A New Year Begins

The New Year is now upon us and if you are anything like me it seemed to have almost of came out of nowhere and left as soon as it arrived. I simply cannot believe that it is 2018 already and yet here we all are. As many of us are like to do the turning of the calendar bends our vision towards the future. We gaze out upon that dim horizon, trying to scree what our futures may hold and how best to achieve them. While I believe that we can start a new dream at any point and time throughout the year, many of us are particularly fond of starting new goals at the beginning of each year.

Hope is in the air. We make lists, take up hobbies, and put forth plans to make life changes. We buy new exercise equipment, self-help books, new tools for new trades. We arm ourselves for success and step out into the world ready to achieve our dreams but without a plan on how exactly we will achieve those goals. By mid-year, most of our goals will be abandoned, cast aside with all of the other failed resolutions and dreams.

This month, as usual, we will take a look at what can be done to increase the odds of achieving your goals in 2018. Let’s start with the basics first. What are our goals? What do you want to do? Run a 5k? Find a new job? Lose weight? Learn to bake? Write a book? I will often equate a goal with dreams, which is part of the reason we talk about them every January. Sometimes a goal is a smaller step towards our dreams. Sometimes it is as large and grand as the dream itself. There are few distinction between the two. Both require effort and dedication. Neither one will be accomplished on their own. Some goals must be done every single day. Others can be accomplished after a few classes or workshops. A goal is whatever you have set your sights on but it is not something easy. If our goals were easy we wouldn’t need to set aside effort, time or money for them. When we set our goals we are setting out to do what we once thought we could not. Shouldn’t we then be as prepared as possible for the road ahead?

There are three key aspects one must consider when setting out to achieve their goals. No, it is not how much money you spend, or how much you really wish to be a better dancer. You need more than a fancy piece of equipment and more than just brute-force effort, our goals need more than that if they are to survive. First, our goals must be specific, the more specific the better. I want to run a 5K this year, you can bet I am setting my sights on a specific race in late spring to aim for. This gives the goal a foundation instead of a line in the sand. Our goals must also be attainable, I want to lose weight, but I know that I cannot lose ten pounds in the first week unless I stop eating altogether (even then it’s dicey). Finally, a goal should be measurable, some people have told me they want to be a better person in 2018, while commendable, is not something that can be reasonably measured. What is better? Do you do more service projects? Will you track mood swings? Something measurable must be found within your goals this way you can see how close, or how far, you are to achieving what you set out for.

The path towards our goals will be one fraught with temptations, failures, and minor successes. Since we cannot know what that dim horizon holds we must try to arm ourselves mentally for what may lay ahead. Without a specific goal in mind, one can’t possibly pursue it to the best of their abilities. Without a course of action, you won’t know what to do. And without something to track your progress, you won’t know if you are actually heading towards or away from where you want to be. Let this year be the year you hang onto and achieve your goals. Let this year be the year you chased after your dreams and won. You don’t have to wait for a time or a place, start now.

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