As is common during the first weeks of a new year, the air is laden with the energy of forward motion. Many of us resolve to use this time to start new habits and break old ones. For example, you may resolve to meditate once a day and to spend less time watching Netflix. Often, we stick to these resolutions for a few days or weeks before we slip back into our usual behaviors.
We may blame it on “life getting in the way” or an increased work schedule following a holiday lull. Whatever the reasons, many of us give up on our resolutions within the first three months of a new year. According to U.S. News, 80% of New Year’s Resolutions fail by February. So even though we start out full of fervor and vim, the odds are stacked against us.
How do we hold on to that spark for the rest of the year? The spark that inspired us to want to change our lives for the better? In order to answer that, it’s important to understand why so many of us don’t succeed with our New Year goals in the first place.
One of the reasons we don’t succeed is because we don’t choose the right goals. Oftentimes, we offer vague resolutions, such as meditating more, but make no actionable plans to follow through. We hope to figure it out as we go.
Continuing with meditation as our example, let’s take a moment to imagine how a typical year might pass for some of us:
In the beginning, we’re excited and make our lofty resolution. We stand around with loved ones—or retreat into ourselves for personal reflection—and decide, “I’m going to meditate more often this year.”
For the first two weeks, we do it daily. Five minutes after we wake up. Half an hour during our workday commute. In the final moments before sleeping. For those two weeks, we feel amazing and we know that—this time—we’ll stick to it.
But then we reach week three. It’s mid-winter and business has picked up. We come home a little more tired than usual, because it gets dark so early and kind of throws off our rhythm. All we want to do when we get in is crash on the couch and catch up on our favorite shows.
The little voice in the back of our mind whispers something about how we forgot to meditate that morning. That’s okay; we wave it off, promising to do it in the five minutes before bed. We have dinner, watch our shows, and then it’s time for bed. We go through our nightly routine and lie down, and it’s not till morning that we realize we skipped a day.
Maybe we maintain it for a few more days, but the winter blues hits and another day is skipped. By summer, we’re stressed about not meditating. We spend hours complaining to our friends that, because of said stress, we can’t focus enough to meditate and have locked ourselves into a vicious cycle.
We turn our heads when asked how the meditating is going, disappointed in ourselves. We avoid the Halloween party we always go to because we know all of our meditating friends will be there. (That’s probably unlikely, but bear with me…this is the metaphor I chose, and I’m sticking with it.)
Just after Christmas, we admit that maybe we didn’t do so well. But, you know, we’ll definitely do it in the New Year. This time we mean it. For real. Like seriously.
Whether or not your goal is to meditate more, get more exercise, be more patient, make more money, or anything else—it is extremely easy to fall short when you don’t have a real, actionable plan in mind.
As you can see by now, this isn’t a strictly Pagan post. I feel this topic is valuable to people from all walks of life. Since my practice is so integral to who I am and how I live my life, it seemed appropriate to speak on the topic of motivation here.
I’d like to offer you some of the ways I have used in the past and some I’m implementing this year to keep and track my goals for 2018.
1. Bullet Journaling –
I began bullet journaling in July, and it’s changed the way I think. I’ve never been good at journaling, nor have I ever actually used a planner for more than a few weeks. The beauty of bullet journaling, for me, is the freedom to do it however the heck I want. I want to track how much water I drink? Put it in the journal. Need a simple calendar? Easy as pie.
In 2017, I kept it simple and practical. In the front was the year at a glance, a few pages with holidays, birthdays, and a 12-month calendar. Immediately following was the month in overview, my tasks for the month, followed by short, daily diary-style entries; later I added a section for the Tarot card I pull each day.
This year, I’m doing many of the same things, but using different methods. I’ve also added some personal trackers for things like savings and my mood. There’s even a page for my goals. Bullet journaling is the main tool I’ve used to better organize my life in the last six months, and almost all of the methods below can be added your own journal. It’s definitely a habit I’d recommend to anyone wanting to live on their own terms.
2. Daily Goals and Tasks –
In my bullet journal, I still have a dailies section, but instead of a feelings diary (for which I now use a simple mood chart), it is my guide for each day. Sometime before bed, I prepare a list of the next day’s tasks and goals. I leave space for the card I pull, and for anything new in my life. I try to keep the goals simple, to ensure that I can get them done with as little stress as possible.
One thing that motivates me is previous success. So, if I have three or four tasks that I can do within the first hour of waking up—for instance, meditating to pull a Tarot card, doing squats, and drinking a full glass of water—then it sets the tone for the rest of my day. Each time I check off a task, it sends a message to my brain that tells me I’m being productive and rewards me with a dose of dopamine.
According to Entrepreneur.com, we actually learn best through success—not through failure. Failure can be an excellent teacher, but our brains are naturally more attracted to success. This means that if we’re trying to create a new habit, we’re more likely to succeed if we have smaller goals towards our ultimate desire.
3. Accountability Buddies –
One of the best ways I find to stick to my goals is having someone other than myself to hold me accountable. This other person doesn’t always have to be someone I know. They don’t even have to be real.
I have no idea if anyone is actually reading this blog, but I choose to believe you’re there. In my head, you’re sitting at your computer or on your Monday morning commute, and you’re coming here every week. So, I’ve got to show up for you.
If you partner with a friend, make sure you’re both on the same level. You want to motivate one another, so it’s crucial that you’re both committed to your respective goals. This means that both of you are taking the steps necessary to achieve them, are in similar places in your journeys, and can offer each other support as you travel your paths.
When someone else is counting on you, you’re more likely to step up and follow through. First, decide what your goals are. Decide the milestones you’ll need to reach to get there. Then find someone in a similar place, with goals and the steps they need to take, and keep each other going. Be there for one another during the slumps and cheer each other on during the good times. You’re far more likely to succeed when you have someone to share your journey.
4. Choose the Right Goals –
The last thing I want to mention isn’t exactly a method for success throughout the year, so much as it is the key factor behind lasting goals. Choosing the right resolutions could mean the difference between an abundant, successful year and a year of disappointments.
Do you pick goals because they seem like the right thing to do? Did you decide to meditate more because you want to fit in with all of your meditating friends (the ones from the party), instead of pursuing something that’s true to you?
In order to triumph over procrastination, fear, and anything else that may come between us and our goals, we have to choose ones that are aligned with what we truly need and desire.
What are your goals this year? How do you plan to achieve them? Let me know in the comments and be sure to like our Facebook page! (If you don’t already…)
May you succeed in gaining all you seek, so be it in love.
With all my heart,
Lady Morgana Brighid HP MCCA
I’m tepid towards the “listicle” format, so I’ll definitely be returning to the more intimate style. But would you folks hate it if I did these every now and then? Let me know in the comments!