By: Summer Brons
With the end of January on the fast-approaching horizon, we’re at a logical checkpoint to assess our progress on all those resolutions we set just a few short weeks ago. In the face of a promising new year, it’s easy to hold our heads high and jot our lofty ambitions down on paper (or scrawl them across a keyboard), confident that THIS will be the year we refocus and really buckle down on the pursuit of our dreams. “2011? What a joke! 2012 is going to be MY year,” we say to ourselves, a confident grin spreading from ear to ear.
So…reality time: How are things going so far?
Whether your goals are centered around health, work, home, family, or even a simple vow to spend more time doing absolutely nothing at all – it’s easy to fall off the wagon if you’ve set the bar too high for yourself. We tend to be results-driven creatures with a love for instant gratification, disregarding the concept of a step-by-step process. This explains why many resolutions are discarded (or forgotten completely) before we’ve even it made it through the first quarter. Folks throw in the towel because all they see on that list they wrote on December 31st are statements like, “lose 40 pounds,” “get a promotion,” “spend more time painting.” These are all great things to strive for, but where’s the plan of action?
The road to weight loss is paved with consistent exercise and a balanced diet. Instead of getting frustrated because the scale isn’t registering the numbers you’d like to see each morning, break the process down into bite-size chunks. You didn’t gain the weight overnight and you’re not going to lose it overnight, either. Figure out what steps you need to take to put yourself on the path to losing those 40 pounds and go from there. At first, your success may be found in getting to the gym four times a week and bringing a healthy lunch with you to work instead of eating fast food each day. Next, you’ll see success by realizing you’ve dropped five pounds. And guess what? Five pounds turns into eight turns into 15 and so on until one day…you’re at your goal weight! But be realistic, because it’s not going to happen by default just because you slapped a shiny “RESOLUTION” label on the idea and you happened to notice it’s nearly the end of January.
The same goes for your other goals. You want a promotion at work? Great! Figure out how to best position yourself to catch the eye of your boss and make them think of your name first when that new management position opens up later this year. Perhaps you can offer to take on additional responsibilities, assist coworkers without having to be asked to do it, show up on time (wait, that counts for something?), or…here’s a thought, ask that boss of yours if he or she has a few minutes to spare, then sit down with them to share your thoughts. A well-spoken “I really enjoy being a part of this company and I’m looking forward to future opportunities here beyond my current scope of work. Is there any advice you can give me that might help me along a path to advancement?” can go a long way in garnering respect and displaying ambition. Remember, just like the weight loss intentions, just because you’ve decided you want a promotion does not mean you’re going to walk into work the next day with a corner office and a generous raise, so don’t get discouraged and give up hope when April rolls around and you’re still daydreaming about throwing staples at that loud, obnoxious coworker who sits two cubes up.
Finally, just to round out the few examples I mentioned above, Ms. “I’m going to paint more often in 2012” shouldn’t be prematurely tossing out the oil canvas, either. Sure, it’s wonderful to take time out of each day to devote to creative efforts, but it doesn’t always happen. Besides life getting in the way, sometimes you just flat don’t feel like it. The creative muse can be a fickle thing, so quit beating yourself up if you don’t hit that goal to write 500 words each day or to practice your crochet technique for an hour each evening. Try something more manageable, like blogging three times a week instead of seven, or taking just two photos per day instead of ten to improve your photography skills. If you’ve included your hobby, passion or artistic endeavor in your new year’s resolutions, don’t forget to be just as realistic about your goals in this department as you are with everything else. Very few things happen overnight, bestselling novels included.
Remember, the key is to keep things MANAGEABLE. Don’t stand in your own way with an “all or nothing” mentality. Progress is just as successful as seeing a goal ultimately come to fruition, so use those stepping stones along the way as motivation to keep going and as validation that you’re on the right track. You’re the only one who can make things happen for yourself, which, in turn, means that you’re the only one who can prevent things from happening, too.
So go ahead and take inventory of those 2012 resolutions. If there’s any you’re struggling with so far, take some time to break them down further and create a plan to get from point A to point B…preferably in once piece.