When midnight on the last day of the year rolls around, this is when everyone verbally commits to these grandiose goals or changes. One of the most popular being, join a gym (or return to the gym) and lose X amount of pounds before X date. Membership sales skyrocket in the month of January and there is never a treadmill available, and I know this to be factual because I actually worked at a gym around the New Year and saw faces I’ve never seen before, but much like a new car smell, they started to fade out as time progressed. Much like these new gym attendees, I too had a desire to declare a New Years resolution; only mine was to stop spending so much on fast food. More specifically, I couldn’t spend any more than $30/month for fast food. Realistically I could spend that in one sitting between my daughter and I. I definitely didn’t make it past January.

The way my schedule works and how convenient it is to just grab and go, I often think “it’s only a $4 snack pack,” but $4 can turn into $40 real quick. Maybe if I wasn’t so pressed about the newness of the upcoming year and creating this grandiose goal, that I could’ve gradually weaned myself off of fast food and paced myself.

I know I’m speaking to somebody with this story! Take a second to think about the many New Years Resolutions you’ve made, not just over the past year but years prior to. Now think about how many of those goals you’ve actually attained over the course of those years. This call to reflect is not to make you feel bad about the things you weren’t able to accomplish, but to simply suggest a different way of going about setting goals and attaining them. Goes as follows:

Stop waiting until the New Year to make plans

Clearly this thing or these things have been on your mind for sometime now so what’s the point of putting it off just to slap the “New Years Resolution” title on there? If paying off that credit card debt, losing that 20 pounds, or leaving your ex behind is that important to you, make a decision then and there and follow through with it!

Create action steps that lead to the goal

People often times get goals and action steps confused. I was actually sitting down with my older brother just recently about writing down our goals and creating action steps to meet our goals. For example, one of my life goals is to help rehabilitate the Black household by providing counsel and resources to the head of the household: the Father. I am a true advocate for men in the home and being active in the home. If that is my goal, then my actions steps are: (1) Getting my Masters degree in Social work (2) Completing my practicum at a social services organization to get the experience and exposure (3) Research interventions that organizations are currently doing on the population I want to serve, etc. These can also be considered baby goals leading up to the overarching goal. Basically, what are the everyday/tangible things you can work towards that will help you attain that one large goal? Focus on those.

Make it visual

It’s one thing to have a goal nested in the corner of your brain, and another to have it written down to where you can always be reminded of what you need to do. That’s why the scripture “Write the vision, make it plain”- Habakkuk 2:2 means so much to me. I need to see my goals and action steps written down in pretty colors and hung high so it can always catch my attention. It also keeps me accountable. I have a goal board on my kitchen wall that I declare the date I made the goal on an index card and pin it on the board. Once I finally attain that goal, I take the index card down, fold it, and put it in my accomplishment jar on my kitchen table to review at the end of the year. It’s an awesome conversation starter when you have company and I even got a couple of my friends joining in on the goal board.

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Count the small victories

So what you didn’t lose 10 pounds in 30 days like you wanted, but you made it to the gym 2 days out of the week and slowly but surely changed your eating habits. That’s 2 days that you weren’t even thinking about going to the gym and more concern about putting healthier food in your body than you did before. That’s progress. Each day comes with new grace and mercy. There are victories to be won every hour of every day. I have yet to pay off my credit card debt but this month’s payment was more than last month’s. Progress.

Just do it

Self-explanatory. Matta fak (matter of fact), when you get done reading this article, whatever has been placed on your heart to do for some time now, just do it. Want go back to school? Open up another tab and complete the application TONIGHT. Want to write a book? Create outlines every open opportunity you have. Want to get out of debt? Set a little money aside with each paycheck and use those funds strictly for debt reduction. Little by little. Aint nothing to it but to do it!

Happy New Year.

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