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New year, new who? On staying on top of your goals

by Devin D. Bridgers

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It’s usually around December 15th that you begin to see it. Newsfeeds overloaded with sentiments like “New Year, New Me!”, “Leaving such-n-such in 2017” or my favorite “Walkin’ Into 2018 Like…”. Don’t get me wrong, I love the ambition, but for most of us as soon as February 1st slides around, the biggest thing on our mind is “Hold UP! Am I REALLY about to be single AGAIN for Valentine’s Day?”

Resolving to enhance a previously inactive muscle in self (like crippling laziness or a lifetime of deeply rooted procrastination) is more than a notion. Simply saying it once at the top of the year and sticking it to your vision board won’t get you there (And TRUST my vision board is LIT! Layers of color, word art?!... It’s poppin’!). Wanting to be better in 2018 might cost you that after work nap, but aren’t your dreams worth it?

So, what can you do to avoid the inevitable burnout? The one that comes with you blasting “Fight Song” on January 1st with heightened anticipation of your summer 18’ body! The one that’s got you pumping out repetitions on the elliptical and sweating through new workout clothes. The one you quickly get tired of hearing by January 15th, at which point you hop off the treadmill and make your way to the nearest Popeyes.

How can you make sure that you hold strong to those goals for the next 11 months? Consider these tips if you're already tippy toe deep into the new year and thinking of letting those goals go for just one more day.

 START WITH A VISIon

“My people perish (are destroyed) from lack of knowledge…” (Hosea 4:6). That’s Bible! While I won’t preach here, the fact is regardless of what your belief system might be, a dream without a plan is just a fading idea (Also see: James 2:14-26). So write it down or put it up on a board so that you can regularly see the mission and move in the direction of it.

TAKE ONE STEP

Let’s for a moment say you're like me — full of BIG dreams and plans but easily defeated after you’ve overthought every detail of how it could go right, or worse, how it could all go wrong. First of all, stop that! Instead, think of one attainable goal and build from there. For example, instead of thinking tI was going to write a book this year and never getting one page done, say "Today, I am going to write a paragraph. Tomorrow I will write one more." More than likely whatever you set out to do you will push yourself beyond that initial goal, but conquering one small thing regularly will get you closer to the mark while keeping you motivated.

GET A SYSTEM OF ACCOUNTABILITY

Although for some dependence on self is all you need, many of us do our best work when we have someone to answer to. I've found that the feeling of disappointing myself, my best friends, my mother or grandmother has a really nagging way of getting under my skin and inspiring me NOT to fail. There’s this concept that has been so lost on many people that’s called “keeping your word.” The way it works is if you say you're going to do something, you do it. That’s it. Get you a group of people around you who will hold you accountable, but also encourage you because you see them moving in the path of their own goals. As much as you love the homies, if they aren’t pushing you, add some motivating homies to your roster. Like girl scouts taught me “Make new friends but keep the old, one is silver and the others gold.”

CELEBRATE YOUR WINS BOTH BIG AND SMALL! 

Last year I put together my first short film. When I tell you I'm almost religious when it comes to being a procrastinator, that doesn’t even begin to tell the story. I waited until a week before it was due to complete it. To my own disbelief, I DID IT! And even though it was not a winner, I celebrated every second of that 5-minute short film because I completed a goal. It may seem crazy to celebrate what on paper is a loss, but I learned so much from the experience that I can use forever. It wasn’t really a loss at all.

GET OUT OF YOUR OWN WAY!

I think this is the most important piece of advice I can give you and myself too. In point 4 I’d almost given up because of my daily negative repetitions to self; “There’s no point,” “You don’t have the tools you need,” “You have never done a film before.” I had a legion of reasons as to why it couldn’t be done. At the end of those thoughts was a completed project. Every day that my mental tape deck gave me a reason I could not, I pushed through and told myself how I could, and that I actually WAS doing it. This year, choose yourself and your dreams. When your thoughts say you can’t, do something to show yourself you can. It seems crazy how simple it really is. Although the idea is simplistic, the work might not be. Prepare yourself, then dive in. Wholeheartedly.

A few years ago, someone proposed the question, “How much could your life really change if you committed to your dreams for one entire year?” I will add to that question now, are you willing to never find out? If you like mediocrity, disregard all of this. If you are, however, curious about your potential, it would make no sense to not invest in yourself wholly and see where it could take you. I challenge you (and me) to truly commit to 2018! I guess we can't all have Cardi B’s 2017, but we can all get a lot closer to it. The only difference between you and Oprah, Shonda, and Issa is that they are doing the work. 

It’s a new year. Who are you going to be?