It is that time of year again. With the festivities of Christmas almost over, and the lazy days before New Year lingering like an extended hangover, we are fast approaching the end of one year and the beginning of another.
This has always been considered a time for reflection. January is named after the Roman god Janus, the god of beginnings, gates, transitions, doorways, passages and endings. He is often depicted with two faces, one facing the future and the other looking to the past.
This is a good point of the year to ask questions of ourselves. What has gone well this year? Which of my goals have I managed to achieve? How have I progressed and developed? We should also take time to consider what hasn’t gone so well. Where did I fall short of my goals? What can I do to make improvements to ensure I achieve them next year?
It is a time for optimism. The New Year is an opportunity to make a fresh start, and many of us will be kick off the year by making resolutions. Unfortunately, it is estimated that by the end of January 33% of these will have fallen by the wayside and 80% will never reach fruition. The key is to start small. Don’t be afraid to set a lofty goal, it is only by stretching ourselves to our limits that we can discover what we are actually capable of, but make the first step on that path as easy as possible. Achieving that will help you to take the next step. Make sure to choose a goal YOU really want, and will contribute to YOUR life, not something you think others would like you to do. This is the only way you will take responsibility for achieving your goal. Find others that have the same goal. Their support will help you stick to the path. Take care of yourself, eating right, exercising and getting enough sleep will all help you feel more capable of reaching your goal. Know your limits, and what could set you off track, then plan how you will deal with them when they occur. Be specific, but be flexible. You should be able to revise your goals when the unexpected occurs. Reward yourself when you hit your targets, but most of all, don’t be hard on yourself. Guilt will not help you to get any closer to the goal.
At this time of the year, most of the garden is laying dormant, quietly waiting for the opportunity to burst into life once again. This is the perfect time to draw up plans, to set objectives for the year and to make preparations. The work we do now will pay off tenfold later in the year.
My New Year in the garden will start on Tuesday when I return to work. I will be setting into motion my own process for ensuring I continue to edge ever closer to my goals. I will spend the first part of the morning walking around the estate with my camera and notebook at the ready, making notes of every job that needs to be attended to, and what I will need to complete it. Any that can be done in five minutes or less will be done there and then. Why leave it? Some will be done later in the day, some later in the week and some later in the month, but as soon as I return to the shed for a warming cup of tea, they will all be written large on my whiteboard, so I can see exactly what needs to be done every day as soon as I arrive, and I can take great satisfaction in striking them off as they are completed.
At the end of every day I write my journal. It serves as a memory of what I did each day, what made me happy, and if something didn’t go too well, how I would like to resolve it in future. I have kept a daily journal for almost four years now. I love to take the opportunity to read back through previous entries, and think how getting those thoughts down on paper helped me to take action towards my goals.
At the end of every week I sit down and go through every project I am engaged in, for work, home, leisure or otherwise. I breakdown each of these projects into all of the jobs that I will need to do over the next couple of weeks, then further still into the next action that needs to be taken so each project will continue moving forward. I try to rate each task on its urgency, difficulty and the time needed to complete it. This gives me a good idea of what my priority tasks are over the next few days, and when will be the ideal time to complete them.
After a few weeks I get a huge sense of satisfaction looking back through the notebook and seeing just how much I have achieved, and how much closer I am to achieving my goals.
After such a long post about setting goals, you may wonder why I haven’t described my own goals for the New Year? I don’t want to distract you from setting and working towards your own goals by listing mine here, and if I did, I would probably have little left to write about for the rest of the year. Rest assured, I am making my first steps and I have already embarked on the path towards one of my goals by starting my training regime in preparation for a half marathon later in the year.