Happy New Year!Adeshola Ezeokoli
There is nothing magical, spiritually significant, or special about the first day of January except the significance that we ourselves attach to it. I like to remind myself that the Gregorian calendar is man made, and was a reform of a previous calendar( the Julian calendar) which was itself a reform of the Roman calendar . There are also many different calendars( the lunar calendar, Igbo calendar, Hebrew calendar, the Chinese calendar, the famous Mayan calendar, etc) in use, side by side with the Gregorian. What this means is that the first day of the year can actually differ, depending on which calendar you are following(Chinese New Year, anyone?) The point I am making is that you do not have to “make new year resolutions” ; you do not have to fall into despair at the end of the year; and you do not have to wait until the first of January to make the changes that you need to make in life. If you need to make changes, make them right away. Do not have an attitude of winding down at the end of the year. Keep on living your life the way you should, no matter what time of the year it is. If you keep life as a continuum, you will not fall into a sad state on 31st of December each year.
The first of January is a convenient time to set goals, and, the span of a year is a good time to review those goals you set( depending on what they were).Do not however get so hung up on the 1st of January “thing” that you miss the big picture.
Here are a few tips for setting goals and seeing them come to pass:
1. Set goals: This may seem obvious but you have to actually set goals for what you want to accomplish. What does it meant to set goals? This is not mere wishing. For instance saying, “I wish I could lose some weight” is not a goal. It is just that, a wish. At the end of the year, if you do not lose the weight because you never set a goal to do so, do not be surprised. There are long term goals, eg “I want to sell 10,000 copies of my book by June”. There are short term goals eg “By next week I want to have cleaned out my garage”. If you do not set any goals for your projects, tasks, and other things that you want to accomplish, you will find that time has gone by and those things just did not happen. Nothing just happens. If, for instance you want to save $1000, it cannot just remain a thought, a want or a wish. It has to be a goal.
2. Set realistic goals: Only you can know what is realistic to you. For instance, a goal to save $100,000 by the end of the year may be realistic to someone who is a millionaire but not a struggling student. Goals that are too extreme set you up for failure and disappointment. It is better to “underwhelm” yourself than overwhelm yourself. If your goals are not realistic, you will not attain them anyway. They will just fall into the category of grandiose wishes. For example, it would be unrealistic for me to set a goal to pay off my house in one year. I know that. For another person, it may be within the framework of reality. As a person of faith, who prays and believes God, you should still set realistic goals even while you pray and trust God, for grace to help you stick to your goals as well as for supernatural help.
3. Be specific: “I wanna to lose some weight” is different from “I am going to lose 10 lbs in the next 6 months.” Do not be vague. A specific goal is measurable while a nonspecific one is reduced to the level of a mere wish.
4. Make plans to achieve your goals: If you want to lose 10 pounds, join a gym, eat more healthy foods. If you want to change careers you may need to go back to school. If you want a better relationship with God you will need to spend more time in prayer and the Word. If you want to be a better doctor, you may need to attend more conferences.If you want to write a book you will need to pick up a pen( or laptop or iPad) and start writing, probably a page each day……make a plan.
5. Write it down: Written words definitely have more power than when they are just thoughts in your head. Write your goals and look at them everyday. It will keep you on track. Modify your goals as needed, in writing not just, “in your mind”.
6. Stay focused: Life happens. You have to stay focused, keep your eye on the prize. Motivation should primarily come from within and not without. Surround yourself with similarly focused people. If you stray from your goal, do not sit, wringing your hands and moping until the next January 1st. Three months ago someone approached me about setting goals for working on a project, come 2014. I smiled and made some polite noises. I was thinking, however, “Why not discuss it now? If we have no reason to wait, why wait three months for January to roll around?” Remember, whether you do what you have to do or not, time is inexorably and unrepentantly marching on. You have to develop in yourself the capacity to focus and stay the course. Granted, some people need more work in this area than others, but you can do it!
You can set goals at any time of the year and have a time frame for your goals to come to pass. Some goals, by nature of what they are, may not be year long, they may be longer, even lifelong. So friends, set your goals, set your self on the right path, and you can start today.
HAPPY NEW YEAR!