Family Issues: A New Start for a New Year

How to achieve your resolutions once and for all. The holidays are approaching, and not far behind is the New Year. As people celebrate with family
and friends, New Year’s resolutions tend to be on everyone’s mind. This can be an exciting time as it offers a clean slate for the upcoming year. Individuals are anticipating a better year, and they are prepared to let the previous year go and open themselves up to possibilities of achieving what they did not accomplish last year. Most people are energized and motivated to make some life changes, and the New Year gives them that opportunity. Personally, I use this time to look at the year ahead and highlight what exactly I want to see happen in my life. It is also important to reflect on the past year in order to make adjustments to the actions that might not have produced your desired results.

Every January, Jill Miller, a wife and mother of two, has set her sights high to bring more exercise and fitness into her life. She works part time, she is a devoted volunteer at her children’s school, and she rarely focuses on herself. Unfortunately, by February or March, the goal has fizzled, and she is back to her regular routine. She then feels a huge sense of guilt and failure. “I always have the best intentions and feel motivated and excited to achieve the goals at the beginning of the year, but my life always seems to get in the way,” she explains. “I finally had a realization that the goal of getting in shape needed to be discarded. I knew myself well enough not to set the bar so high, thus avoiding disappointment. I focused my energy elsewhere, and the goal took care of itself.”

Jill was asked by a close friend to participate in a triathlon at the end of the summer, and she thought it would be a fun accomplishment. She was comfortable biking and walking long distances, but she was not a swimmer in the least. She knew she needed to devote time in the pool, or she would have to be rescued in the lake during the triathlon. She began training three to four times a week and set realistic goals for herself along the way. Before she knew it, she was exercising every single day, sometimes twice a day. She had a long-term goal that forced her to create the time, and she enjoyed the feeling of making progress every week.
Sometimes we create goals for ourselves that lack the energy and excitement needed to achieve them. When Jill signed up for the triathlon, she had a reason to begin exercising. This new goal brought newfound passion and life back to a goal that was otherwise dead. She was able to get fit and in shape without solely focusing on her initial goal of just exercising. Sometimes creating a new goal for yourself will lead you to the same desired outcome.

Do you find yourself doing the same thing year after year? You believe with all your heart that this time around is going to be different, that you are going to accomplish the goals once and for all. How about taking a different approach this year? No doubt you have heard the saying, If you continue to do the same thing, then you will continue to get the same results. It is important to break the cycle and refresh the objectives you initially had in mind. Spice up the goals, take some risks, and review what you have done in the past. If we never learn from our mistakes, we will continue to make them. As the New Year approaches, here are some tools and guidance to help you achieve the goals you set for yourself. What if you were able to make some positive life changes this time around? What if you had the support and blueprint to succeed? Considering there is nothing to lose, but potentially everything to gain, why not give it a try?

This year is about reviewing your past in order to learn from your mistakes, it is about simplifying your life to make room for your newfound goals, and lastly it is about creating goals that have been revised and refreshed. Here are some practical tips to get you started.

This is your opportunity to look at the past year and detail where you have grown and what areas still need improvement. Try focusing on several key areas of your life: relationships, personal growth, health and fitness and work. Take out one piece of paper for each area and answer some basic questions.

Have I improved in this area?
Did I commit enough time and energy in this area?
What specific accomplishments can I highlight?
Where would I like to improve?

If you are unhappy with certain elements of your life, this is the time to be honest with yourself. Lisa Smith, a
single mom and business owner, realized after reviewing her list that she did not commit any time to having fun in her life. She was so busy running a business and caring for her children that she completely ignored her need for down time. So she committed to making time for herself in the upcoming year, and it dramatically improved her mood and energy level.

Before creating goals for yourself, make room in your life for these goals. In other words, rid your life of anything that is draining you both physically and emotionally. How are you spending your time? Are you overcommitting yourself? Lisa Smith realized she had a hard time saying “no” and therefore always piled more tasks on her already full plate: “As soon as I prioritized what was important to me, I was able to let go of tasks that were taking up too much of my time. I then had some freedom and flexibility to fill it with activities that excited me. This is when I began bringing more fun and relaxation into my life.”

Now is the time to delete or delegate certain obligations or time-zappers. Consider whether there are people or situations that are emotionally draining you and bringing you down. Ridding yourself of toxic people and environments will add energy and peace back into your life.

Now that you have begun cleaning up your life a bit, it’s time to set up your goals. If a goal does not excite or inspire you, let it go. Make a graph of the different areas of your life and create one realistic goal for each area. The areas could include relationships, health and fitness, personal growth, fun, career and home environment. Let’s assume you need to improve your current relationship — create a specific and realistic goal that you can embark on. Possibilities include going on a relationship retreat, or committing to a date night every week, or showering your partner with simple loving gestures every month. Come up with a goal that you are ready to jump into, one where you do not need to force the motivation.

Now is the time to enjoy the holidays and begin the New Year on a positive note. Preparation is the key to success. If you are willing to venture out and bring life back to otherwise dead goals, then you too can experience a sense of achievement and fulfillment. Both Lisa Smith and Jill Miller know from firsthand experience the power of consistency and change. They were tired of the same dead ends, so they took risks in trying new things and reprioritized the way they were living their lives. I wish you the best of luck and a very Happy New Year.


Leslie Gail is a life coach and owner of New Life Focus Coaching.

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