How to set attainable New Year’s Resolutions

How to set attainable New Year’s Resolutions

By Heather Nelson

3…2…1…HAPPY NEW YEAR!

Confetti blasts and couples kiss as midnight strikes on New Year’s Day. The dawn of a new year, and a new slate, await.

And with that new slate comes a series of “resolutions” that one sets each year — and likely forgets within a week of reciting.

If January is the month for goal-setting, February is the month for all those forgotten goals.

Hey, I’ve been guilty of the whole making-resolutions-and-forgetting-them thing. It’s something about the fresh start that excites me and makes me feel unstoppable.

At some point, though, I end up losing track. Last year, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. Instead of listing every goal for the year on a comprehensive list, set goals monthly.

I made this decision shortly after I had a talk with my therapist. She said there’s simply no way you can focus on making *several* changes all at once.

I think this is why resolutions often fail. It’s easy to keep consistent for a week, but life gets in the way. (And I become overwhelmed with trying to master 10 different tasks at once.) I’ve found it much easier to set monthly goals for myself.

This month I have three things I’d like to improve (and I picked one goal from different areas of life).

Physical: continue the next four weeks of Strong Curves by Bret Contreras

I’ve been doing this consistently already, but I’ve also been making the conscious effort to go to the gym after work. I know if I continue, I’ll be better prepared to tackle the rest of the program as written.

Personal: wake up 15 minutes earlier on work days & make my bed every day

I struggle to wake up for work, and I believe that rising earlier would challenge me. I’d be more prepared — instead of scrambling, running out the door — and feel a sense of organization from merely making my bed.

Food: make meals ahead of time; more REAL food, less PROCESSED food

If I can do this consistently for a month, I’ll spend less money on and less time worrying about food! Plus, I’ll feel a lot better….

As time goes by, hopefully, the goals I’ve set for myself will become habit and less of a task.

Remember: Goals should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based).

Notice I didn’t set goals such as “drop 20 pounds in two weeks” or “quit eating cookies.” Instead, I made a few goals for myself that align with things that I already strive to do (or I wish I made a priority).

This week, I challenge you to write down a few things you’d like to work on this month. It could be folding laundry when it’s fresh out of the dryer, or spending less on drive-thru coffee…whatever you want! Write them down and store them in a safe space to assess at the end of the month.

The great news? Now, there’s plenty of time to set goals for yourself all year long. Who cares if you missed the January window?

Do you like to set resolutions? What is your technique for setting goals for the year? Let me know your thoughts.

A toast to 2016

By Heather Nelson

When they go low, we go high. — Michelle Obama


2016, you were quite a low. I’d hoped for better. I’d planned for better. I could complain about how much my year sucked and how many low points I went through, but I won’t. I learned incredibly tough life lessons. 

I was so sure that 2016 was going to be it for me — I’d find the job I wanted, my other half, and fulfill all of my life’s dreams. I’m far from checking off all of my list. 

Life tested me. I spent time on people (men), who weren’t worth my time. I lost friends, who I’d thought would be around forever. I thought therapy would “fix” me.  

I poured myself into a blog that I thought would eventually bring me success in my writing career. I moved (only three hours from home) to pursue it. Instead, the proverbial rug was pulled out from underneath me, and I parted ways with the blog. I’m glad I did.

I spent too much time worrying about how to please other people. It exhausted me. The people around me sucked energy out of me but never replenished it. It was a toxic environment. And I had convinced myself it wasn’t.

At first, I felt like a failure for picking up and moving back home. I realized, though, that the plans you make for yourself aren’t always the plans the Big Guy has for you. And while I have a tough time looking to Him for guidance, I believe everything happens for a reason. 
I’m still not working in the field I want to be. On my low days, I dwell on it. I wonder if my path in life is through writing. I wonder if I should give up and pursue other ventures. And when I’m feeling that low, I get little reminders to keep fighting.

Life’s tests, though, strengthened me.
I’m more confident in myself, more aware of my worth. I’ve met incredible people, who uplift me. (And my oldest friends continue to do so.) My family remains to be my biggest source of support. 

2016, you brought some really tough truths to the surface for me. You tested my will. You pushed me further than I thought I could handle sometimes. I’m not sad to see the year come to an end. …Because with each new year comes a restart, a refresh. What has the prospect of 2017 brought us? Hope. 

Bye 2015, hello 2016

By Heather Nelson

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Celebrating four years of friendship at our favorite place, The Sandbar.

Blogging about the year end makes me feel like a little piece of me has withered away. In a sense it has — I (could be) one year closer to dying.  (Or I could die in five minutes.) Regardless, I’m one of those people who hangs on to bits of the past. If you took a peek at my closet, you’d find my favorite Barbie doll from when I was three, an accordion folder of treasured schoolwork, and old issues of Sports Illustrated I can’t seem to throw away. It’s funny, though, because I don’t look back at 2015 with much endearment.

2015 kicked my ass.

I relate it to this: I fantasized that when I graduated from college, I would have all the answers. I’d have the dream job, the dream life that I’d long imagined as a child. I’m sitting in a coffee shop (writing this) six months later, and I have none of these things. 2015 got me on that one. I didn’t know what 2015 had in store — the possibilities were wide open. That’s the rest of adulthood.

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Pledge class 2011 in initiation order for the pub crawl.

Life threw me quite a few curve balls. The first: I failed a journalism class, which left me three credits short of receiving my degree from the University of Kansas. The second: I quit my full-time job as a campus missionary to take care of myself, which leads me to…. The third: I was “diagnosed” with depression and general anxiety — I started seeing a therapist (major humility for me). The fourth: I spent two months in unemployment limbo.

Through all of these things, I’ve learned the art of vulnerability and humility. It’s important to share experiences that you’ve learned from so that others don’t feel alone. If 2015 taught me anything, it’s that. I’ve spent hours, days, weeks, thinking, “I must be the only miserable person on the planet.” (Really, what percent of 23-year-olds are working at their dream job?) It’s hard to exit the black hole in your mind.

So, here’s my suggestion for 2016: share life with one another. Worry less about closing yourself off from people who might hurt you. (Be less of a robot.) Pain is part of life. (Trust me, I’ve experienced plenty of this.) Listen to your gut. (*Shia LaBeouf voice* just do it.) If you feel that tug to share an experience, advice, a hug, a hand… Do it. The world needs extraordinary humans to spread love.

It’s too late to say sorry, 2015, but we’re gonna have an adventure of a lifetime, 2016.

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Nelson family Christmas 2015.