July 31, 2012 at 7:40 am, by Carl
As we hit the end of July, you find yourself into the back half of the year. For most people, that’s a long way away from any earlier “New Year’s Resolutions” and old habits can become reset as the energy for change has long since receded from our minds. This problem of setting goals that are now distant, especially very large over-arching goals, is why I have led my church and friends to think in smaller, more manageable bites.
But, how do you do that? Well, start with using these days to think about fresh starts. Going back to view broken promises or uncompleted goals with the point of beating yourself up doesn’t help anyone! Don’t do that. I don’t mean that you can’t learn from your past….come on, I’m a History Professor, so of course I believe in learning from the past. Yet, most of us get beat up enough by the world, and our own minds, that we don’t need to add to the problem. So start fresh.
Second, clean out the clutter. Right now, we are in the final days of adding onto our house. It has been, literally, a 2.5 year process from the moment when my wife and I started thinking about this in 2010. Not surprisingly, over the months, we’ve had to move things, rearrange things and deal with the collection of “things” that has accumulated over the previous 18 years of living here. As we now start to move into the fun phase of putting furniture and things into our new addition, it is time to clean out, throw out, old clutter.
Our lives are like that. We accumulate clutter, whether in habits, patterns or even people who are not helpful in our lives. Take stock of your life just like you would if you were moving to a new house. Do you really need to pack that stuff? Is that furniture your favorite, the best? Is it really critical to take those thing in that box that you never open? By giving yourself a fresh start with less clutter, you are in a position to think more clearly.
Finally, re-energize. School for most is still a month away, but those weeks will move quickly (don’t they always). Make sure right now you are doing things that energize you. Get more sleep. Get outside for fresh air (always critical). Take a short vacation (or stay-cation) such as a day in the mountains, at the lake or near the ocean. Or, perhaps go visit a nearby city and see the museums or take in a concert. Something new and fun to reenergize yourself. Last summer, my family took the long RV vacation that I told you about. It was a blast and we came home really focused and energized. This year we are saving money, so our “vacations” have included some trips to the beach, including just last weekend a short Creasman family gathering with my parents and sister’s family.
We get so drained going through the same actions that its critical to pick up a little energy heading into the back-half of the year. If you will reengerize, declutter and not get beaten up by your past, then you are ready to think about the next goals. As I have told you before, you don’t need to get grandiose. In fact, many of us need to think a LOT smaller in order to gain some victories! Maybe if you’ve struggled in school, your first goal is to make it to class every day for the first week, finishing every assignment. If you are working on weight, you can make your first goal small like drinking the proper amount of water in the first week or cutting back half of your alcohol intake for 1 week.
Small, short term goals are not pointless or “too easy.” They are, instead, critical purposeful steps of you making the most of the rest of the year! You can do it!