It’s hard to believe it, but we are almost a full two weeks into 2023! The secular New Year seems to carry a huge theme of new year, new me, goals and resolutions and so it’s the time of year when I talk about the New Year, and resolutions. It’s just a good time to do it, at least for me, though honestly, goal setting and resolutions can be done at any time. Samhain is traditionally a witch’s New Year, and you could also follow along with the Lunar New Year, which is January 22 this year.
I did a blog post last year, and it’s still relevant today, I think. I didn’t set a lot of “goals” in 2022, but I experienced a lot of the things I envisioned. Looking forward, I’ll be doing a lot the same planning I did last year. I’ll be sitting down at some point to create a vision board, listing purposes, and experiences I’d like to have, as well as changes I’d like to make. This year, I do plan on creating actual goals though. For me, January is just a good time for me to do all this. New year, new me, blah blah blah- it works when I really put my mind to it. But it also calls for me to have an in-depth plan, and the right frame of mind.
A lot of people hate the idea of New Year’s resolution, and for good reason. It feels like New Year’s resolutions fail, and fail often. I don’t have numbers on this, and nor do I care, because what I think we should focus on is not that so many New Year’s resolutions fail, but asking why so many of them do.
I have a few theories on this. The biggest one is that we start out all GUUUUN HOOOOOOO and start our goals out with a sprint. Thing is- a year is a marathon, and sprinting the whole way is not the best of ideas. We lose steam, and before long, our goals are in the waste bin. I know it’s happened to me a lot- sometimes I can go into a new year, ready, and committed, only to peter off relatively quickly because I dashed without a long term plan.
Which brings me to my second thought- not only are we starting off at a sprint, there was no planning- there’s been no training, no “working out” and no addressing underlying health issues that are going to literally prevent us from working at full capacity. Stamina is low, and quite frankly, we can be like squirrels who spotted something shiny. We didn’t plan on how to address obstacles, struggles, low energy, distractions, and feelings of discouragement.
This isn’t a good start because when making resolutions, if your goals are too big, or too many, or if we charge in headfirst without a plan of action, we’re more likely to fail. One of the first things I recommend, other than starting off with smaller, more attainable goals that you can build on, is having what I call the potential obstacle list.
This is exactly what it sounds like. A little of all the potential obstacles that can get in the way of your goal. Let’s say my goal is to walk 100 miles this year. That’s a fairly large goal for someone who doesn’t leave the house often, and who doesn’t walk daily. Sitting down and really thinking about what can and does happen to prevent me from taking those steps out the door helps prevent excuses, and it makes things easier. Maybe the list is easy- like scheduling it in my bullet journal, putting my sneakers near the door, and laying out my walking clothes the night before.
Maybe it’s harder- like what happens when the weather is lousy? What if I’m feeling depressed and just don’t want to walk? What if things get in the way, like appointments and previous obligations? All of these things can be addressed with some planning. If the weather is lousy, I’ve planned to go to the local college gym, and walk on the indoor track. I’ve created a few pages in my bullet journal with incentives for walking instead of wallowing, the important of mindset change (example- knowing that in the past, walking has helped me feel better), as well as certain playlists to walk to on my phone- extra cheerful, or even ones that help transform my apathy into something inspiring.
As for appointments and previous obligations- for me this was a matter of simply rescheduling- can I go earlier, or after, or letting it go. I know there will be days that I walk more- hikes in the summer, trips and visits to places that lead to walking a few extra miles- I know I’ll get there. This is where patience and faith in myself comes in. It’s important to set rules and boundaries for yourself, but it’s also important to not be so rigid that you break. Self-compassion is a form of self-care- and unless you absolutely know that you need to be as strict and disciplined as possible in order to succeed, I don’t recommend that sort of limitation placed on yourself. Everyone has bad days- bad days are human days, and accepting that, and working with re-framing your mindset is going to help you be successful.
And it makes me think that there will be a post about mindset, as well as maybe a post about goal setting in the near future. Until then, however, don’t be ashamed, or afraid to set some realistic new year’s resolutions, or not- do what’s best for you. But remember, if you are unhappy with things, change is a good thing. It’s not easy, but not doing anything doesn’t help either.