Happy 2023! With another new year beginning, comes many opportunities to begin new habits, set new goals, and become a “better you”. These countless opportunities – both given to us and started by us – are often great, and almost always well intentioned. For most of us, the top two opportunities or “new year’s resolutions are typically, “exercising more” and “eating better”. And for others of us, the opportunities can include personally or spiritually focused goals, such as “saving more money”, “losing weight”, “spending more time with family”, “reading the Bible in a year”, and “praying every day”. The fact that many of us choose to take on new resolutions or goals each January (or throughout the year), tells us that there is an internal longing to grow, desire to change, and a willingness to improve. This longing is healthy and often helpful.
But as well motivated as our new year’s resolutions can be, they are sometimes misguided, especially when they are motivated by a sense of obligation, or a response to our ongoing feelings of guilt and shame – especially when we compare ourselves to others. Change motivated by obligation or ongoing feelings of guilt or shame will almost always fall flat and end up short of the hopes and expectations we may have. This can sometimes be the oppositive of helpful and can add to feelings of disappointment and negativity towards ourselves.
“Change motivated by obligation or feelings of
guilt and shame will almost always fall flat”
So, how can we help make this year’s resolutions and goals more helpful and effective?
1. Start with reality, not fantasy.
I’m really big on the benefits that increased self-awareness can provide. So, before setting goals, why not start with learning something new and being reminded of your natural tendencies, strengths, and blind spots. Revisit or take a personality test, such as the Enneagram Test, which breaks down 9 basic personality types. A website that I suggest is http://www.truity.com. Here, you can take a number of personality tests and learn about each of them, and yourself, with much of the content free of charge. Something I believe is a game-changer when helping people learn from their Enneagram test results is not focusing only on our “top type”. Instead, look at whether there are two or even three types that are more prominent than the rest. I suggest this because I believe that none of us are one thing and can be defined by one “type” or label. Rather, we are often affected by various tendencies, needs and motivations. These natural tendencies, needs, and motivations interact with each other in countless ways that are unique to each of us. Many of these interactions can help us discover areas of inner conflict within us. THIS can provide incredibly deep and meaningful insights.
2. Continue by thinking, praying, and sharing
Apply what you are learning about yourself by taking the time needed to think and pray about how your personality, inner conflicts, and natural tendencies connect to your values and beliefs. Consider sharing what you are thinking with a trusted family member or friend. What do they see in you from their more objective point of view?
3. Focus on the result or the journey…or both
Many of us have heard the following two statements about goal setting and personal effectiveness.
1. “Don’t focus on the destination, focus on the journey.”
2. “Start with the end in mind”.
So, which is it? Either! Both! Whatever makes sense to you. Try it both ways and decide. Or do it the way that always works for you. Again, utilize and unlock your uniqueness. Lean into to what is easiest, and what makes most sense to you. And feel free to change it up, making some adjustments if desired…or not! It’s up to you! Just be you!