It’s the end of another year. We are putting away Christmas decorations, returning the sweater two sizes too big, and prepping for a night of partying to various degrees. As we close the chapter of 2017 in each of our lives, we look to the future of what 2018 will bring.
Perhaps you had a rocky year, and you are less than enthusiastic about moving forward. Perhaps you just had the best year of your life and you feel that things couldn’t get better. Either way, you may feel a sense of fear of what 2018 can hold.
A new year always brings out people’s best intentions. The determination to make ourselves better. We set out to lose X number of pounds, receive a certification or degree, or to earn a certain amount of money. All worthwhile goals, but where is the determination come December, February 1, or Jan 15th.
These are usually the first ones to go. Studies have shown that most gym memberships occur in the month of January. Of those, almost a third of them only visit the gym once a week during the first month and are dropped out by the third.
People who are not used to working out or eating healthy find the adjustment hard. Those people think that on January 1 they can flip on a switch and dive head first into the deep end of physical fitness. It doesn’t happen that way. It’s not that simple.
Fitness goals need to be structured. Fitness goals need to be spread out. If you want to eat healthily, then don’t quit ‘cold turkey’ all food that is deemed bad for you. Begin by cutting back, and what’s more important find a replacement. After a little while, cut back more. Ease your way into a healthier lifestyle.
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The same goes for working out. Don’t think you have to go to the gym five times a week and twice on Saturday and work out for three hours. Be subtle. Although, the change that will be most difficult is making the time. While it doesn’t have to be three hours, you do need to work in some time and adjust as you go.
Setting worthwhile goals is not only about setting out to accomplish the important things, but it’s also about learning the discipline of what it takes to make your goals reality and having the determination to do what it takes to accomplish them.
We all aspire to have the perfect job. Maybe it’s the one we are working, but most likely it is not. We simply tolerate the place we are working. Day in and day out we punch the clock and get to work, trying to work as little as possible before we can clock out and head home (or to the gym).
Most of us know where we would like to be; in a better position with our company, in a different position in another company, being on our own and calling our own shots, or even retired with a pretty good nest egg to live off. With any of these, goals need to be set to accomplish them.
As it is with Physical Goals, to accomplish your Academic goals, it’s about making subtle adjustments to get you to where you want to be. If you try and change overnight, then you will become exhausted and not keep up with it. You could also experience things like; people looking at you differently because you come in on time now instead of two or three minutes late, coworkers changing attitude with you because they see you as a brown-noser now, or even you don’t get the recognition for the positive changes you have made.
Another way these goals are like your fitness goals is that you need to know how to stagger them. Don’t try and accomplish them all by February 1, or even December 31. You will have your short-term goals, the ones that can realistically be accomplished in a year, and you will have your long-term goals, the ones where it will take some time to get there.
One of my long-term goals is to write full time. Right now, I am a truck driver in the oil field. My desires do not keep me driving a truck for the rest of my life. I do it, as most of us do, to pay the bills. My goal is to retire from working for a job, to writing as a job. This goal I hope to accomplish in five years, well, for now. I set that goal in October of 2016. AND I am well on my way. This blog is part of accomplishing my academic goals.
Whether your goal is to become a manager or CEO, or if you want to be in a different field or you have dreams of owning your own business, it begins with setting smaller goal, accomplishing them, and then moving on to the next step of your drawn-out plan.
This hits a bit closer to home. Everyone can relate to getting healthy and job advancement. But not everyone is you. You are the one who looks in the mirror every morning and considers who the person is who is staring back. Either we like what we see, we don’t like what we see, or we are indifferent with good and bad thoughts. We know what we would like to be different, we know that if we just changed that one thing about us then we would look more favorably upon the figure in our reflection. And we strive to change that one thing.
Sometimes the changes are evident. Stop smoking. Drink less. Spend more time with family. Other times the changes are less obvious, at least to others. Every day you see that flaw in yourself, and you desperately want to change. This goes beyond the physical and feeling a bit pudgy. It is often a mental state that is lived in and no one knows but the person suffering.
Goals to change who we are, are the most difficult to overcome. Habits that have been ingrained in us that have us bound to making certain choices. Buying that next pack of cigarettes, or case of beer is a hard habit to break. Working that one extra hour or making that one stop on your way home is a difficult cycle to end. Even trying to make subtle changes can be excruciating.
Some personal goals can run even deeper. Deep down to the person we are, or have become. Maybe you are a negative person who always finds what is wrong with a plan or idea. Even right now you are reading this saying ‘it can’t be done, and this is why.’ I used to be a negative person. It took a while, but I have overcome my tendencies to pick things apart. Now for every one negative thing I see, I try and find two positives; BEFORE I open my mouth.
It doesn’t matter if you have an unfavorable outlook on life or if you have been a manipulative person; able to get anything you want by drawing on the pity of others. It doesn’t matter if you feel you are beyond all hope. It does not matter what your age, gender, or occupation is. It doesn’t matter how many times you have failed, or how bleak the future looks; you can make a change.
Change begins with the recognition of what you see your fault is. Next comes confiding in a friend that you are wanting to make a change. Then comes deciding what needs to be done to correct the issue. Finally, you need to follow through with what you decide to do. You have your confided friend as accountability.
Now we must talk about the glue that holds everything together. Having spiritual goals helps you determine what your other goals should be. If you don’t have the spiritual recognition that something is wrong or missing in your life, then you will continue, as always, through the monotony of life with never making a difference. Without conviction in your heart, you do not desire change. Even the recognition of the lack of anything spiritual in your life is a spiritual conviction. And that is a good place to start. It creates desire.
When you desire more out of life, the one place you should begin with is yourself. And I don’t mean anything on your personal goal list. That will inherently change as spiritual goals are developed. I mean yourself; as in your heart. Who does it belong to? Yourself? Your spouse? Your children? Family? I will tell you something, every one of those people will fail you. Your family, your spouse, your kids, even you; yourself will fail you. There is only one person who never fails; Jesus Christ.
It becomes imperative that a relationship with God exists before we begin any changes in our life. Not only for direction but for the real support we need to get through the challenges we face. A friend can give you words of encouragement. A spouse and kids can give you love and support. But all that is external. You can get all the external motivation in the world and still feel unsuccessful. It is only through internal recognition that true comfort can be attained. If you don’t feel it inside, then words will fail, and often times so will you, because you give up.
The only person who can run the race is you. You can have a cheering section telling you to go and that you can do it, but unless you get on your feet and move, the race cannot be won. The confidence comes from within. And this confidence is deeper than self-induced motivation. It comes from the giver of life, the one who gives us the strength to take the next step when we are at our end; it comes from the one who wants us to succeed in all we do.
Every change we face this coming year, whether it be part of a new year’s resolution or something forced upon us, we need to go about it with a positive attitude. All circumstances put on our path are God-given. They are God-given to guide us. They are God-given to challenge us. They are God-given to grow us.
The question we need to ask ourselves as we move into 2018 is not, “Who do I want to be?” It needs to be, “Who does God want me to be?” When our focus is switched from what we want to what He wants, then the other changes that need to be made will become easier. When we chose to look to God for encouragement, then no disheartening words of man can bring us down. When we finish the God-given race before us, we develop the confidence needed to move on to the next goal. Each step moving closer to the person we are destined to be.