Making the Most of the New Year

Happy New Year!

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Avoid Feeling Overwhelmed

There is something about a new year that holds excitement and a renewed interest of doing something good for ourselves. Why is it? Is it because of not meeting the previous year's goals? Or perhaps regretting some bad choices made? For others, the end of the year can be a stressful time, filled with a hesitation to embrace the new. That area of uncertainty that awaits can prove daunting.

However you look at it, the new year always puts things into perspective. We have 365 days to begin a daily task - whether reading the Bible, improving our diets, staying on task at work, or developing our relationships. There are only 52 weeks in a year, which means any weekend tasks we might have, we only have to accomplish them 52 times. And since there are 7 days in a week, 5 of those being the typical work-week, there is always room to plan at least 1 or 2 days in the week to commit to certain duties to accomplish all year. When broken down in this manner, the year doesn't seem as complicated!

A fresh start is something we all crave, no matter how well our lives are going, or how much we deny it. The month of January itself is a good starting point for anyone's goals. Don't sweat it, though, if you did not plan ahead and begin any goals for yourself to start on January 1st. The very fact that you WANT to make any changes in your life is the first step. Then it's up to you to take a look at your schedule to see where you can implement those tasks, no matter what month or week you start. Lastly, you must start DOING. It's not enough to SAY you are going to do XYZ...the results are in the actions. And the best way to do that is by making yourself accountable by tracking your activities in a journal, planner, notes app, or list of some sort on your mobile device, memo board, or on paper.

Tips for Sticking to the Plan

  1. Don't overbook yourself. It is easy to say that because there are only so many hours in a day, days in the week, etc. that you can take on everything hour-by-hour, because your day planner has openings. All that does is burn you out and make you stressed. Instead, intentionally leave blanks to your schedule, and find time to unwind on a regular basis, so you don't feel cheated.
  2. Break your tasks and goals down into smaller ones. Start with basic activities and work your way up. Mastering skills or tasks should be a gradual thing, or else you'll get frustrated more readily and quit without giving yourself a chance to get used to something new.
  3. Purge, declutter, reorganize. Whatever you call the act of weeding out the unnecessary items in your life has both physical and mental benefits. It truly is amazing how physical possessions can hold us back in more ways than one. Much like keeping a schedule clutter-free, removing physical obstacles from your life is also something that everyone needs to do on a regular basis to: avoid having too much stuff, maintaining cleanliness and orderliness needed to find that which you do want to keep, and banishing the lie of "I can't" that prevents people from achieving full potential. Even if it's just one shelf or drawer or box, the immediate mood boost from purging out old and making way for the new serves to show you what you are really capable of no matter the limitations you may face. Creating such tasks in between your other goals will also keep you moving forward - a trick to keep you accomplishing things and more alert to opportunities around you. NOT to conflict with point #1, but to help you focus on your priorities so that nothing goes by the wayside or is put off until last minute, so that you actually end up with pockets of free time in the long run!
  4. Celebrate your successes. As you achieve milestones, plan for some fun - something that is a special treat for you. When you reward yourself for something you've been able to do, it makes you empowered to do more and feel better about yourself.

What Goals Do You Have?

There is no right or wrong way to set goals. Think of them as tasks ranked by priority, and you won't get hung up over them being "resolutions." Some of the best lists this author has seen have been with the concept of mapping out a handful of types of personal goals to accomplish based on the categories of entertainment, health, hobbies, family and friends, home, and work (or school, church, or other).

Example: Avoid decreeing lose weight and replace it with exercise X minutes a day X days a week. From there, you can break the goal down to avoid burnout with these micro-goal ideas:

Monday/Wednesday/Fri - walking/jogging/running for 15-30 minutes (start small and work your way to increasing your duration each week so you build the habit and know how much time you can really afford to spare each day).

Tuesday/Thursday - weight lifting or toning exercises 10-30 minutes (ditto indications).

Saturday/Sunday* - (or other days according to your preferences) Free days to focus on mental health activities and rest, and/or hobbies or time with family/friends.

When mapped out that way, you give yourself some realistic and achievable goals to work toward without feeling like you are cramming it into your busy schedule. You also see how one manner of activity works to support the rest, thus making it more likely you will keep doing it!

If exercise seems too cliché, here's another type of example:

Cleaning the house is such a vague and often tireless litany of chores that must be done in one fell swoop and makes you waste a day. Replace it with tasks per room, or tasks you can do each day to benefit each room in some way so that by the end of the week, you don't have more to do. How? by picking specific days for specific tasks. Get ready for some multi-tasking!

Sunday - cleaning the tubs/showers.

Take it a step further without overtaxing yourself by also laundering your clothes, shower curtains and bath mats or area rugs while you clean; and since you may have time to spare, go ahead and mop the floors. Then, when laundry is finished, fold, and put everything away and you can even reward yourself by a nice soak in your clean tub with fresh-smelling towels!

Or, how about washing dishes? If not done daily, they can pile up fast! Truly, it only takes a few minutes after each meal to wash dishes, or put them in the dishwasher and run the load every other day or so. After hand-washing or loading the dishwasher, clean the kitchen sink and countertops, and then do the same with all the other sinks and countertops in your home.

As you can see, it's all about investing your time and doing so at your own pace to still achieve maximum productivity. The best part is, as you complete each task, you can check them off or cross them out, and will be amazed from the very beginning how much you have had the power in you to do by having a plan! When year-end comes, you will be ready to tackle the next one that much smarter!



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