The last day of the year... A day of reflection. A day of planning the new year... For most of us, the new year is seen as a fresh start. A chance to be different. Better. To break old habits, create new ones, reach goals, have new experiences, meet new people...
In the past I was never much of a goal setter, and my attitude for the most part was just, "go with the flow and decide things as they happen." However, after I got to the end of 2018, and (in my eyes) achieved the equivalent of nothing, I realised that maybe this floating attitude wasn't actually working.
At the beginning of the year, one of my friends sent me a picture of her goals and habits for 2019, and so for fun, I sat down and decided to make a list of mine too. Really, it turned out to be a list of habits or tasks I wanted to adopt daily/monthly as opposed to any specific goals I wanted to achieve, and I believe that that worked better.
If I remember correctly, here was my list.
Practice 30 minutes of Spanish every day.
Complete morning pages every day.
Meditate every day.
Write 3 things I'm grateful for every day.
Write some of my book every day. (Even if just a sentence).
Do one long meditation once a month.
Write a letter to someone once a month.
Watch a documentary once a month.
Do a Facebook live once a month.
Post a blog on 44 once a month.
To be fair, 2 months into the year I dropped the documentary habit, the letter writing and long meditation because I realised those weren't actually that important to me, and it became harder to prioritise them. However, I'm happy to say that I did everything else.
In 2018, I posted two blogs on 44. In 2019 I posted 12 blogs on 44 (one a month) and I did 12 Facebook Lives. The difference is solely due to the fact that in 2019, I made posting a monthly blog/Facebook Live compulsory. Amazingly, inspiration does strike when you have a deadline.
In 2018, my morning page routine (description in tomorrow's blog) was erratic and inconsistent, but after making it compulsory to complete it daily in 2019, I filled out 14 journals.
In 2018, I didn't write at all and in the previous years, I would start books but never finish them. In 2019 I said to myself that I must write something every single day, even just a sentence, as with that logic, the book will eventually be written. As a result, I wrote approximately 42 000 words in the year.
The big difference between 2018 and 2019 was my use of daily/monthly habits. By completing a small task every single day, I was able to take small but rapid steps towards a goal, making greater progress than if I took a large step whenever I felt like it. The thing with me is that I often don't feel like it. Even if the task is easy and gives me joy, I'll put it off, leaving it for later, and as a result, saying, 'I'll do it tomorrow,' is the thing that becomes a habit, and I never actually do the task.
I've realised that when you try to form a habit, there are actually two habits in play. The habit of doing something and the habit of not doing something. Often it's the habit of not doing something that is stronger, which would explain why it's so easy to fall off the rails. I've learnt that if I don't do my 15 minutes of exercise today, I'm making it easier to not do my 15 minutes of exercise tomorrow. 1 day of rest can very quickly become 6 months of rest.
Honestly, it can be difficult to do your daily tasks, especially if you're feeling tired, sick or you have something else you would prefer to do. Something I did learn this year though was that my excuses are not always legitimate ones and if I am committed enough to my habit and goal, I will make a plan. Things like no water, no electricity, tiredness, lateness, other work, were a few of the excuses my mind came up with with regards to exercise, but I ignored those and exercised nonetheless. This made me realise that it was the brain that was trying to stop me from exercising and not the actual obstacle.
If you are committed enough to your goals, you won't let any excuses stop you from taking daily action. Having said that, though, its quite alright if you do drop some goals and tasks along the wayside if you realise that you don't actually want to achieve that now or if you would prefer to prioritise other things. Remember that goals and habits are personal and you have control over what stays and what goes.
I've had a really great 2019 and I can honestly say that I'm proud of myself and my achievements this year. But having thought about it today, I owe that success to a Jess who planned her year at the beginning of 2019, and gave herself compulsory daily and monthly tasks.
Wishing you a beautiful and productive new year.