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Starting anew

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Virginia -- Brace yourselves; New Year’s resolutions are coming.

Soon, every gym across the nation will be packed with folks who swear “this will be the year!” they finally lose that weight. Your social media feeds will be inundated with “new year, new me!” status updates. If I sound bitter, it’s because there’s a twinge of irony; I used to be one of those people, too (though my wife likes to frequently remind me that I’m a “hater,” as well).

Just to be clear, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with making a goal to better yourself in some way. That with which I take issue is the tendency for folks to unncessarily constrain themselves to a predetermined start date, i.e. “The diet starts on Monday!” or “I’m going to begin saving money starting on the 1st of next month,” or “[insert cliché New Year’s Resolution here] on Janurary 1st!” Ugh. Because if you’re willing to put off a goal until the future, maybe you aren’t really that serious about it.

So why not start today? Why not start this very minute?

We hold ourselves back from fulfilling our true capabilities. Non-consciously, we tell ourselves we’re not capable of changing for the better, we don’t have the knowledge or skills we need to make the leap, or we allow the memory of past failed attempts to cause us doubt. Hesistance leads to procrastination leads to discontent leads to self-doubt and self-hate. Case and point: have you ever looked back and thought, “Man, if I had just started _______ back then, I’d have accomplished it by now?”

SO STOP IT. Get rid of the excuses. If you truly desire to become the best version of yourself of which you are capable, then get to working on it. Success waits for no one—and it’s only rendered to those who are willing to pursure it. It’s not about starting over; it’s starting anew:

- Quit focusing on what you don’t like about yourself. Sometimes it’s motivating, but more often you bring yourself down by scrutinizing your love handles in the mirror, comparing yourself to other people, or holding yourself to an impossible standard. You can accept yourself for who you are right now while also recognizing you need to make some changes.

- Frame your goals in terms of the desired end-state. Where do you hope to be in 5 years? What do you want to have accomplished? What does the 5-years-from-now “you” look like? I suggest creating a “Vision Board” as a reminder of the goal(s) toward which you’re working.

- Create S.M.A.R.T. goals. Now that you know where you want to be, walk it backwards; what will it take to get you to that point? What milestones can you identify along the way, and what will be the obstacles or challenges at each step? Only once you have made these goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely can you hope to eventually succeed.