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Seriously Successful: A New Year’s Betterment Project

Seriously Successful New Years Goals NMB

Well, fellow moms—it’s a new year. Facebook is full of 2015 reflections, people are passing around Dave Barry’s end of the year review, and all I can think is, “I really need to [insert resolution] this year.” I love making goals for the new year. It feels like we get a fresh start on life, and I’m always eager to better myself. The problem, however, is that New Year’s Resolutions always sound like a great idea. Then…they seem to lose steam somewhere around mid-February. (This is never made more obviously evident than the population of the cardio room in any given gym. Am i right?!) It can be hard to stay focused, and it’s even harder to quantify things like whether or not you actually spent the year “being nicer” or “eating healthier.”

This year I’m determined to do resolutions the right way. For starters, I’m setting attainable goals instead of making arbitrary resolutions. I’m breaking my goals down by category, and I’m going to set quantifiables around everything so that I’ll know whether or not I’ve met those goals by the end of the year. Are you ready to join this betterment project with me?

Put on the Thinking Cap

The first thing I did was spend some time thinking about the most important things in my life. If I prioritize those things, I figured, everything else I do is a bonus. Categorizing my goals helped me not feel overwhelmed by all the ways I want to better myself. My categories are as follows: Marriage, Kids, Friends, Work, Food, Health, School, Finances, and Home Projects.

Be Specific

Once I had all my categories, it was time to set goals under each one. This is where I needed to be specific about what I wanted. Under Marriage, for example, I had to think specifically about our relationship and what needs improvement and what works best for us before I could come up with the right goals. I want us to go on more dates, and I want us to put a higher priority on sex—so I added those as bullet points. Then I specified these goals in further detail. My goals needed some cold, hard math.  

Be Quantifiable

Setting quantifiable goals around everything will help me know whether or not I’ve achieved said goals. This is where the difference between “goals” and “resolutions” is so important. A resolution may look like this: “Exercise more,” but that in itself isn’t quantifiable. If you didn’t exercise at all in 2015, and you exercise once in 2016, you could technically say that you kept your resolution. That didn’t seem successful to me. (And it definitely wasn’t going to accomplish the betterment that’s my aim.) I wanted a way to know that I was meeting my goals. So providing quantities to reach for seemed like the most fail-proof way to do that. Examples: “Run three times per week, and practice yoga twice a week.” “Go on two dates per month.” “Cook one new recipe per week.”

Figure Out the How

Now, I had specific, quantifiable goals, but if I was serious about making my goals happen, I needed to figure out the details that would lead to their success. HOW was I going to cook one new recipe a week or go on two dates per month? That took some serious planning on my part, but I felt that in order to actually accomplish my goals, I needed to form some habits—which would be a lot easier if I figured out how to stay on top of this betterment project.

If I wanted to cook one new recipe per week, I needed to arm myself with some trusty cookbooks and blogs that I could peruse. I also decided that Mondays would be the perfect day of the week to experiment in the kitchen because I could find the recipe and shop for the ingredients over the weekend. Mondays in 2016 are now Gourmet Mondays.

Going on two dates per month means having a babysitter lined up so we don’t have to scramble at the last minute and risk not being able to go. It means reservations for restaurants or an idea of what movie we want to see. I don’t have to plan the whole year in January, but having a good idea how and when to make these nitty-gritty details will set me up for success.

Don’t Reach for the Stars

It was tempting, in thinking about what I want out of life, to set goals over which I don’t actually quite have control. “Become a published author,” or “Play the leading role in a musical.” These are great aspirations, but I left them off my goals list. Why? I wanted to place the ability to achieve my goals squarely in my own hands. Instead, I might incorporate my desire for these things in a more attainable way: “Finish my novel,” “Audition for a the leading role in a musical,” etc. Those goals are fully within grasp because I control them.

Build in Grace

We moms have too much to worry about already, and most of us probably have way too much guilt in our lives without adding failed goals to the list. I know my idealistic view of goal-making doesn’t take LIFE into account. Sometimes things happen in life that are completely out of our control, and we need to be mindful of that. Making goals which are recurring (run three times per week) gives me a built-in grace when I can’t reach that goal. If I’m sick or circumstances prevent my meeting my goals one week, I know I can start over again and try to meet my goals the next week—which makes me less likely to give up in March when I haven’t been running enough or eating any better.

Speaking of giving myself grace—January is for hitting my stride, so I’m not too worried about starting out perfectly. And I’m not going to come down too hard on myself when I’m unable to accomplish a goal. Maybe I won’t finish that novel this year. That’s ok! The point of this whole project is to better myself. This is good for me and for the people around me—especially my family. I’m excited to tackle my goals this year and be the best me that I can be—whether I do yoga twice a week or not. That said, I’m off to a yoga class at the YMCA… Happy New Year, mamas!

Do you have any goals for 2016? How will you accomplish them?

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