Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Resolutions that Matter

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Here we are, one week into the new year. Did you make resolutions this year? If so, how are they coming? Statistically speaking, perhaps 75% of you who made resolutions are still going strong, though statistics say that won't continue for long. According to an article on Forbes, fewer than 8% actually meet the goals they set.

With that track record, you can see why there is such a jaded view of even making resolutions in the first place. Fewer than half of the population even bothers to do so. 

I think making goals is a worthwhile practice. I will even go so far as to say it is necessary. Without aiming higher, we find ourselves looking back over the past several years and wonder what progress we have made at all. Goals keep us working toward something, so even if we don't meet it entirely, we have at least made improvement. I don't care when a goal is made. It doesn't have to be January 1. Transitions are a great time to make new goals, so the new year makes sense, but goals can be made at a new school year, new summer, new week, new month...whatever. 

As I get older, I really feel the pull to focus my efforts in life. I come to realize more and more that time is limited. There are so many things in the world I would love to accomplish. There are talents I would love to develop. Places I would love to visit. Projects I would love to take on. Books I would love to read. But time is real. Time equals limitations. My focus needs to be narrowed. I need to categorize things into good, better, best and put my focus on the best things for me.

While our life's pursuits vary greatly, there are many goals and resolutions that I feel comfortable saying universally matter. There are some broad categories that are best for all of us. Let's discuss:

Role as Parent
Most if not all of you are parents. Parenting takes up a lot of time, effort, and brain power. I am sure all of us can think of ways that we would like to be better parents. One of the best ways for you to spend your efforts in life right now are in your role as a parent. Evaluate and decide, what can I do to be a better parent this year? How can I do more than just "Make it through the day"?

This year, I am determined to be fully consistent with one-on-one dates with our children. We do well some months, and then some months get so busy that time zips by with no date happening. It was much easier for us to do this when our children were younger. This year, I resolve to make sure dates happen each month. My husband is in a new calling in our church that requires a lot more of his time. I want our children to have that date time so they get that special, individual attention from their father consistently. 

Role as Spouse
The only role that is more important in our lives right now than parent is that of spouse. Think through ways you can be a better spouse this year.

My husband and I are trying to do better with our weekly date night. The reason for this is the same as the dates with the kids. Our time is more taxed with church callings and we need to take simple measures to stay connected.

Treatment of Others
We live in a world where kindness toward others is waning at best. As I have reflected on this, I have come to the conclusion that people are in more crass with each other than they were 10 years ago, and not just in social media situations. It used to be most were nice, even to strangers on the internet. That has slowly morphed into people taking unkind words even to face to face communication. I like this quote:

“On the subject of public discourse, we should all follow the gospel teachings to love our neighbor and avoid contention,” Elder Dallin H. Oaks taught. “Followers of Christ should be examples of civility. We should love all people, be good listeners, and show concern for their sincere beliefs. Though we may disagree, we should not be disagreeable. . . . We should be wise in explaining and pursuing our positions and in exercising our influence.”

Treatment of Body
I am not suggesting that we need to be supermodels here. We have one body in life. We need to take care of it. Be responsible in how you eat. Drink enough water each day. Figure out how to do some sort of exercise routine in your life. It isn't going to get easier to work in (unless you are pregnant or have a newborn, then I will concede it will get easier for you in the future). Figure out something that works for you now. It might not be your ideal situation long-term, but it can work now. I can promise you a few things. One is that as you start exercising, it will most likely totally suck. Another is that you will dread it. But I can also promise that after time and consistency, you will eventually crave exercise if you have to not do it that day. Crave it people. You will feel better and have more energy. Do it for your health, not for your weight. Exercise needs to be part of your life even when the scale doesn't budge. 

My goal here is to continue what I have been doing. Many years ago, I made a goal to be consistent in this and I have done it. I want to keep on pressing on! Many months ago, I made a goal to count my water intake to be sure I was getting enough. I wasn't! So I want to continue counting my water each day. It can be tedious, but I still need to track it to stay up on it. I use the app "Water Minder."

Serving Others
Finding a way to serve others is worth our time and efforts. This is a goal worth our while. Serving others can be done in so many ways. Brainstorm what you can do. There is a woman in my church who makes bread for people almost daily (it might even be daily). You can take meals, take treats, make a phone call, invite someone over, or send a note. You can make a goal to be very positive and kind when you run errands. You can offer compliments. You can get involved in helping at the school. You can serve civically in your community. You can serve in your church. You can donate money to organizations that need it.  

Something small I did last year that I think is a small service is I made a goal to wish everyone happy birthday on their birthday. Facebook makes this easy for those who are there (and share their birthday). I am continuing this year with this goal. It is literally on my to-do list every day.

As a new goal, I want to be very conscious about acting on impressions I get to help people. I think we often are impressed to call someone or do something for someone and kind of brush it off like nothing. I am not great at being spontaneous in life, and I think responding to these impressions require spontaneity. I know there are moments I have listened to these impressions and I have been amazed at what follows. I know others have followed impressions in helping me. So I guess my base goal is to be mindful of those impressions and willing to be be spontaneous as needed to fulfill them.

Gospel Learning/Life
There are many facets to this category. There are the personal levels of prayer, scripture study, and learning. There are the implementation on a family level. There are the examples you can be setting for your children. It can be how much you put into improving your church environment. Service can fit in here. 

I want to improve in my prayers this year. I feel they have become unfocused lately. I need to take a moment to ponder my prayer  before I offer it so I can be sincere and meaningful in my prayers.

Monetary Responsibility
It would be nice if we didn't have to worry about money/physical needs, but the reality is we do. Figure out a way to be more responsible in your finances this year. This might be paying down debt, resolving to only buy things you have the money for first, building up savings, or even something like a 72 hour kit or emergency food storage.

This year, my husband and I plan to have our savings beefed up to the point that we could last 3 months on our same expenses with no income. I figure if we were in a no income situation, we would cut back our expenses, so it should last us more than 3 months.

Conclusion
I hope this has given you some focus and motivation to make some goals if you haven't. Do not be afraid of making goals. Like I said, even if you don't meet the goal fully, making improvement is worth the effort! Don't aim for perfection. Aim for improvement. 

See also:

3 comments:

PaigeCG said...

Valerie - Your blog has been so helpful navigating my first baby! Thank you! My son is 8 weeks old and has been doing great on the schedule and I thought he was on the brink of sleeping 7-8 hours. But all of the sudden the last two days he's been uninterested in eating and very tired during the day and waking more frequently at night. I'm worried that he's reverse cycling. What should I do? I can't force him to eat, but I'm at a loss. Thanks! Paige

PaigeCG said...

A few details I forgot to include, my baby was 6.13lbs at brith and now weighs 12 pounds. I am breastfeeding. He is a very happy, easy going baby and doesn't fuss over much. Thansk!

Valerie Plowman said...

That is really strange! I really don't know why he would
Be doing this. Did then night wakings start first or did the poor eating in the day start first? If night started first, I would say he is waking for some reason (like being cold) and then getting extra food in the night so he isn't hungry in the day and isote tired.

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