The start of a new year brings with it a wake up call, a promise of a fresh start, and a desire to make the positive changes that were neglected the previous calendar year. And despite the mixed track record of New Year’s resolutions, they are annually made with the hope that they will somehow be different this time around.
"I want to become an athlete of influence!"
At their heart, New Year’s resolutions are an admirable, albeit flawed, way of becoming the best version of ourselves. However, most resolutions are positioned for failure before they ever begin. For instance, the lofty goal of losing a certain amount of weight or doubling personal savings usually minimizes the heavy lifting required in the daily grind. It’s the old cliche, “How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” And because most New Year’s resolutions are abandoned before February arrives, rarely are they given the proper time and the daily discipline to be developed fully into habits that bring about positive change.
Nonetheless, for the athlete as well as for other individuals, resolutions and goals are, in part, what drive success. Goals provide a target to shoot for and a path for prosperity, which, according to Proverbs 29:18, are the principle catalysts in facilitating success, “Where there is no vision, the people cast off restraint; but blessed is he who keeps the law.”
So as you tackle the new year, what’s the proper mindset? Set goals, fully realizing that there’s a high likelihood of failure, or don’t try at all and be guaranteed of not achieving your goal? Maybe there’s another perspective needed.
As Scripture is clear about the need for wholehearted effort (Colossians 3:23), what lies below are a few tangible considerations to help increase the chances of the “success” of any goal:
Daily seek God’s guidance through prayer and Bible reading, as this is where truth and value are ultimately found.
Determine the “why” behind your desired goal. Once you come to grips with the why, you’ll be able to lay out a way.
Be mindful of what you listen to, watch, and scroll through because we are influenced, for better or worse, by what we consume.
It’s been said that, “Five years from now, you’ll be the same person you are today except for the books you read and the people you meet,” so surround yourself with positivity.
Write goals down. Something incredible happens when you put your thoughts on paper.
Hire a coach or find an accountability partner, because advisers help us succeed (Proverbs 15:22).
Should you initially “fail” at your stated goal, allow yourself grace and try again (Lamentations 3:23).
When setting goals, be sure to utilize the SMART outline:
Specific — Clear focused intention accomplishes more than broad general goals.
Measurable — Define what “success” actually looks like.
Attainable — With small steps, over time, you can walk a mile.
Realistic — Don’t try to change the natural laws of gravity.
Time based — When you see light at the end of the tunnel, almost anything is achievable.
As nearly half of one’s daily routine happens without a second thought, be sure to adopt and inject structure that helps set you up for success.
Margin in life is a good thing. Don’t mistake busyness for productivity.
Many health-based goals are better positioned for “lifestyle changes.” Said another way, life is rarely a sprint, it’s usually a marathon. Make positive changes that are sustainable.
Bite-size goals tend to lead to long-term success. Since endorphins are released upon achievement, we are encouraged by proverbially moving the needle forward.
Many people find value in reward-based positive reinforcement. For instance, if you enjoy travel yet are trying to save money, “reward” yourself with a smaller trip — without breaking the bank — after a certain savings goal has been achieved.
Start with the present. While goals are future focused, intention is in the moment. Never underestimate how the future is a byproduct of small changes in the here and now.
Daily identify the one thing which, if accomplished, constitutes a win for the day.
Take action. Don’t fall victim to paralysis by analysis. Whether it’s a book idea, a new workout routine, or a reconciled relationship, you can always make iterations along the way. Don’t let the need to be “perfect” prevent you from making progress.
Simply know the mantra, “Nothing of value is ever easy.”
Remember it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. Be encouraged. As you set aside time for proper goal setting with new reflection, refocus, and resolve, be sure to keep the end in mind. For the Christian, regardless of any new goals, we should maintain the mindset of 2 Timothy 4:7 that says, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” By so doing we will win both in this life and in the next.
Happy New Year!