The First Step to Achieving Your Goals for the New Year


This blog combines two articles I wrote a few years ago on
If you would like to read the original source materials and the faith-based wisdom
that accompanies them, you can get them
here and here.

The start of a new year is a time when we naturally reflect on the past year and consider how we’d like the coming year to compare to it.  We think about where we succeeded and where we failed, and how that affects what we want to do in the future.  For many of us, this is a positive time.  But for many others, it can lead to negative feelings that can set us up for future failures.

Many people have trouble “starting over” because they are caught in a rut of grieving over past mistakes.  We all experience this kind of grief, but how we react to it determines whether it’s a good or a bad thing.  It is a waste of emotional and spiritual energy if we allow ourselves to remain stuck in the mire of self-pity.  But grieving over mistakes is productive and good if we use it as a catalyst for change.

Getting over the grief

Though we can start over at any time, the new year is a special blessing because it provides a psychological “reset” which makes it easier to begin anew.  It is the optimal time to give yourself a pass for past failures, to regroup, and determine to avoid repeating old mistakes.

The first step in moving forward is to change your mindset.

Our thinking governs our actions.  Therefore, much of what we experience in life is a result of how we think.  Here are three keys to getting into a frame of mind that will set you up for success in achieving your goals.

1. Forgive yourself.

Remember that old saying, “The windshield is bigger than the rear-view mirror.” You will not get too far focusing on what is behind you. Use your energy wisely. Invest it in your future, and look back only long enough to see the lesson.

This may be particularly hard if part of your grief over a past mistake or failure is related to how it affected others.  But that makes it all the more critical to overcome.  Not forgiving yourself keeps you stuck in a cycle of looking back over and over again, which can lead you to repeat the behavior that caused problems in the first place.

Go ahead and acknowledge where you went off-track, but then stop looking in the rear-view mirror and start looking through the windshield.  You must let go of what’s behind you to create the change you want for the future.

2. Identify areas where you need to have courage.

Nothing worthwhile was ever accomplished without courage.  If you are avoiding doing something because it is risky, scary, or could be hard, you are actually hurting yourself.  You are training yourself to withdraw, to let circumstances control you, and to let others win.

You have no chance of getting what you want from life if you operate from a place of fear.  List the areas where you need to have courage, then move on to the next step.

(Incidentally, it takes courage to forgive yourself, so if you have difficulty with that, make sure to include it on your list!)

3. Change how you talk to yourself.

What we say to ourselves has the power to change the way we think.  And remember, much of what we experience in life is the result of how we think.  If you want to change how you think, you must change what you say to yourself.

If you lack courage in a certain area, craft a statement of affirmation that contradicts your fear.  Tell yourself every day, “I am a courageous person.  I have the courage to [insert your statement here].”  Write it down, post it on your mirror, and recite it to yourself every morning before you start your day.  Post a copy of it in your planner, on your phone, in your car, or some other place where you will see it often.  Repeat it to yourself every time you see it.  Repeat it to your children, and they will learn to be people of courage, too.

Setting yourself up for a prosperous and fulfilling new year requires freeing yourself from the negativity of the past, looking ahead instead of behind you, and plucking up the courage to overcome whatever has held you back in the past.  Set your goals, define the actions you need to take, and then cultivate the mindset and the attitudes you need to create the future you want.

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