The new year is conventionally our anniversary of self-reflection. We begin to contemplate all of the ways we can become our “best self” over the next 12 months. Maybe, we’ll even sit down and write out each of our goals, putting them in a list titled “Resolutions.” Most of this list will include the previous year’s resolutions, which we gave up on before February 1st. I’m willing to bet your list looks like this: (1) Lose 20 lbs., (2) Drink Less, (3) Exercise More, (4) Eat Healthier, (5) Spend More Time with the Family, (6) Pay Off Debt, (7) Read a Book a Month, (8) Get More Sleep, (9) Take the Stairs… and so on.
That’s quite a lot of goals, huh? Before you wrote them all out, they seemed far less intimidating.
If you want to set achievable goals, let this saying ring in your ears, “If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time.” In other words, make a plan.
Now, before I tell you how to plan your march through 2024, you’re probably wondering why you should listen to me.
Well, I had to do quite a lot of self-reflection at the age of 29, when I became a left-arm and shoulder amputee. I had to retire from the NFL and face a whole new set of challenges to become my “best self.” However, at the time, my list of new me resolutions looked a lot like your list of New Year’s resolutions.
Even though I wasn’t a football player anymore, I still wanted to stay in shape. But medical professionals said I shouldn’t and couldn’t shovel my driveway, let alone run a 5k.
As you can imagine, I wasn’t in a great place mentally either. It was from rock bottom that I had to face my problems with drinking, alienating myself from my family, and the stress of it all leading to many restless nights without sleep.
Today, I owe my success to patience, perseverance, and being hard-headed. I’m in my 9th year of sobriety and have never felt better. I even still run 5ks with my grandkids at the age of 72. And my golf swing out-matches many of my two-armed competitors.
That should be proof enough to anyone that I know how to set achievable goals and conquer them, no matter how insurmountable they seem. But that’s enough about me. I’m concerned with getting you ready to tackle 2024 with a rock-solid strategy for success.
Let’s take another look at your list of resolutions. First off, prioritize. Which of your goals are the most important to you? Which do you need to achieve sooner rather than later?
Next, consider which of your goals will be the easiest to fit into your current routines. For instance, exercise is most beneficial in the morning. It kicks off endorphins that will help propel you through the day. If you get up a little earlier and hop on the treadmill, you’ll set yourself up for success and achieve even more. Then, why not end your day by reading a chapter of a book? If you stay consistent, you can read a book a month without breaking a sweat.
Third, I want you to define any ambiguous goals on your list. What does “spending more time with the family” mean to you? Will you attend all of your children’s sports events? Will you request a week off work in the summer for a family vacation?
Last, I’ll give you some practical words of encouragement. Research tells us that it takes 66 days on average for a habit to become truly automatic. The same research says it can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form a new habit, but if you are consistent and committed, the results are what counts, as we all are wired differently.
Remember, if I can do it, anybody can! At the age of 29, I had to relearn to do a lot of things differently. Over time, my patience and motivation bolstered my brain to never give up and eventually, I conquered most things.
In the spirit of accountability, I will leave you with two of my goals for the new year. I am going to add mindfulness and daily prayer to my repertoire, keeping my mind as healthy as my body. This new year, let’s work together to stay accountable and become our “best self” in 2024.