By Patricia Johnson
The promise of a New Year is so exciting. We make big plans and lofty goals, hoping to capitalize on the opportunities of an unmarked calendar just waiting to be filled with meaningful commitments and fun adventures. Out with the old and in with the new! But for anyone who has ever failed to complete a New Year’s Resolution, we know it can be difficult and sometimes downright scary to step out of our comfort zone. Make 2018 the year that you challenge yourself, make and achieve inspired goals, and prioritize some fun in your days.
The first step to embracing new things is to brainstorm meaningful ideas. Don’t organize or overthink. Just brainstorm from the crazy — complete the Go Commando Half Marathon in the fall — to the more common — prioritize time with your spouse. Both ends of the spectrum are difficult and take dedication and effort to make happen.
If you have trouble starting, simply grab a notebook and a good cup of coffee and just write. Don’t edit in your mind because you will quickly talk yourself out of every idea.
Flip through magazines or look to your family for inspiration
Do you love looking through DIY magazines but never start, or finish, your own project? Make a short list of those projects you will complete this year. Does your teenager love the outdoors? Commit to exploring some local and state parks this year. If camping is too extreme for you, then try to compromise with hiking or biking some trails to spend some quality time. Is your young daughter very creative? Maybe you can regularly take a class at Guenette Arts and Crafts Center together.
Do some research
If that half marathon sounds good but you haven’t run since high school gym class, you may want to adjust your expectations. Along the same lines, if you want to travel more this year but haven’t saved money to fund this aspiration, perhaps you should set your 2018 sights on Tennessee and Kentucky exploration and not the Galapagos Islands. Do a little research about what it will take to achieve your goals. Challenge yourself but be reasonable.
Write down a specific plan with tangible benchmarks
This is different from brainstorming ideas in your notebook or scratch piece of paper. This requires a little more focus. Use your research to make a specific plan on how to make these aspirations or goals reality. Most importantly, specify your goal.
For example, ‘Be more active’ is not easily measured and does not have specific or progressive checks. ‘Participate in a gym class once a week at Estep Wellness Center’ is specific, easily measured and also gives you freedom to be creative to achieve an active lifestyle.
You can try a variety of classes to see what you enjoy while having the leeway to discontinue any classes you don’t care for while still being on track to achieving your goal.
Now give your list a little ceremony, a little style. Write it with a nice pen and display it where you will see it often like your refrigerator, or type it up and save it as your screen saver. This way you don’t lose it until next December and then realize 2018 completely got away from you!
Grab an accountability buddy
Everything, minus maybe a dentist appointment, is more enjoyable with a friend. Your accountability buddy can be your spouse, kids, friends, puppy, anyone who will make the journey more fun and will encourage you when you get off track or lose focus. Your spouse can help you with meal planning if you want to embrace healthier eating habits. Your kids can help you discover your artsy side. A friend can make volunteering more fun and broaden the list of organizations you dedicate your time to helping. A puppy will not let you skip out on that morning walk. Enlist someone who will support you and be honest about keeping you on track. No need for brutal honesty here, gentle honesty will work just fine especially when you are vulnerable trying something new.
Find balance and have some fun
Have variety in what you choose to embrace in 2018. All fitness-oriented aspirations will leave you burned out and unlikely to persevere until December 2018. Even more importantly, not having balance will likely prevent you from permanently incorporating these ideas or changes into your lifestyle. Try to embrace something new physically, mentally, and spiritually to achieve balance and ensure variety. Set yourself up for success, adventure, and fun in 2018!