As we come to the end of a year, many people are in the process of making complicated lists of how they will be better next year. New Year’s resolutions are tradition, but they often leave people filled with guilt. Most people realize at the end of December that their resolutions for next year will be thrown out the window by February, but they still make them every year. We curl our cursive or scribble our print across the top of new paper: 2018 Resolutions. Then we jot down lots of amazing goals that would make our life SO much better.
If you are like me, the excitement of making that list of resolutions lasts maybe one day (if I am lucky), and the perseverance to complete the tasks lasts maybe one month. So last year, I tried something different. Surprisingly, it worked. It actually worked ALL YEAR LONG.
Crazy, right?! So instead of making numerous resolutions that I never quite accomplished, I attempted something that actually resolved my problem. My solution to the extensive list of unachievable resolutions was simple: write twelve smaller goals.
Now, I had tried making smaller goals in the past, but they always seemed to be quickly forgotten or not make enough of a difference. So I tried to stretch myself while still make a goal that I could accomplish in one month’s time. You might have figured this out with twelve being such a specific number, but I decided that I was going to accomplish one medium-ish goal each month of the year. This kept me focused throughout the month to attain a goal, but did not overwhelm me with trying to get better at lots of things all at once. Because I was focused but not overwhelmed, I actually finished my goals in 2017!
Just to give you an idea, these were my goals (in no particular order):
- Learn how to braid hair
- Get a map and go on a road trip
- Stop my caffeine addiction
- Reconnect with five old friends
- Make five new friends
- Regulate my sleep schedule
- Share the Gospel using the Three Circles method
- Write a journal to my future self
- Pray every day for a month
- Quit picking at the pimples on my face
- Finish my IMB (International Mission Board) application
- Go walking more than once a week
After making this list of twelve goals, I would randomly choose one goal each month and work to accomplish it. These goals lead me to find new breakfast routines, grow with a new community group of girls at my church, revolutionize my prayer life, speak in chapel at the school where I teach, and take a crazy adventure to Louisiana right before a hurricane made landfall. Although these goals did NOT make me a perfect person or lead me to continual happiness, I found new life. I found that living a life while seeking God’s purpose brings peace and joy. I found a feeling of success without a feeling of guilt and failure.
An added bonus to one-goal-a-month process was that doing the same action for everyday started to form habits. (I had always believed that it took thirty days to form a habit; however, some studies suggest that it takes longer.) Regardless of the science, I know that doing something like going to sleep at the same time for thirty days helped me to keep doing that action after the thirty days were done. This bonus of helping me form new habits made it easy to not only accomplish goals but also maintain the new way of life after the goal was accomplished.
Here are a few suggestions to help you write your goals:
- Make the goals measurable so you know when you have accomplished them
- If you have a big goal, chop it into smaller, achievable goals
- Think of multiple areas of your life that you want to improve (i.e. work, family, health, financial)
- Consider what would improve your daily and long-term life
- Add some fun!
Twelve mini goals may or may not help you, but I just had to share because I wish someone had taught me this sooner. What’s the worst that could happen? You could end up giving up on your resolutions by January. But that would just be life as we know it and no big shock. What’s the BEST that could happen? You could end up with a life headed in a positive direction. So give it a ponder, what are your twelve goals?