From Here to There: Goals for 2021

From Here to There: Goals for 2021

When a new year starts, many of us see this as an opportunity to start fresh. We have grand plans to change something significant in our lives and vow that THIS year, I will finally . . . (fill in the blank). Soon after January begins, we have forgotten what we were so determined to do and we fall into our usual behaviors. Why does this happen?

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.

Without careful planning, it is very difficult to make changes to our lifestyle. It isn’t difficult to do, but many of us forget to do this important step.

Research: When setting a new goal, the first step is to do some research. Look up some tips, tricks, hacks or articles that can give you some advice about the best way to reach your goal.

For example, if I wanted to quit smoking, or learn how to organize my closet, or buy a new puppy, the first thing I would do is research and educate myself on the best way to accomplish it. You may find some invaluable insights that will help make this journey easier or quicker. You may also prevent yourself from wasting time by trying things that don’t work. Take notes on what you discover about your goal.

Plan: Now that you have done some research, you are ready to make a plan. Decide what works for you. Write out your plan so you have a guideline to follow.

For example, let’s use the quit smoking goal. You have researched many options and you decide to see a doctor, get a patch, and allow yourself one year to reach your goals. That’s your plan. Let’s say you want to buy a new puppy. After your research, you decide on what breed is best for you, made a list of supplies you need, and choose a training schedule to follow. That’s your plan.

Step-by-Step: Once you have a plan, break it into tiny, achievable steps. How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.

Continuing with the quit smoking goal, your first step might be to set an appointment with your doctor. Your second step could be to make a list of questions to discuss at that appointment. Another step could include throwing away all your cigarettes. And so on.

One Day at a Time: Just like we must take one step at a time, we also must take one day at a time. When we are working towards a challenging goal, it may become discouraging when it is so difficult. At those moments, just remind yourself that you just need to focus on that one day. Tomorrow, do the same.

For example, quitting a habit that perhaps has been part of your life for years, isn’t going down without a fight! You may slip up and that’s okay. Just get back on your plan and start again. Often when people are dieting to lose weight, myself included, we slip up and eat that chocolate cake! At that point it is easy to throw up your hands and give up. But don’t. Just start again.

Accountability: Try to find a partner that will either go on the journey with you or at least support you on yours. You are still, first and foremost, accountable to yourself but it is nice to have someone cheering for you along the way.

Be careful though when two of you are trying to stop smoking or trying to lose weight. If one of you falls off the plan, it may take the other off the plan as well. So think ahead and decide what you will do if your partner chooses to keep smoking or stop dieting.

Reward Yourself: Create a list of rewards for each accomplishment you achieve along the way to your goal. It is important to celebrate yourself and your hard work. These rewards need to be enticing enough to make you want to earn them.

Here are some examples of rewards: eating at your favorite restaurant, buy that new item, take a bubble bath, visit a friend, buy a new item of clothing, indulge in a favorite dessert, etc. Of course, rewards should not sabotage your goal, such as eating chocolate as a reward for losing 2 more pounds or buying a new lighter if you are stopping smoking.

Have Determination: Winners never quit, and quitters never win. If you quit, you will not reach your goal. It is that simple. Even if you mess up a little or don’t stick to your plan perfectly, start again. Start as many times as you must as long as you don’t give up! You will get there if you keep trying.

One thing that might help is to create a reason for your goal. Often people lose weight before going on a cruise in the summer. It isn’t the best for keeping the extra weight off unless you make some real lifestyle changes, however, it can help you to be motivated in the beginning.

You don’t have to wait for next January to make changes in your life or reach your dreams. You can set and reach goals throughout the year, each month, each week, or each day. Keep your life moving forward by following these steps each time you want to set a new goal. You are worth the effort to attain all your goals in life!


Featured photo by Dawid Zawila on Unsplash.

I’m in Control

I’m in Control

My fingers were crossed, awaiting the stroke of midnight. For some reason, I hoped that the start of the new year would magically turn around the issues of 2020. But no surprise there! January 1st only brought a new day, not a new perspective, and not the end of a pandemic.

The pandemic isn’t just affecting people’s physical health. It is permeating all aspects of life: financial, emotional, spiritual, social, occupational and intellectual. People’s opinions are raving, and tensions are high. Watching the news is really depressing right now. I am overwhelmed because it feels like my world has become so hostile.

I found myself reacting to grocery carts being pushed in front of me, and cars honking because the light turned green a fraction of a second before I hit the gas. I become impatient when at the store because I feel the urgent need to get back home. The stay-at-home order sounds peaceful compared to dealing with all that.

When I find myself in an uncomfortable situation, I like to make a two-column list of “things I can control” and “things I cannot control.” So, here is what I learned from making my lists.

Things I Cannot Control

  • I cannot control if I get the virus.
  • I cannot control how my body will react to the virus.
  • I cannot control how other people choose to act during this pandemic or otherwise.
  • I cannot control if other people wear their mask and are careful concerning the spread of the virus.
  • I cannot control if stores and/or services are open or closed.
  • I cannot control if people want to see me or not see me.
  • I cannot control if other people allow me to have my own opinion.

Even though this list seems obvious, it felt really good to write it down. Once we have identified what we cannot control, it is essential to identify what is in our power to control. This allows me to see how much I am in control of myself and my personal space.

Things I Can Control

  • I can control how I am eating and taking care of myself. Am I exercising, taking vitamins, eating my veggies?
  • I can control how I will respond and act towards others. Just because someone is rude to me, doesn’t mean I have to be rude in return. I can spread kindness instead.
  • I can forgive others for their behavior. I gave everyone a “pass” during this pandemic. At the beginning, my anxiety was high, and I know I am not proud for stocking up on toilet paper or lashing out during a heated conversation or being impatient. I needed a pass and I am giving out “Get Out of Jail Free” cards too.
  • I control whether or not I want to wear my mask. I wear my mask most of the time. I choose not to travel. I stay at home. I am not upset if other people do these things because we all need to handle the pandemic the best way we can.
  • I control how much I want to socialize. The hardest part for me is not seeing my family. Some are strictly staying at home, and others are going out occasionally. Even though it is hard not to see my family, I can only control what I do.

Making these lists helped me to understand that each person has to do what is right for them and I have no control over what that is for someone else. I like just being concerned for what I choose to do. It helps me to be compassionate and understanding when someone else makes a choice that I disagree with.

Hopefully during this new year, we will see the end of the pandemic. But even if this continues for a while longer, remember that each of us gets to choose for ourselves how we will respond and react to each other and the situations we face. Turn the focus on ourselves and not pointing fingers at other people. We each control ourselves!

Featured photo by Miguel Bruna on Unsplash.