In the past when I’ve come up with New Year’s Resolutions I’m really enthusiastic and driven for the first month. The second month the excitement and commitment starts to fade. By March those resolutions and goals are typically long gone. Ancient history. A thing of the past. To be honest by March I have trouble even remembering what my goals and aspirations were.
This year I’m happy to report that’s not the case. My New Year’s Resolutions are still very much at the top of my mind day to day. Now, that’s to say I’ve been perfect in my resolutions. Far, far from it (as you’re about to see). To recap, I came up with 8 different goals to correlate with the different aspects of a person’s well being (mental, physical, spiritual, emotional, social, financial, occupational, and intellectual. I’ve been incredibly successful in some, while others have more or less been a disaster.
Below I give a grade and a brief progress report on how each goal is going so far. Like I said, some have been quite successful, while others need a lot more work.
Mental: Complain less
This one has been tough. This was one of the first goals I thought of because it was one I believed could have the biggest impact. I had felt like I was becoming too negative and critical in the way I spoke to and about people. I felt like this mindset was taking a toll on my overall mood and affecting my ability to appreciate the good things in life.
I probably had about a good week or two where I was very aware of each potential complaint and did a good job of restraining myself. In the moments in which I did choose to refrain from complaining I felt accomplished and motivated to continue. Anytime an opportunity to complain presented itself I’d ask myself, “Will a complaint here do anything to resolve or fix the situation?” No was the overwhelming answer to these questions.
Unfortunately I complain a lot. That was obviously a big reason why I wanted to work on this issue in the first place, but I don’t even think I realized how often I complain. Despite my early success I quickly returned to my old justifications for complaining. I’m just getting it off my chest. It’s harmless. We all need to vent sometimes.
Before I knew it I was back to my old ways, complaining over silly, minute things.
Physical: Try something new
This one is to tough to grade. This goal I left intentionally open ended. I’m wasn’t sure what types of physical challenges this year would present but I wanted to be openminded for if/when those opportunities presented themselves. Although I haven’t technically fulfilled my goal I do feel like the physical aspect of my life has been the area in which I felt the most motivated. I have been much more focused on exercising and working out and I’ve been feeling great as a result. And despite not trying anything new just yet, I have turned to some of my old favorite activities in recent weeks, specifically ultimate frisbee, disc golf, and running.
Spiritual: Spend at least five minutes a night in silent reflection and prayer
This is something I began working on even before the new year and I am so happy to see how it’s made a difference. My nightly reflections have become something I truly look forward to as a way to find peace and solace. If I’ve had a good day it’s my opportunity to give thanks to God for my many blessings. If I’ve had a rough day it’s my chance to ask Him for guidance and comfort. I’ve found myself feeling much more at ease and grounded as a result of my nightly reflection and prayer.
I haven’t been completely perfect in this goal. There have been several nights where I tell myself I’m just too tired to sit silently for five minutes…so instead I lay in bed for 15 minutes staring at my phone as I fall asleep. This, like every goal I’ve made, is a work in progress but one that I’m pleased to see has been a success so far.
Emotional: Describe each day in one word
This has perhaps been my favorite resolution. In some sense that’s because it’s the easiest. But it’s also because this goal has really helped me be more present in each day. As my day progresses I am actively thinking about how I would describe my day in that moment. Am I feeling productive or stagnant? Am I feeling alive or am I in a rut? Happy? Struggling? Loved? Valued?
Having this goal awaiting me at the end of each day has pushed me to be more honest with myself. How am I actually feeling – not just what I tell other people. This also helps guide my nightly reflection and prayer as I look back on my day. More often than not I’m finding myself landing on the positive things that happened that day.
Random aside: I’ve used a different word each day. I did not plan on that being the case but now I’m determined to keep that going for as long as possible.
Social: Respond to texts and messages within an hour of seeing them
This was one where I started out with a bang and then slowly started to fade. At first I was responding to texts with alarming quickness. Probably too quick. Regardless, I was happy to see how much more engaged I felt in my conversations with friends and family. Then gradually the newness wore off and the excuses increased. I was just too busy to respond to that text right away. I didn’t know how to answer that question right away. I could have sworn I responded!
In the past this would have been the exact kind of resolution I would have given up on, claiming to have given it the good ol’ college try. Although I haven’t been perfect, it’s still something I am cognizant of and still striving to improve. This is the kind of goal where I’m happy with the small victories and steady progress.
Financial: check my bank account/budget once a week
This remains as perhaps my most boring goal. Nonetheless, it’s one I’ve really excelled in. It may not seem like much to check my finances but once a week, but for me that’s monumental. I’ve grown much more confident and competent when it comes to tracking my budget and knowing how much I’m spending. I haven’t drastically changed my spending habits but now I have a much better sense of what I should and shouldn’t be spending money on.
Occupational: ask more questions
This one is a work in progress (no pun intended…..anyone?……..anyone?). I still tend to be a very prideful person that’s afraid to ask for help. But I’m also understanding that I work in an incredibly supportive work atmosphere where I truly am part of a team. And as a member of that team it’s important that I carry my weight, and sometimes that means owning up to my shortcomings and asking a question about how to do something. In a roundabout way, this has helped me acknowledge my own gifts and talents as they pertain to work. Yes, there are areas in which I need to improve and things I don’t know, but there are also a lot of things I bring to the table.
Intellectual: limit my screen time to three hours a day
The first couple weeks were fantastic. I was constantly checking to see how much screen time I had left and closely monitoring how long I was scrolling social media. Not only was I keeping it under three hours a day, I was down to 2.5 hours. I didn’t feel like I was allowing my phone and my screen to consume me and my time. I felt free.
Thennnn I started allowing myself to be more lenient. I wasn’t keeping as close of tabs on my limit throughout the day, so there were plenty of times I’d check it for the first time at 3pm to see I only had 15 minutes left. Next thing I knew my three hour limit was out the window. Instead, my screen time skyrocketed up to four hours plus. Seeing that was demoralizing, yet I couldn’t get myself back on track. I more or less just accepted defeat.
I have had varying levels of success with each of the goals listed above. However, these goals are all just small parts of my grander objective – to find balance. Going into 2021 I felt imbalanced in a way that I couldn’t quite describe. Whether it was work-life balance, balance between taking time for myself and spending time with others, balancing my activities outside of work, something just felt off. I had determined that I needed to find balance on a personal level, within all the aspects of my well-being. That’s what ultimately led me to creating a resolution for each category.
These goals are just mere stepping stones on my quest to finding real balance. I’m realistic in understanding that by year’s end I’m likely not going to have straight A’s. And that’s okay because the real purpose for these goals is to reframe how I approach each day. To live my life day to day focusing on how I can be the best, most balanced version of myself. Some days I’ll prioritize some goals over others depending on which ones need work.
It’s rare that I make it this far into a new year and am still actively working on whatever resolutions or goals I set. I’m eager to see how these goals continue to progress, but more importantly, I’m excited to see the dividends they pay in my journey to find balance. I’m happy to report, progress has been made.