Reflect on the Past and Set New Year’s Goals
Isn’t it exciting to start a brand-new year? This year has the double number 20 which seems like an especially new beginning just like when we entered the millennium. Do you remember the thrill – and the panic – of heading towards Y2K? It’s hard to believe we’re already 20 years in.
There’s been quite a few changes in my life and a lot of adjustments.
Like many of you, I joined the ranks of the retired. I joyfully welcomed 5 grandchildren. Sadly, there were losses too – both my in-laws, father, nephew and son.
We also moved from our 5-bedroom home in Calgary to a tiny apartment in a tiny town in the Okanagan.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? Usually these are things that we would like to change that we think will make our lives better. There’s a sense of hitting the reset button to create the best versions of ourselves and living the life we love.
Resolutions seem to be very similar from year-to-year – exercise, lose weight, quit smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, get organized.
But I have to warn you. About 80 per cent of New Year’s resolutions fail by mid-February.
To be successful get an app. There’s a mobile app that can help every resolution. They can track your progress and coach you through the process. If you have a competitive nature, find an app that is shared by others – your new buddies.
Don’t give up too easily. Forgive yourself, move on and keep trying.
A time for reflection
The new year is a good occasion for reflection.
It’s important to take some time to reflect on the past, so we’re better able to tackle the future. How did you do last year? Think about what worked in your life and what you’d like to do better.
What areas of your lives do you want to improve? What are you still working on? How’s your progress? What were the highlights?
- Think about who was important in your life. Have your friendships changed? Are there issues you need to address or resolve? Do you need to apologize? It’s a great time to strengthen key relationships as you go into the new year.
- Did your priorities change? Is there something that seemed so important last year but doesn’t really matter as much now? On reflection we can see how our hopes adjust over the course of the year and what we worried about never came to fruition.
- What were your biggest challenges? We all have a few struggles. How did you handle them? When we view the world as unfair toward us or out of our control, we become victims of circumstances. Don’t allow yourself to be a victim.
- It’s also essential to celebrate your accomplishments. What were the best events of the last year? Did you go on any trips? Did you create great family memories? This is a great time to get your photo and mementos sorted and organized. It’s tough to remember details after several years have passed.
- What were your biggest surprises? Surprises – even positive ones – can derail our routines and throw us off track. The best we can do is prepare and prevent them whenever possible. Schedule your doctor appointments, keep up on preventative home and car maintenance, and tuck away savings for a rainy day.
Don’t hang on to regrets. The New Year is full of potential. Let your reflections be your guide to set a strategy for the year ahead.
“Nothing is sweeter than doing nothing, but nothing is sweeter than looking back and saying that we have done something worth our time.”
Set some new goals
I like to open up my brand-new calendar with all those blank pages that aren’t yet cluttered with commitments. It’s wide open for new possibilities.
It’s easy to get stuck in a rut. Look at all areas of your life. New choices make a new life. Set goals not resolutions. Goals need focus to keep you motivated. Things don’t magically happen on their own and writing them down isn’t enough. Be crystal clear about what you want and you’ll be so motivated that you’ll do whatever it takes to stick with it. Without action goals are only wishes.
Break your goals into categories.
- Financial goals. Update your net worth statement. Look back on your spending patterns of the past year. Were there unexpected expenses, whether misfortunes or nice surprises? You may need to adjust your budget this year. Are there going to be some “one-of” expenses you want to prepare for – a new vehicle or a long-awaited trip? If you have a spouse or partner, set aside some time this month to have the money talk and see if you’re still on track to meet your financial goals.
- Interests. We all have things we’d like to have or do – new hobbies or activities, a new musical instrument – or a boat. Put them on a priorities list.
- Relationships. Make a commitment to spend time with those closest to you. You may want to make a concerted effort to meet new people and be more outgoing.
- Physical. It was easy to take your physical health for granted in previous years. Now you must make an effort to go to the gym or do other forms of exercise. Set nutritional goals too.
- Experiences. These can be travel related, or entertainment, or any experience you would find rewarding in the coming year.
As we go into 2020, I encourage you to have goals to shoot for regardless of your age or place in life. How will you challenge yourself this year?
Related: A New Year Brings New Possibilities
Think bigger this year
Most resolutions and goals tend to focus on changing behaviour – exercise more, quit smoking, get more organized (I know – been there, done that). But while those are admirable, they’re quite boring, no?
Be inspired to set yourself a HUGE, awesome goal. What’s your big dream? Chances are there’s something inside of you, some deep desire that’s silently screaming for you to finally acknowledge it. Something that makes you tingle with excitement whenever you think about it. Is it volunteering for a year in Haiti? Cruising to Antarctica? Writing a children’s book? Finally getting your Masters degree? These are also the dreams we talk ourselves out of.
Self-help gurus call that negative talk “limiting beliefs” – the things you tell yourself that keep you from pursuing your outrageous goal. I’m too old. I’m not smart enough. It’ll take too much time, effort, money. What will people think?
Write down your goal and figure out what would be your first step. Maybe its visiting Mr. Google to check out all the possibilities. See what you have to do to start, then take another step and another until you’re on your way.
“The only limits are those we place on ourselves”
The bottom line
Are you ready to accomplish all the things you didn’t get around to last year?
My motto for 2020 is “out with the old.” The New Year offers a great time for us to let go of what’s no longer serving us. This means I will get rid of the clutter in my home and on my computer, organize and clean out all the stuff I don’t need but keep holding on to.
I will also drop those activities that have become more of a chore than a treat, let go of some bad habits and do some emotional decluttering as well (negative thoughts, cynicism, worry).
I hope 2020 will be your happiest, healthiest, and most satisfying year yet.