December 31st. New Year's Eve. Another year is behind us,
a fresh slate is in front of us. Most of us will
participate in the time-honored tradition of making
resolutions. Statistics say most of us will give them up
by mid-February. It doesn't have to be that way.
A majority of people report making
the same tired resolutions their friends and family make,
year after year. How can all of our resolutions be the
same when we are so different? As homesteaders, we have an
advantage, as we have already somewhat bucked the system.
But it is still easy to get sucked into the trap of
wanting to be, or do, or have what friends and family are,
or do, or have. This is why resolutions so often leave
people with a sense of failure. Of course we fail! Just
because we think we are supposed to want something doesn't
mean we actually want it. And if you don't want it, you
won't put in the time and effort to get it.
The secret to happiness is to
please yourself in everything you do. No one can define
the “good life” except the person living it. To make
lasting changes, real resolutions, you need to first be
clear on what the “good life” means to you.
Research has shown that there are
four main areas that contribute to or detract from our
happiness. We all seem to need happy relationships,
interesting and challenging work, financial independence,
and good health. By setting clear and specific goals in
each of these areas we are able to make continuous
improvements in our lives.
As you begin to think about the
things you want to accomplish in 2017, I encourage you to
keep a notebook where you will record the things you have
accomplished, as you accomplish them. For each of the four
areas above, assess where you are now and where you would
like to be in a year from now. Ask yourself, “What changes
do I want to make this year? What things do I want to do?
What new skills do I want to learn?”
For each area, make one long-term
goal. This is where you want to be in one year. For each
of your long-term goals, create up to six milestones that
will help you achieve your long-term goal. These
milestones are to be accomplished in two to four months.
Finally, for each milestone, create specific, short-term
action steps that you can accomplish within a month. As
the year progresses, record any wins or forward movement
on your projects and goals.
Happy relationships are important
to our physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing. Although
we have been given multiple opportunities to practice
healthy relationships, they can still be tricky for us
mere mortals. Some common relationship barriers include
the need to be right, the need to control others, the
perceived need to protect others, and the need to please
others at the expense of our own happiness.
As you begin to think about what
you want for yourself in the coming year, examine the
relationships you have. What can you do to create a
happier and more harmonious home? Remember, you can't
change anyone else; you can only change your behavior.
Spend some time observing the dynamics at work in your
home. What is happening on a consistent basis that brings
you and your family joy? How can you create more of those
moments? What is happening on a consistent basis that
doesn't feel so great? What is your part in that? What
behavior can you change to make it better? The changes you
are looking for don't need to be huge. Sometimes all it
takes to create a happier home is to commit to giving a
compliment before you say good morning. The anxiety of
hectic mornings may be solved by waking up just 20 minutes
earlier. One thing that has a proven positive effect on
relationships is to pursue something—a hobby, career, or
long-term project—that you are passionate about, and allow
others in your life to do the same.
Our homes are ground zero for
relationships but they are not the only place we interact
with people. Is there a group you would like to join this
year? Would you like to get more involved in your
community of faith or begin a volunteer project? Are you
interested in taking or giving a class? Is there a
neighbor you have been meaning to get to know better?
There are unlimited opportunities to meet new people and
to improve the relationships you already have.
Relationships are the cornerstone of homesteading
communities. How can you strengthen the bonds of family,
friends, and community in the upcoming year?
Whether or not you work outside of
the home, interesting and challenging work that aligns
with the values you hold is imperative to a happy and
fulfilling life. By committing yourself to the development
of your natural talents and by pursuing a path that truly
interests you, your work life will become more enjoyable
and more successful.
In order to become a success in
any field, you must put forth the effort required to gain
more experience than others in the same field. Because it
is often difficult to step out of your comfort zone in
order to gain the experience you need, calculated risks
are something you can purposefully work into your plan in
the form of milestones and action steps. By taking small
steps towards a large goal you put yourself in the
position to continually assess your level of mastery
before moving on to another step. There is nothing that
can replace experience. Don't be so afraid of failing at a
new skill that you don’t even try.
What large, work-related project
are you interested in pursuing this year? What does
success in this area look like to you? This is your
long-term goal. What do you need to do to get from where
you are now to your vision of success? These are your
milestones. Brainstorm as many ways as possible for you to
gain experience. These are the action steps that will help
you achieve your big goal.
Continuous learning is another
important part of a rewarding work life. It is impossible
to know everything about anything. There is always
something to learn. Continuous learning not only positions
you as an expert or leader, but keeps you feeling
passionate about the work you are doing.
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