by Damon Carr, For New Pittsburgh Courier
A new year is upon us. One of the most often repeated statements you’ll hear people say as we bring in the new year is, “New Year! New Me!” When a person makes this statement, what’s being verbalized is, “I’m not living up to my full potential. I can do better. I will do better.”
No one is perfect. No one knows it all. No one has it all. There’s always room for growth and improvement. There’s nothing inherently wrong with striving to be a better version of yourself. In fact, it’s a good thing. The problem is many of us say “new year, new me” at the start of every year but never fully internalize or never consistently implement what’s necessary to become a better person. As a result, year after year, we say new year, new me only to be the same exact person we were in years past. There’s no noticeable improvement in our spiritual life. There’s no noticeable improvement in our health. There’s no noticeable improvement in our relationships. There’s no noticeable improvement in our finances. We can’t continue to just talk the talk. If we want positive improvement in one area of our lives or all areas of our lives, we have to walk the walk. Positive affirmations in and of themselves aren’t going to do it. Wishful thinking in and of itself isn’t going to do it.
In order to become a better version of ourselves, we have to set SMART goals. We have to adopt a new way of thinking. We have to change our daily routine. We have to surround ourselves with a community of people who are like-minded and aspire the same thing. Our behavior, decisions and actions have to be consistent with our goals. Most importantly, we have to be committed to the idea of progressive change. Commitment is required because positive change isn’t an overnight process and old habits are hard to break.
Here’s a more descriptive list on how to become a better you.
Take ownership of your life: If it is to be, it’s up to me! If you haven’t done so, make that one of your daily positive affirmations. Nothing happens unless you make it happen. You’re your biggest cheerleader. You’re your worst critic. Take stock of your life. Identify what you want and what’s holding you back.
Set SMART goals: SMART goals are goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. This acronym is used to help plan and evaluate progress when trying to reach a certain goal. An example of a SMART goal might be: “I will jog for 30 minutes, three times a week for the next three months, to improve my overall fitness level. It’s also good to break your overall goal into smaller, manageable goals to increase your chances of success. For example, instead of setting a goal to save $3,000 for vacation, make a goal to save $500 per month over the next six months.
Change bad habits: It’s important to become aware of bad habits you have and start making incremental changes with each one. It’s generally our bad habits that hold us back. By identifying what’s holding you back and identifying your bad habits, you address the elephant in the room. Bad habits are impediments to growth and progress. There can be no new you if you continue to do things that you know are holding you back.
Learn new skills: We live in a what have you done for me lately and what can you do for me now society. We have to constantly be updating our resume with both knowledge and know-how so that we can continue to grow, improve, be of value, stay relevant and be desirable. This advice isn’t exclusive to the labor market where learning new skills can increase your income. It was Janet Jackson who popularized the phrase, “What have you done for me lately.” She was talking about romantic relationships. Learning new skills and continuing to deliver value applies in all aspects of your life—spiritually, physically, relationally and financially.
Find ways to stay motivated: You will not always be motivated but you must always be consistent if you want to become a better version of yourself. As a result you have to find ways to motivate yourself to stay on track and keep pushing forward. By identifying both your goals and bad habits, you can use them as motivation. Use your goals to remind you why you’re working hard and making various sacrifices. Use your bad habits to remind you of your setbacks and lack of progress. Doing the things that are consistent with your goals will lead you to a better place. Continuing to indulge in bad habits will keep you stagnant.
Celebrate your successes: Success is gratifying but it’s generally a slow process. It’s gradual. It’s cumulative. You’ll lose an ounce before you lose a pound. You’ll literally succeed one step at a time. Be sure to establish milestones along the way. Celebrate and reward yourself for your incremental progress as well as your overall successes.
Surround yourself with like-minded, positive people: The world is full of temptation. It seems like the food that is the least healthy tastes the best. It seems like activities that are not good for you are the most fun. We all know right from wrong and what’s good for us and what’s not good for us. But oftentimes our bad habits and in many cases our addictions are so influential, we need to surround ourselves with people who have similar mindsets and similar goals. These positive relationships can help encourage us to continue our journey at being the best version of ourselves.
Happy New Year! Resolve to evolve spiritually, relationally, physically, and financially this year! When you say “New Year, New Me” this year, don’t just say it! Do what is necessary to become a new and better you!
(Damon Carr, Money Coach can be reached @ 412-216-1013 or you can visit his website @ www.damonmoneycoach.com)