I have always admired the character of Josephine March in Little Women. When I was a little girl I took great solace in her confession that she was hopelessly flawed and was inspired by her honest and very real struggle to be the person she really wanted to be. It is a struggle that I certainly share as do many other people I guess, which is maybe why making resolutions for the new year is both appealing and popular.
I spent years setting the same kinds of resolutions for the new year: lose weight, cut back on spending, stop eating so many sweets, stop drinking so much, stop watching so much TV- all without success, before I realized it would be more effective to set positive goals and add good things into my life instead of always taking the negative approach and trying to take things away.
I have a rebellious streak and in my quest to know myself better have confirmed that when I make a resolution to stop doing something, it only makes me want it more. I was reminded of this again recently when I forgot all this and decided to quit sugar for good. I managed it for about three weeks before it all fell apart with a giant bar of chocolate. Since then I have reframed the way I talk about it – I am trying to increase my range of sugar free recipes and add in new foods rather than quitting sugar forever. I find positive language usually works far better and takes away the guilt that stems from ‘cheating’ which can be so dangerous for people like me. I also prefer to set goals that can be further subdivided rather than a single straight-forward resolution because then there are more opportunities to make progress.
My goals for 2016 were:
save at least $500 every payday (mostly) sell unused stuff, plan grocery shops (sometimes)
2. Health: continue practicing yoga (oops…)
increase my range of vegetarian and family meal recipes, exercise regularly (oops…), limit alcohol
teach to the best of my ability, be brave in the classroom and try new things (sometimes)
complete my college work to the best of my ability, be organized (mostly)
5. Family goals: patience and love. Be present, positive and fun (still working on this one)
This has been a good year – I can honestly put a line through some of the goals and know that I did my best to reach them. There have been some challenges along the way but I have learned a lot and made progress towards my goals in spite of this. I have tried lots of new things in the quest to have more fun that grew out of my family goals and our focus on saving and being intentional in directing our money helped us have an amazing trip home.
If you are reflecting on the year that has been, make sure you highlight the positives. Did you try anything new this year? What was the most fun thing you did? When were you happiest?
At the start of 2017, I will be setting more goals in each of the main areas of my life and I encourage you to do the same. Think about what is most important to you and how you can frame this in a set of positive, aspirational goals and then write them down, share them and make them real.
As always, I am aspiring to be a better person at the end of the coming year than I am now, someone who is closer to the person I would like to be. I take comfort in the message of Louisa May Alcott who told the story of Josephine March and her sisters so beautifully, showing that is possible to grow into the person you have always wanted to be and it is never too late to do so.