Some Thoughts for the New Year

I have never really been a fan of making New Year’s resolutions.  Don’t get me wrong, I think that it is extremely important to set and achieve goals for yourself.  However, I don’t think that you should have to wait until the beginning of a New Year to do so.  I think that we should be setting new mini-goals for ourselves every day.  The key thing to remember though is that they must be practical.  One thing that I am really guilty of is setting these huge goals for myself (be healthier, be a better person, etc.), but having no plan in place to carry them out. I think this is part of the reason that I am against New Year’s resolutions. Every year on January 1st I’m up and at ’em with these grand ideas of success, change, and contentment. And then it’s January 2nd. And then it’s January 3rd. And then it’s December 31st and I find myself far from that change and success I was looking forward to. I’m sure many of you can relate. So what do we do to make sure that this New Year’s Eve we will be standing with our heads held high and genuine smiles on our faces? Here are some ideas:

1. Have a plan
I cannot emphasize this enough. You can have some of the greatest ideas in the world, but if you don’t have a plan in place then there is absolutely no way that you will succeed. I’m not saying that you need to have an elaborate blueprint of the year to come. What I’m suggesting is something along the lines of if you’re going to lose weight, how are you going to do it? If you’re going to spend more time with your family, what will that consist of? Being too vague with your goals can often cause them to seem too overwhelming or cause them to be very easily forgotten.

2. Take it day by day
This is somewhat along the lines of my previous suggestion, but it’s a little more specific than that. Choose a goal that you know you can work towards every day. You’ll be surprised how when you focus on the individual days instead of months, you start to see progress in ways you wouldn’t expect at first.

3. Be realistic
The thing about goals is that in order to be considered a goal, they have to be achievable. If you’re setting a goal for yourself that you know deep down inside is not going to happen then that is considered a fantasy. Instead of saying you are going to completely stop doing something, eating something, etc., maybe you could instead say that you are going to do it less. And on the flip side of that, instead of saying you’re going to do something everyday simply make an effort to do whatever it is you want to do more. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to gradually do something as opposed to trying to do it all at once. For example, part of my New Year’s resolution last year was to eat healthier. A smaller part of that was to eat less fast food. By the end of the year I hadn’t had fast food in months, and the idea of eating it did not sound appetizing at all. It never really crossed my mind that I was going to stop eating fast food, especially because for so long I ate way too much of it. But I consistently ate less and less and sure enough it happened on its own.

4. Be positive
Nobody is perfect. I’m not, you’re not, nobody is. So if one day things don’t go as well as you had hoped, or you find yourself doubting your goals it’s okay. There are 365 days in a year. You can mess up 180 of those days, and you will still have been successful a more than half of the year. That alone is something to celebrate. You have to be patient with yourself. Remember that you are setting these goals and making these resolutions for yourself, not for anyone else. So don’t let anyone discourage you, and especially don’t discourage yourself! Nothing is going to happen overnight. Never give up.

5.Reward yourself
This in my opinion is the most important part. It also happens to be my favorite. Have a big reward in mind for yourself at the end of the year or whenever you feel that you have finally met one of your big goals. But even more important than that is to reward yourself along the way. Celebrate the little victories. Five pounds gone may not be the thirty you were hoping for, but it is five pounds closer than you were before! Take the time to acknowledge the progress you have made and use it to motivate yourself to keep going.

Like I said at the beginning of this all, I don’t enjoy making resolutions specifically for the New Year. That being said, I really wanted to write this blog post and how hypocritical of me would it be to be giving advice on goals and resolutions when I don’t even have any of my own? So my big resolution is to be a better person. When I put it like that it probably sounds incredibly cliché. So more specifically, I just want to continue to mature both spiritually and mentally. I’m getting married this year, and as fun and swell as that sounds, marriage is not something to take lightly. It’s a lifelong commitment. I’ve always been mature for my age, but I definitely have a lot of work to do in terms of becoming a wife. My specific goals are to continue to grow closer to the Lord, be wiser financially, take better care of myself, and learn to cook something besides scrambled eggs. Of course there are so many more things I need to work on with all of the changes I have coming up this year, but those are more on the private side. More than anything, I guess my prayer for myself this year is to always try to think and act with the grace, patience, and love of a Godly woman. (Thankfully, I have a Godly woman or two to look up too and help me along the way!)

I really do believe that if you allow it to be, this year could be the new best year of your life. All you have to do is believe it too.

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Walk, Don’t Drive

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Tonight I had the pleasure of being able to walk through the local “Christmas Tree Lane” with my wonderful sister and fiancé.  Though I have driven through a couple different Christmas Tree Lanes in past years (once a few years back with my parents, once last year while living in Fresno), there was something about walking through it with the two people I hold dearest to my heart that really sparked something inside of me.  Call it holiday cheer, call it the Starbucks kicking in, but tonight was definitely something special.

As we were nearing the end of our magical journey through this lovely neighborhood I heard a parent near us tell their child that they had reached the end and it was time to go home.  The child, being rather young, didn’t want to leave.  They whined and begged to stay, and upon hearing this I couldn’t help but smile.  Had I been walking through this winter wonderland of sorts at their age, I probably would have done the same exact thing.  When we are young we wish magical and beautiful moments like that could last forever.  Maybe it’s something as remarkable as Disneyland, or something as simple as Christmas Tree Lane, but there is something special about these places that spark a feeling in our hearts that is so unbelievably rare and magical.  As children, we want these moments to last forever.  We want it to be Christmas every day of the year and we want to live in Disneyland forever.  But as we get older, we realize that it’s how rare these moments are that make them so special and memorable to us.  When I was young, adults would tell me that if I got to go to Disneyland every single day it wouldn’t be special anymore.  To this day I do have my doubts about that statement, however they make a valid point.  We took a week long trip to Disneyland when I was ten years old, and as much as I loved that vacation, I couldn’t tell you much of what we did everyday.  It all blends together in a blur of music, junk food, and rides.  However, there is one specific moment of that vacation that I remember so vividly and beautifully.  I remember watching the fireworks over the water in front of the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride.  I remember being so entranced by the combination of the dramatic music and the lights over the water.  But most of all, I remember out of the corner of my eye seeing my dad look at me with the biggest smile on his face, because even though I didn’t know it then, he knew a beautiful memory was being formed in my mind, and he got to be a part of it. 

Days come and go. They begin and they end, usually with nothing remarkable happening in between.  But within those days are moments.  Moments that stand out from others, and it is in these moments that we have the opportunity to create memories that will last forever.  Had Eddie and I simply driven through Christmas Tree Lane tonight by ourselves the way we had originally planned on doing I’m sure that it would have been fun, but as the years went on it likely would have blended in with and eventually gotten lost in all of the holiday memories that are to come.  But at the last minute we asked Christa to come with us.  We decided to wear silly Santa hats and get Starbucks and listen to Christmas music on the way there.  We decided to go through the neighborhood by foot as to not feel rushed and to be sure we had time to fully take in the sights that this community works so hard to create for us.  Because we made these decisions, tonight’s adventure won’t just be a moment, it will be a memory.  When I look back on it I will remember making jokes about how long it would be until Christa tripped, as she was prone to do.  I will remember Eddie and I almost crying because of how hard we were laughing at her irrational fear of smooth jazz.  I will remember our deep discussions of antiheroes and villains in classic Disney movies as we walked back to where we had parked our car.  I will remember the music and displays that we were able to stop and admire and might have missed had we drove on by. 

This time of year it is so easy to get lost in all of the holiday shopping, planning, and rushing to get everything on our to-do list taken care of.  It is easy to forget what this time of year should really be all about.  Years from now you won’t remember who you forgot to send a Christmas card to.  It won’t matter if you didn’t have time to make that extra side dish for dinner.  What will matter is that you took the time to step away from all the craziness and spend time with the ones you love, that you chose to walk through this season with the people that matter the most to you instead of driving through so fast that no lasting memories were formed.  The days will come and go and the moments will fade with time, but the memories will always be with you, tucked safely into the corners of your heart.

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