Saturday, January 2, 2016

The New Year is Time for You to Finally Finish What You Started in the Old Year

In memory of Natalie Cole, one of my favorite female singers. Against all odds, she never gave up. She finished what she started!!

Happy 2016! You made it to a brand New Year! Unfortunately, there were many of our friends and relatives who did not cross over into the New Year. The mere fact that you are reading this blog means that you have another opportunity to focus on your life, as well as your life directions. What does this mean? In the scheme of things, YOU ARE BLESSED!

Once again you have left an old year behind you and embarked upon a new year. And yes, it might be true that you have had difficulties that visited you and your life during 2015. As a result, your life “ain’t been no crystal stair.”* However, if you can view the difficulties you experienced as visitors, instead of residents within your life, even in a new year, you will no longer abate or abandon set goals due to unforeseen obstacles in your life.

No matter what hands you were dealt in 2015, whether good, bad, or indifferent, you have beaten the odds by leaving the old year behind and being granted another opportunity to move forward into a new year. However, just because the previous year didn’t seem to be a stellar year for you, it doesn’t mean that you have to throw in the towel on the goals you set and the dreams you held. Remember, it’s not over until God says it’s over. You can’t and you won’t win if you decide to quit or give up.

Often with a New Year comes the mad dash for many of you to make New Year’s resolutions, including setting new goals and possibly evaluating opportunities for new life directions. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting new resolutions/goals, 2016 might finally be the year in which you handle your life, your life goals, and your life directions in a new and different manner. It is time for you to consider the many New Year's resolutions you have set at the beginning of past years, but never accomplished.

Aside from you engaging in the fallacy that each New Year means you must start over with new resolutions/goals, without completing what you started the year and years prior to the current New Year, is that you often focus on the external aspects of your life, instead of your internal self, which will illuminate aspects of your life that truly make you ‘tick.’

These internal aspects of your life are your reality. Your ‘refusal’ to complete your internal journey, which must accompany your New Year’s resolution/goal setting process, is your closet and/or hidden way of avoiding your engagement in self-confrontation. You don’t want to take a realistic look at you. You don’t want to deal with you or make the necessary changes within you, in order for you to become a better you. Much of this avoidance has to do with your internal fears. Your internal confrontation means that you will have to abandon your fears, abandon procrastination, and move past observation, to a high level of participation in achieving your resolutions/goals. Although this is what you stated you wanted to accomplish when you made your New Year’s resolutions and set goals.

In order for you to successfully pick up the scattered and broken pieces of the unfinished goals and dashed dreams of your life without starting over, it is important that you recognize that starting a new year doesn't mean you have to start over.  However, starting the New Year does mean it’s time for you to decide to no longer procrastinate, but to finally motivate yourself, participate in the process, and activate your efforts to complete what you started in the past years, in the New Year!   In other words, it is time for you to finally finish what you started! Continuing your previous resolutions/goals into the New Year is not an indictment of you, and it doesn’t mean that you failed. What it does say about you is that you are NOT a quitter!

This New Year might finally be the time for you to decide to break from your broken traditions and no longer scramble to make New Year’s resolutions/goals based on past habits. This New Year is probably time for you to take stock of the past year, as well as your past five years, to assess and evaluate the goals you set during each of the years. It is also time for you to acknowledge the goals you achieved, as well as those you left on the table or in some other compartments of your life. Ask yourself, ‘why are you rushing to make new goals in the New Year when you didn't complete your goals in the past five years?!’

Starting this New Year, 2016, it is time for you to learn to take life one day at a time. Too often, many of you bite off more than you can chew. Your New Year’s resolutions/goals should be as specific goals. They should be realistic, measurable, and attainable. They should not be lofty, ‘pie-in-the-sky’ resolutions/goals. Your failure to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions in the past has many times been because of the lofty ones you developed. Your resolutions/goals should start out small and in the form of resolutions/goals that you can actually achieve. They should not be pipe dreams.

You must have a master plan, which is clear and succinct. Your resolutions/goals should be written for accomplishing in small chunks and not big hunks (3, 6, 9, 12 months). Prepare for sidesteps and not set backs. It is easier to recover from a side step than it is from a set back. Some of the yearly resolutions/goals you set might need to be extended beyond the year in which you set them; some might need to be amended during the year; and some resolutions/goals might need to be completely eliminated. Be willing to cut your losses. 

Each year should have you engaged in a process of goal defining and goal refining. If you can’t define your goals, you shouldn’t engage in making them. And as you engage in your yearly physical, financial, and other checkups, you should also engage in monthly goal checkups.

If you don’t attain your resolutions/goals within the year in which you made them, it’s okay for you to carry them over to the next year. Remember, carry over doesn’t mean you are rolling over or folding over. It simply means that for once in your life you are going to finish what you started, even if it takes you a little longer, including another year.

As you engage in attaining the resolutions/goals you set aside for various reasons, including not having the time, the patience, the tenacity, the motivation, or other deal breaking reasons over the past few years, you might want to engage with an accountability partner. This person can help you to remain focused, hopeful, and faithful. Your accountability partner can provide shoulders for you to lean on, as you provide shoulders for him/her to lean on. The accountability should be a reciprocated process.

So what are the steps to you completing your new Year’s resolutions/goals that you did not complete or that you compartmentalized from last year or in previous years?

1.     ADMIT & ASSESS the resolutions/goals that you have left incomplete or abandoned over the past five years…WRITE THEM DOWN.
2.     IDENTIFY & Develop clear & specific WRITTEN RESOLUTIONS/GOALS/PLANS with action words (WHAT do you want to accomplish--define them); Include TIME FRAMES & TIME LINES for accomplishing your resolutions/goals  (WHEN--3, 6, 9, or 12 months); Identify RESOURCES (WHAT/WHOM do you need to accomplish your resolutions/goals)…human, financial, or otherwise; Identify SPECIFIC AVTION STEPS necessary for you to achieve your goals (HOW you are going to get there); List your EXPECTED/ANTICIPATED OUTCOMES (WHAT are your expectations related to your resolutions/goals? WHAT do you want to accomplish?)
3.     Develop CONTINGENCY GOALS/PLAN…a backup plan (WHAT IF something happens along the way to ACCOMPLISHING your original goal plan?)
4.     Identify an ACCOUNTABLITIY PARTNER; someone you can speak with on a weekly basis, for encouragement, focusing on your goals. He/she must have faith, must believe in you & must believe, ‘YES YOU CAN!’
5.     Have a YES I CAN ATTITUDE-You must believe in yourself!
6.     Posses EXPECTED OPTIMISM, believing that the outcomes of your resolutions/goals can only result in a win-win experience
7.     REMAIN FOCUSED on your resolutions/goals. In other words, keep your eyes on the prize 
8.     Engage in monthly resolutions/goals check ups, assessments and evaluations. Are you on track with your written goals & action plan to accomplish your resolutions/goals? Which resolutions/goals do your need to REVISE, REWARD, RELEASE or  RELINQUISH?
9.     Mobilize or revitalize your SPIRITUAL CONNECTIONS. Pray without ceasing and recognize that it’s not all about you, but a higher power & that you can’t accomplish your resolutions/goals by yourself.
10.  Be PATIENT-It takes time to accomplish your resolutions/goals
12.  Don’t be afraid to LE GO! Know when to CUT YOUR LOSSES-remember the meaning of insanity. When you have constantly gone down the same path, and received the same negative results, it is now time for you to go in a different direction. You might need to relinquish your resolution/goal.
13.  Don’t be afraid to CONTINUE ON with your unfinished or delayed resolutions/goals
14.  Prepare your children for completing what they started and not having to start over. Serve as a role model for them!

Remember, a New Year means that the calendar has only changed to a new day, in a new year, with the same you! You have to decide how to continue what you were doing yesterday--today, in a new manner, in a NEW YEAR, that will help you to accomplish new results!

*Langston Hughes' “Mother to Son”

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