It seems like the holiday season passes by in a whirlwind blur of shopping, wrapping paper, and shiny new toys. You quietly reflect on the season as the corners of your mouth turn upward to a small smile, remembering the excitement and squeals of delight as the children opened their presents.
It’s been less than a week since you’ve gathered the mess of shredded paper from around the ornament-loaded Christmas tree (for many of you). It’s been a hurried, but wonderful season filled with family gatherings, festive food, and gift exchanges. 2013 is almost officially over and the new year of 2014 is upon us.
A New Year Can Mean New Beginnings
New Year’s Resolutions.
It’s estimated that 43 percent of Americans make them. I am definitely part of that percentage. Every year after the Christmas excitement gradually wears off, I get inspired as I think about the New Year and the goals that I’ve set for myself.
I start to smile thinking about the freshness of a new year. 2014 is a blank canvas, ready and waiting for something beautiful to cover it. I will implement changes this year and my smile grows when I think of the difference those changes will have in my life.
To some, it may seem silly. Why should I need an excuse to change bad behaviors only at the beginning of the year? Is January 1st the only day of the year to set goals?
New Year’s resolutions are not about changing bad habits. Resolutions are about creating good habits.
If there is one thing that I’ve learned in the past year, it’s that you need to focus on the good and positive things in life, not the bad and negative.
Many things in my life have changed in the past few years. I’ve gotten married, moved to a new state, graduated college, started a new job, bought a house and helped my husband start his business. Some of those changes really took their toll on my emotions. Tolled emotions create stress and bad things happen when stress is involved.
After graduation and a few months of job searching, I couldn’t find a position that would utilize my English degree. Bills and mortgages require money, so I took a job as an executive assistant. The job itself wasn’t difficult and I relatively enjoyed my daily tasks, but my employers were difficult to work with. My manager was constantly moody and extremely dishonest. After about a year, I began noticing a difference in my behavior. I was moody and temperamental. The stress began to take its toll on my marriage.
Finding The Secret
Unfortunately for my finances, shopping is very therapeutic for me. As I was walking down a aisle of books, one particular title caught my eye, The Secret. Intrigued, I reached for the book and flipped through a few pages. I was hooked. I bought the book and read every page that night. It made me feel so much better about my circumstances. Chapter Four explains why an attitude of gratitude is vital for happiness.
Having joy is what life is all about.
The key idea reiterated throughout the book is the law of attraction.
Simply put: your thoughts control your life. Focus on the good in life and you will receive the good that life has to offer. Focus on the bad and you will receive the bad.
Implementing The Secret
After I read the book, I asked my husband to read it. He was just as intrigued as I had been. We both focused on the ideas in the book, being thankful for everything in our lives, focusing on positive thoughts and believing, without a doubt, that we would accomplish our goals. We stopped bickering and really focused on making each other happy. Within a few months of finishing The Secret, my husband had more business in two months than he did the entire previous year and I was able to switch departments at work. There are so many ideas present in The Secret that in October we bought the audio book to remind us to stay vigilant in positivity. In November, I received a writing gig and was able to cut my hours to part-time. Since that first assignment, I have received so many offers that I gave my notice and next week will be my last at work.
My most important resolution is to build my writing career. Even though I’m pursuing my dream sooner than I intended, I’m still excited about my other New Year’s resolutions.
You’ve Made Your Resolutions. Now What?
After many years of making and breaking resolutions, I’ve found a few key strategies to actually keep resolutions.
Be specific. Don’t just want to lose weight. Want to lose 10 pounds. When you have a definite number in your mind, it is easier to see results.
Have a plan. You’ve decided you want to save X amount of money. Great! You have set a specific goal. Now, make a plan on how to get there. Are you going to take your lunch to work every day? Maybe you will get rid of your cable bill. If you don’t have a plan, you will get lost and your resolution will go by the wayside.
Allow mistakes. You will eat a piece of cake or buy an expensive sweater. It’s okay. Mistakes hurt your progress, but they won’t be detrimental to your goal. Don’t waste your energy feeling guilty. Admit to yourself that you made a mistake and then forget about it. Move forward continue on your path to change.
Your Turn to Reflect On This…
So, what are your goals and resolutions for 2014? What books would you recommend that would help others achieve their goals? Tell me about it in the comments below!
P.S. For more guidance on how to actually keep those resolutions read M.J. Ryans’ This Year I Will.