So if you’re type A like me, you’re likely starting to think about your 2016 goals before the egg nog is even empty in the refrigerator. I always start by reviewing last year’s goals before I make a plan for this year. I do however want to write this brief note of caution. You are not your past. If 2015 was awful, disappointing, weight-gaining, money losing, or heart breaking, don’t spend too long reviewing it. Turn the page. Time to buy a new calendar and fill it with your future. Your past only serves you as a learning tool. Learn a lesson from it, but don’t dwell on it. 2016 is a fresh new year. One of my favorite quotes is from the Anne of Green Gables books. “Tomorrow is a new day with no mistakes in it.” Go plan for your tomorrows like your past doesn’t matter.
Christmas is time for love, faith, gratitude, family and reflection. Or, it’s not. It’s a time of stress, overwhelming hard work, traffic jams, family strife and navigating a gift giving matrix more complex than Calculus 3.
A few years ago on Christmas morning, I found myself constantly checking my watch. I wanted to be sure the kids were done opening gifts by 10am so I could start cooking the ham, etc. before my in laws came at two……… What it meant is that my mind was always on the next thing. Always working to make sure everyone was happy. The problem was I wasn’t really there. I never enjoyed that moment. I’m sure that everyone appreciated the freshly squeezed orange juice on Christmas morning followed by the homemade apple strudel but I was missing out on the whole holiday. I ran my life like a FedEx logistics manager that never left her job for a second. I wanted more. I wanted to enjoy my holiday time.
What reinforced this perspective change was asking the kids what the best thing about Christmas was. To my shock and little bit of horror it was not he OJ or strudel, but watching Elf while we filled out Christmas cards or helping put the lights up at the grandparents house. No one mentioned a well-honed schedule or beautifully wrapped packages or the intricate Christmas foods.
From this I resolved to be more present in my holiday. Christmas 2.0 was on it’s way. The first thing I did was ask everyone what traditions mattered most. I took note of that. Yes, continue baking gingerbread, driving around to look at lights and watch Christmas Vacation. I also vowed to start freeing up time in the Google calendar. Say no to more offers. No, we don’t have to attend every holiday party we are invited to. No, we don’t’ have to participate in 9 secret santa gift exchanges. No, you don’t have to __________. Give yourself permission to bow out of some things. Just because you’ve always done it is not a good enough reason to continue it. Reflect on the time this will take you away from your own family.
I also thought that rather than my baking being a to do item I should include the kids more. That homemade apple strudel might taste better if some memories were made while baking it. Make sure there is room in the calendar to make it earlier in the week and not at 2am on Christmas Eve.
My ultimate goal in life is to be the best version of myself that I can be. That includes being present with my family when it matters most. Stop looking at your watch and start living. I’m including a free printable to help you get started on revising your Christmas for next year. It’s now that you’ll remember what could have been better.
Merry Christmas for 2016. May it be calm and bright.
The new year is the time when we all gather around, over indulge, and then make radical promises to become the most Type A person you know and swear off all sweets, alcohol and spending money of any kind. Of course by week two you have a tough day at work, console yourself with wine, online shopping and cookies in front of a Netflix watch-a-thon. All bets are off. You might think this makes me one of those people that says that new year’s resolutions are worthless but they’re not. A new year is a powerful time to turn the page. In my world as a calendar-maker, 2016 is literally a fresh start on the paper. Although most resolutions don’t last, some do. Just the act of taking time to reflect on your past year and make attempts to get clear about what you want in 2016 is beneficial.
Where I think the flaw lies, is in the fantasy resolutions. Everyone should take time to consider the type of person you are before you make new resolutions. If you’ve never gotten up early in 40 years of living on this planet, then I would not lead off with plans to start a 4am exercise routine. If you eat out three times per day then perhaps you’ll not start cooking at home like the Barefoot Contessa.
So if you want to cook at home more, maybe start with Blue Apron for one meal per day five times per week. The ingredients are all picked out and sent to you in a box. If you want to exercise, start with 30 minutes per day, 4 times per week. Don’t buy $700 worth of classes at Soul Cycle just yet.
So what to do. Here’s my top 4 suggestions:
- Narrow it down to two main goals. Be crystal clear. What do you want? Working towards world peace, a 100-lb weight loss and $80,000 in debt paid off is a lot. What’s most important to you? Phrase the goal in chunks. Pay of $200 in debt per month. Lost 5 lbs per month. Volunteer at the UN once per month.
- Write down an actionable steps. I will cook at home 5 times per week. I will exercise four times per week. Be careful not to say I’ll be wearing a size 8 by December 31st or I’ll be healthier or thinner or more organized. Too pie in the sky with no real action associated with it.
- List your why. After about 2 to 4 weeks you’re going to get tired, busy and forget all about those goals. I like to start every Monday morning off with a quick check in on my goals. Next to my goals I have written my why. Why did I want this for myself? Why was this goal so important to me January 1. I make bulleted lists of my why so that when my enthusiasm in waning, I can find my passion again and get it going. The why will reaffirm your decision.
- Keep reflecting on your progress. There are lots of ways to keep on top of goals. I paste my goals into a repeating Google calendar appointment for 8am every Monday. I’ll get a reminder and email that contain my goals. I take a few minutes to pause, reflect and retune. Goals are a process not a box to check off.
If you need a template or want to start your kids off on goal setting check out my New year’s Resolution Journal. A great keepsake to see how your goals progress over the years.
Plan your life, not react to it. Have a wonderful holiday and spend some quality time thinking about your 2016 goals.