Christmas has come and gone. Yet again it seemed to fly by in the blink of an eye. Gosh, as a child, I spent four months excited. It began with September and the start of school. I enjoyed shopping for new folders and pencils and pens and notebooks! How fun! The change in weather left me breathless. I savored the sweatshirt, chilly mornings and evenings. In October I celebrate my birthday just before Halloween. Thanksgiving rolls around and the spirit of Christmas and thanks are in the air. When December 26 arrives, I remember feeling sad. I was not depressed, but disappointed that four months worth of anticipation and joy was gone. In fact, the entire premise of my first book, WHERE THE HOLIDAYS GO is based on this exact thought. What happens when the holidays go? Do the decorations and characters go somewhere?

When the holidays end, and January enters our lives, how do you feel? Some people feel sad because the holidays are over and their family time ends. Others feel let down because they live in a snowy area that doesn’t see sunshine for months and January is so long. Others feel relief to enter January because they have personal things going on (birthdays, celebrations, sports, etc) and some enjoy the challenge of a New Year resolution.

Wherever you fall on this scale, January marks a chance for changes. As the decorations go away, people go back to work, and the four month anticipation slips away, the joy and happiness and motivations you’re looking for are always within your heart! The change of seasons doesn’t have to ignite sadness. On the contrary, it can ignite pure fire in your soul to strive for more!

New Years resolutions are fun but typically a set up for a let-down if they’re too large and not specific. Let’s say you want to lose weight. I mean after the previous holidays, I think most of us could use a system refresher. But, it isn’t advisable to enter the new year with a generic goal.

1) Be specific in New Year goal settings. For example, instead of “I want to lose weight.” Say something like “I want to lose 10 pounds by Valentine’s Day.”

2) Make the goal measurable physically. It is thrilling to mark down a met goal in a notebook. If the goal is to lose 10 pounds, then week by week, mark down the weight loss.

3) Have a strategic plan. It is probably not wise to say “I will go to the gym.” How about “planning” the exact times you’ll go. If you know you won’t have time after work, how about planning to go at X time each morning?

4) Reward yourself for your diligence. Maybe a reward for you means a movie night or a new book. I have found those rewards kept my momentum going!

5) Forgive yourself if you make a mistake. You know, a mistake doesn’t mean the goal has to disappear. Pick up and move on. Try again, and learn from it (what triggered the mistake?) and grow.

I encourage you to keep going and not give up. I also think goals don’t have to be huge to be considered goals. Frankly, littler goals motivate us and make us want to do a little more. Consider if a small goal is better to begin the new year.

Whatever dream you’re striving for, I wish you God’s blessing upon it!

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