by Kendra Levin
The first half of January can be a time of big dreams, powerful goals, and strong motivation. We crack the spine on a brand-new journal, draw up a list of resolutions and stick it on the fridge, throw away the old calendar and tear the shrink-wrap off an untouched one that’s still full of possibilities. We are ready to make changes and take action.
For many of us, though, that ambition melts and muddies as quickly as pristine snow. By mid-month, those big dreams have turned into a puddle of backsliding, rationalizing, guilt, frustration, and ultimately resignation. By the time February rolls around, we’ve given up entirely. We live the rest of the year as if that brief, brilliant period of inner drive had never happened.
It’s not that we don’t accomplish anything. But often, we don’t accomplish what we’re truly capable of—what we see is possible for ourselves during that magical window when the year is fresh and new.
What would it be like to continue to see that possibility for ourselves? To believe, beyond January, that we’re capable of true change? To set in motion a series of actions that carry us through a year of living closer to our greatest potential?
We are all capable of doing this. Here’s how (with thanks to author Leila Sales for inspiring this list):
Be focused. Don’t try to change every part of your life at once; instead, pick one or two goals that are the most important to you. Go for quality, not quantity.
Be ambitious but realistic. Challenge yourself with goals at the upper limit of your capabilities, so you can prove to yourself what you are able to do, but don’t set a goal so daunting you lose steam quickly.
Be a planner. Don’t make a broad goal and then expect yourself to just figure out how to accomplish it along the way. Instead, operationalize it: break it down into its component steps and plot out how you’ll do each one. Making a big goal into a bunch of small goals makes it much more manageable.
Be resilient. What will happen if you don’t do everything you set out to do this month? Probably nothing! If you don’t do every single thing on your list, it’s okay—don’t lose hope and give up on the whole thing. Every morning you get a new day and a chance to make new choices. Keep trying!
Be a Hero. If a resolution is important to you, treat it that way. Being a Hero means protecting, serving, and making sacrifices for what you care about. How will you protect this goal from whatever threatens it? How will you serve the cause that’s important to you—whether that cause is your writing or art, your health, your time, or whatever it is you are valuing with this resolution? What are you willing to sacrifice in order to keep this resolution? (Hint: it might be something you think you need but actually don’t.) Don’t forget how you feel today about this resolution; don’t talk yourself into not caring about it a couple weeks or a month from now.
Ask yourself: What will I do this year? How am I going to do it? What tools do I need to help me accomplish my goals? Thoughtful, specific answers to these questions can set you on the path to where you want to get to. And I firmly believe you’ll find your way there.
Kendra Levin is a certified life coach for writers, as well as a children’s book editor, teacher, and writer. Since 2008, she has helped writers and other creative artists all over the world meet their goals and connect more deeply with their work and themselves. She has been on the editorial staff at Penguin since 2005, editing all ages from picture books to young adult, and her books have received starred reviews and national awards. Kendra has taught classes for a range of populations from media professionals to prison inmates and has spoken at writers’ conferences and retreats in over twenty states. Her theatrical works have been produced Off- and Off-Off Broadway and regionally, and her eclectic professional writing credits include celebrity speeches, a bar guide, and Mad Libs. Her home base is New York City. Follow her @kendralevin or visit her at www.kendracoaching.com.