Happy New Year!
With the dawn a fresh new year many, if not most of us, have big dreams and bold resolutions in hand. (Which radio commentators like to cheerfully remind us we're likely to break within just a few weeks.)
With that in mind, I'd like to share a few simple pieces of encouragement with you (and as a reminder to myself) as we embrace the promise of our clean slates:
1. A dream without a plan is just a wish.
Wanting something to happen is never enough. We have know where we're going and how we intend to get there. If you don't have a clear plan mapped out to help you get where you want to go, consider taking a few minutes to sketch it out somewhere and put it where you'll see it. Ask for help if you need to!
2. Accountability is crucial.
Get a buddy. Share your dreams with people in your life who will support you in trying to reach them. Start or join a support group - even introverts are significantly more likely to reach big goals when they pursue them with others.
3. Use the 20 second rule.
A helpful tip gleaned from several books (most recently The Happiness Advantage). Making an activity more or less accessible by as 20 seconds can be all you need to easily pick up a constructive new habit or to change a bad one. Move the candy dish off your desk to the top of a filing cabinet across the office and watch your snacking habit fall off dramatically. Put your guitar on a stand in the center of your living room instead of in the corner and marvel at how much quicker you are to pick it up. The power of this is amazing - give it a try!
4. Remember that it won't always be a struggle.
I can't remember who originally said this, but the human brain is essentially a collection of habits. When you change habits, you are literally remapping your brain chemistry, which is why it can be so hard! The great news is that once you power through the initial struggle of carving out those new neural pathways, they will become your brain's default mode and what once seemed impossible will be second nature.
5. Be kind to yourself.
Management theory has long proven that working on more than three goals at a time, as an individual or a team, is pointless; there just isn't enough time, attention or energy to go around. Are you trying to do too much? Do you beat yourself up or get depressed when you slip up? You are human, you know! It's bound to happen, and it's okay. Be gentle with yourself and try again. God has given us a new year - don't give up the right to embrace and celebrate it over small mistakes and setbacks!