New Year, new me? An alternative approach

As each year winds down, the resolution rhetoric begins to populate our social spaces. Be it online or in face to face conversation, many of us reflect on the year that’s coming to a close, while we plan all the amazing things we want to do in the New Year. I’ve often found myself, year after year, caught up in the hype of creating this master list of things that I absolutely needed to accomplish for the following year.

Sadly, one of two things would happen: I’d either not fulfill the list which would leave me feeling despondent, or if I did in fact complete it, I’d still be unhappy, and I’d question the point of doing all these things because of the amount of unnecessary pressure I put on myself. Then I’d go through it all over again the following year. I eventually grew weary, fed up of this cycle that I’d put myself in; and decided a few years to make one New Year’s resolution that I’ve stuck with to this day.

That resolution, was to make to no more New Year’s resolutions. I refused to let this annual list of things I have to do hang over my head. So, instead of the generic “for year of xxxx I want to do a, b and c,” I took a slightly different approach to my goal setting.

One of the first things I did was look at that extensive list of things that I had not yet completed, and break it down. I started with smaller goals and then worked my way up. This has helped me tremendously. For example, instead of saying that you want to read 100 books in 1 year, try starting off small and building on it. You can start with three, or maybe even five books in one month. If you finish all the books you planned out before the month is up, read more.

Add another book or two on to your monthly goal with each passing month and by the end of the year you could very well not only hit your reading target, but surpass it too. When our goals are focused around larger numbers, we can become easily intimidated. Breaking down your yearlong goal into smaller goals makes it way more manageable.

At times, even when you break your goals down into more practicable tasks, you can still drop the ball. After all, life can get in the way, and there will be instances where we don’t get to carry out all that we aimed for. Not completing a task can easily demotivate anyone from achieving their goal, but you can’t allow yourself to wallow in self-pity.

Get back up! Do not let one setback stop you. Remember that none of us are perfect. We may not get it right the first time, or even the second time. But not getting it right off the bat does not mean that you will not get it right at all. In the words of the late Aaliyah “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off, and try again, you can dust it off and try again, try again”

Have you ever made a resolution, and just wanted to get it over and done with for the sake of checking it off your list? This was me. Back when I was hell bent on making resolutions every single year, I would be so caught up in trying to complete everything my list that I would end up not enjoying what I was actually trying to do. Now? I take the time to really live in the moment and enjoy the present without having the list hang over my head, and because of that, my goals are no longer something to just tick off a list, but something to truly experience.

One of the best things I could have done to move away from the cycle of New Year’s resolutions was to stop comparing myself to other persons. Many times, our goals are often driven by the fact that we see other people achieving theirs, which is fine. However, we have to remember that everyone’s journey in life is different. Comparison can be the thief of your joy and in many cases, when we look at what others are doing, we often pin point the areas where we are lacking. I have struggled with this in the past, and still do from time to time, but now, I continually try my best to cognizant of the fact that I have to find my own way, and that it may take a little longer or shorter than others to get there.

In all of this, I urge you to not wait for the new year to make changes in your life. Don’t let the nostalgia of the holidays be the catalyst for you wanting to better yourself. You can set your goals any time you want to. If you get off track, start again. If you feel frustrated, step back, take moment, and start again. And remember, if at first you don’t succeed, try again.


Tshenelle Bethel-Peters aka Nelly B is a natural hair, beauty and lifestyle blogger; an avid  supporter of buying local and a lover of random shenanigans. Follow her at www.adayibthelifeofnellyb.com or @blessednelly on Twitter and Instagram

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