The holidays are a magical time of year. Everyone feels cheery, appreciative and looks forward to spending time with friends and family. As Thanksgiving rolls around, everyone starts the countdown to their December holiday – Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, etc. and then it’s off to the New Year!
While everyone is stuffed (stressed and broke) from the holidays, New Year invigorates. It’s the start of a new chapter and people are empowered to make resolutions. Energized and electrified, everyone sets new goals and declares who they will be in the upcoming year.
Personally, I love the strong desire to work towards becoming our best selves! We should get excited to incorporate better habits into our routine and make healthy choices to be happier. As much as I love the newfound confidence to crush our goals, it’s hard to deny how ridiculous (and predictable) it all can be. Once the fascination of ‘New Year, New Me’ wears off, we recoil to who we are, trapped on a hamster wheel, wishing for a better life.
We all have the opportunity to reach our goals every day of the year.
We don’t need a calendar to tell us to go after want we want. We don’t need holiday traditions as a reminder to work towards your goals either.
Determine what you want and how to get it
Many of us have trouble figuring out what we want. It’s perfectly normal. Finding what we truly want is hard. It requires us to learn about ourselves – to confront ourselves, face the truth of who we are and what we truly desire.
Nowadays, we are too busy “hustling” and doing whatever we believe we’re “supposed to be doing”. Because we’re so focused on reacting to what others ask and tell us to do, we don’t stop and listen to ourselves. To know what we want, we must slow down and pay attention to where our mind, body, and soul is trying to guide us. (Similar to the voice inside of Marie Forleo’s head, from her book “Everything is Figureoutable”)
For many of us, we never had that opportunity before… to stop and ask ourselves “what do we want?”.
It’s no wonder we have no idea! No one has asked us what we wanted nor have we had a chance to think about it, let alone voice it. Well, now’s your chance!
Here are some questions you can ask yourself to help you find out what you want:
- What sets your soul on fire? What gets you so excited, you can feel the passion coursing through your veins?
- What do you love doing? Yes, what do you love doing so much, you forget to check your phone, looking at the time, or even eat or sleep (which you totally should do btw)?
- What kind of goals would you love to achieve? Make a bucket list!
- How do you want to be remembered?
- What do people go to you for? And is that something you’re proud of?
Once you find out what you want, break down how you can get there!
- What do you need to accomplish in order to reach your top goals?
- What are the milestones? How can you achieve these milestones?
- What are some creative ways you can get there (that are legal, ethical and doesn’t compromise your morals and values)?
- What skills do you need to acquire in order to achieve your goals and milestones?
- Who do you need to “be” to achieve your goals? How can you work to become that person?
Asking these questions can be easy. Answering them requires a bit of soul searching. It’s ok if you can’t figure it out right away! Just think about it and take notes in your journal. Meditate and do some breathing exercises. Do some free writing or mind mapping and see what you come up with. People search their whole lives to figure out what they want. It would be foolish of me to expect you to do that halfway through this article.
Build small habits
We all have the capabilities to make an impact on our lives. It doesn’t have to be quitting your job, traveling the world or any other grand gestures that influencers and motivational speakers make it out to be.
Life-changing decisions happen every day. It all starts by taking an initiative and making a decision to be your best self.
Start by being conscious of the little decisions you make every day. Reflect (preferably in a journal so you can track it!) on how it contributes or hinders your success. Then, develop a strategy on how you can reach your goals and the habits (and skills) you need to get there.
Pick a habit or skill you can incorporate into your routine. Develop one first before adding the next one on your list. It also helps to make small but conscious choices every day to increase the stickiness and maintaining the habit/skill over time. Focus on choices that can help you grow physically, mentally, spiritually and socially, such as:
- Swapping a fatty or sugar-heavy breakfast for a healthier option
- Scheduling time to proactively work on your goals and commit to it
- Politely declining offers to do something you don’t want to do and spend that time taking care of yourself
By compiling healthy habits, skills, and choices, you create a snowball effect and optimize your personal development.
As you start to build your habits, it’s normal to fall back on what’s comfortable (and comforting). That’s ok. It’s ok to relapse. You can just as easily rebuild your habits and get back on course.
Now, times are going to be tough. That’s when you remind yourself of your priorities and your purpose. Focus on why you wanted (no, need) to achieve your goals and the importance of reaching them will help you get back on track.
Set yourself up for success by creating a safe space
Naturally, it’s difficult for you to uproot what’s familiar to you and build towards the life you want. That’s why you will want to set yourself up for success by creating an environment where you feel safe to try new things and learn about yourself.
Let’s be honest, venturing outside of your comfort zone and redefining the limits of what you’re comfortable with is scary AF. That’s ok. In your safe space, you have the flexibility to experiment. Discover what makes you happy, what problems keep you up at night and what you would commit your life to solve.
Create an environment where you can focus solely on achieving your mission. Plan ahead and budget your time, energy and expenses the best you can so you can have the mental space to focus on your goals. Carve out time to meditate, think and strategize. Remind yourself every day of what you’re working towards. Make yourself a priority and hold yourself accountable. Take care of your mind, body, and soul.
Surround yourself with positivity and support
As hard as it can be to develop new habits and maintain focus on your goals, you also need to focus on what brings you joy. Your safe space will also allow you to develop and maintain a positive state of mind. Fill your days with laughter and happy tears. Focus more of your time doing what makes you happy.
What also helps on your personal development journey is outside support. Build a close circle of those you can trust and want to see you succeed. Pick people who can celebrate your highs, pick you up when you’re down and aren’t afraid to face obstacles head-on together. Don’t be afraid to share your goals, fears, and insecurities. Listen to theirs.
Choose people who will hold you accountable and aren’t afraid to call you out on your shit. Build a relationship where both sides can respect each others boundaries, focus, and limitations. It would be great if your goals align with theirs. If not, help them with their mission as much as they help you with yours.
As important as it is to surround yourself with great people, it is equally, if not more, important to remove distractions and toxic people from your life. I’m not suggesting to cut off people who cannot proactively contribute to your goals. Only those who drain your energy and focus. Be careful of those that are selfish, envious and unfairly demands your time.
As the holiday season comes to a close, we all are hopeful of the next chapter. We spend our time indulging with friends and family, holiday cheer and way too much food (not that I’m complaining). As we take the time to unwind and reflect on our year, we make plans for what’s to come.
You don’t have to wait until January 1st to strive to be better. You can start right now by looking inwards. Think about what you’ve accomplished and would like to do next. Learn to listen to what you want and figure out how to get there. Give thanks to all of those that have been there for you and those that made room for you to focus by leaving. Create a safe space for you to try new things, experiment, and do that one thing you’ve always wanted to do. You don’t need a new year for a clean slate. Start today and start right now.
Inspired by TheFemaleHusters
Melissa Thi Le is the Founder of Strive With Me, a business owner, and community leader. She loves learning about personal development, business, and social impact as she builds a life dedicated to combating social issues affecting millions of people. She created Strive With Me to build a community to support each other on their journey towards achieving their goals. You can reach Melissa by sending her an email at Contributor@strivewithme.com or joining our Facebook Group. You can read more about what Melissa is striving for here and more of her articles here.