myself mentally for the task ahead. With no rush and fanfare, goals-setting becomes a relaxed, reflective and deliberate affair. Think about the month of January as an administrative, preparatory month, and you may find that you are more than ready to start afresh for 2018.
Talk to the main person or persons in your life about setting a mutual goal
It could be your husband, wife, partner. It could your best friend, sibling, parents. Sometimes goals-setting is not just about you, it is about creating the best possible environment in your life, and that involves the main people in your life. If it’s to do with physical fitness, mental health or even leisure and travel, this could be something meaningful and fun to do with a loved one.
Every end of the year, I sit down with my husband for chats to reflect on the year past, and what we would like to accomplish together for the year ahead. Recently, we decided our mutual goal is to be more mindful of the time we have with our children. If we are with them, devices or gadgets should not be around. We know this is going to be a tough one to implement, so we have tried to put it in as simple a way as possible – we are going to treat our mobile phone use like smoking. If we need to use our phones, we will treat it as needing to go somewhere else (or outside) to ‘have a smoke’. This rule of thought works for us because we are ex-smokers, but it helps to discuss realistic and uncomplicated ways for you to help each other achieve this goal.
Think of realistic goals, and go easy on yourself
It is worth it to treat yourself with care and consideration when it comes to goal setting for the year. You may find it is easier to achieve your goals if you have a sense of humour about it all. My husband set a certain target of kilometres to run last year, but he did not achieve this – mainly because we had a newborn and he was very busy as a hands-on dad. “Oh well, I’ll recycle that for this new year!” he said.
When I faltered at my No-Shopping Goal by buying some nail polish a few months ago, some friends thought I would give up on the goal completely. But it helps to just laugh at yourself, note the failure, and continue persevering on your path. Beating yourself up about little setbacks along the way makes goal-setting unrealistic and unsustainable.
Don’t be afraid to use tools to help you out
Plenty has been said about the good or bad of social media use. But it can serve you well when it comes to goals-setting. Whether it is detailing your efforts in a blog, or detailing updates once in a while on Facebook or Instagram, friends’ suggestions or encouragement about your goals can really keep you on the straight and narrow. Obviously, some updates are more annoying than others, so don’t be surprised if you turn a person or two off by posting about your fitness exploits every day! If you’re afraid of sounding like a major #humblebragger, perhaps you could keep your updates private or limited. Or discipline yourself by writing only on a particular day, weekly or monthly. Personally, I find that people are kinder and more encouraging when they know your goals are about something meaningful and worthwhile, and not just about benefiting yourself. So if your goals are #sexybod2018 or #moremoney2018, don’t be surprised if people ignore you or laugh – unless that was your intention to begin with!
Remember to include relationships in your goals
It is easy to always fall back on the usual goals – lose weight, get fitter, read more and the like. It is far more interesting to try other kinds of goals for the year. Do you want to be a better friend to someone? Want to try and make a difference in a stranger’s life? Would you like to write to your godchildren more? Or perhaps be kinder to a person you always seem to nag or scold?
Make the goal, keep this one secret, keep it sweet. And reflect on how the relationship has changed through the year. It’s easy to slip into self-absorption and consumerism in this day and age. A goal like this can serve to remind you about what is truly important in life.
From the makchic team and I, Happy New Year! May 2018 be a wonderful and meaningful year for all of us and our families. Good luck and have fun with those goals!