As the year begins, we are all hopeful about the wonderful things 2019 will bring. We all hope that we have learned from the previous year and will be better equipped to march into the season with vigor and enthusiasm. I don’t want us to simply say what we hope for in the new year, then leave it up to chance or motivation. Chance is not a guarantee, motivation forever fleeting. So, instead of thinking in terms of grand ambitions, lets break down our goals in daily habits. For example, you want to lose 50 pounds this year. Most people will make the goal and then never truly make significant changes to their diet. Some people will hit the gym hard 6 days a week and burn out after a month. Consequently, they get stuck with a gym contract to a gym they never visit. I suggest that this year, we break down our goals into small realistic daily habits that we can maintain throughout the year.
In this microwave society, we all want results yesterday. We don’t want to put in the persistent grind that it takes to see lasting change in our lives. But the slow and steady approach is what will help us reach the mountain top. If we are honest with ourselves, we wouldn’t make the goal to start running 5 miles a day tomorrow, when we’ve been eating chips in front of the tv for most of the year. Instead, we should begin slow. Make the goal to nix the chips and drink 3 glasses of water daily. When you’ve mastered those habits, add in a new habit. Perhaps, you will cut out carbs for dinner. Now, your drinking more water, not overloading your system with chips, and you’re eating a healthier dinner each night. You’ve already done such a great job, and since your feeling confident about your achievements, you commit to another healthy habit, perhaps getting to bed by 10 instead of 12. In this way, you are changing your habits slow and steadily. You may not lose 50 pounds in 3 months but reaching that feat by the end of the year looks promising. Unlike previous years, where you rushed and burned out long before the goal date and now, you’re fatter than before! Trust me, this has happened to many of us, many times over.
It’s natural to want to achieve your goals as soon as possible, in that way, you can get on with the business of being happy much faster. But the truth is, a large majority of us just can’t change that drastically in that short period of time. We need to be gentle and compassionate with ourselves, and learn to develop our character, so that these goals become lasting fixtures in our lives.
If your goal is to save money this year, don’t be vague. Be realistic about how much money you can afford to save each month. Work on habits that will facilitate this goal. For instance, you want to save $2,400 this year in your emergency account, which is about $200 a month. First go over your income and expenses. Find out if saving $200 every month is feasible. If so, think about why you haven’t been able to save money in the past. Perhaps you buy expensive lunches during your work day; $10 a day for 5 days is $50 a week. If so, you could bring a bag lunch 4 days a week instead, and that would save you $160 per month. Make sure to transfer the $10 you would have spent on lunch into your emergency account each time! This will give you a sense of achievement and you will enjoy watching your money grow so quickly. To save the remaining $40 dollars, examine other spending habits. Perhaps you subscribe to many different apps. Maybe you can buy fewer clothing items or plan free activities on the weekends. There are so many ways to cut spending, it just takes some thoughtful examination and planning. Examine your finances and plan where to cut expenses. In this way, you will not be suffering or feeling deprived. You will be making smart decisions for your future and building new skills in financial management. These skills will take you a long a way in life, and you can continue to build upon them in the future.
In the society we live in, we often feel that we need to keep up with Kardashians’ (or Jones’, whomever you prefer). But the truth is, we don’t have to keep up with anyone. Our obligation is to ourselves. Everyday, we have been tasked with being our own best selves. But it’s easy to lose sight of that in a social media, Real Housewives, Love & Hip-Hop society.
This year let’s take a more personal and compassionate approach with our aspirations. Creating lasting habits will help shape our values and thus, our character. It’s foolish to attempt to create lasting change with temporary solutions. Think about ways can you alter your lifestyle, so that you can usher in a new a wonderful period of transformation and growth. Forget your Facebook life and your other online personas. Forget about sprinting to the finish line, only to pass out half-way through the race. Instead look at your objectives this year like a marathon. Slow and steady wins the race. Haven’t we learned anything from the Tortoise and Hare?
Happy New Year!