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Making resolutions is easy — it’s the following through part that we all struggle with, right?
The New Year always starts out with such promise. Even if you don’t make resolutions, there’s an energy and certain good vibe everyone gets from starting fresh. You feel a renewed sense of motivation to cross places, skills, activities and goals off of your life list. Unfortunately, this jazzed up feeling doesn’t last the whole year. It fizzles, and if you’re not careful, your bucket list goals or New Year’s resolutions can be overlooked. The next thing you know it’s September, you’re at CVS grabbing some chocolate and Cheetos in your pjs, noticing that Christmas decorations are once again on the shelves and you’re an older and slightly more bitter version of your former self.
Okay, that’s a bit drastic, but you know what I mean. It’s hard to keep sight of those goals within the year, a 5-year span or within a lifetime. Travel-y and adventure-y goals are particularly hard to keep tabs on. The immediate satisfaction of a new pair of boots or replacing your car’s interior is a lot easier to obtain than the joy of camping in the Grand Canyon or backpacking through Europe. And while many people can acknowledge the benefits of traveling it can easily be given lower priority than other dreams.
Whatever adventurous resolutions you’ve made for 2015 or whatever destinations you’d like to tackle on your bucket list in the near future, it can be easy to lose a little steam after the first of the year. Here are my 8 tips for staying in it for the long-haul.
* Actively work to keep the fire strong.
If you’re surrounding yourself with the aspects of your goal that get you amped up, it will be a lot more difficult to let it fade into the background. Watch movies from the country you want to visit, talk with people who snowboard or swim laps or whatever activity it is you’d like to do, or subscribe to magazines or blogs that provide you with helpful information. The more little reminders you have, the more likely you are to take action.
I personally believe one of the easiest and funnest ways to do this is to hop on Pinterest. Pinterest makes it especially easy to hone in on what exactly it is that makes you excited about a certain goal you’d like to achieve. Make a new board of whatever or wherever it is you’re interested in and pin away! I recently did this with a few locations in Eastern Europe and it felt so. good.
* Make sure you’re achieving the goals for you.
You could climb Mt. Everest or walk across the United States and it won’t really matter to you if you’re not doing it for yourself. You will get no genuine joy out of anything if you’re simply doing it out of obligation or, worse yet, for the Facebook status or Instagram photo likes. Also, you’re way less likely to actually complete something if you’re not honestly eager to do it, so you’d just be setting yourself up for failure. Do a careful look over your bucket list/resolutions/travel goals and ensure that you’re 100% committed to trying to make it happen. If not, then free up some brainspace for the things you really want to do, put on a brave face and let go.
* Budget effectively.
I mention the importance of budgeting in lots of my posts, and this one is no different. Travel costs money. It doesn’t have to cost as much as many people think it needs to — in fact, it can be cheaper than living in the US — but there is naturally a certain amount of money that will be involved. If you aren’t already in charge of your finances, then work towards getting there.
I’m still very much a learner in this category myself, but I’m luckily in a significantly better place now than I have ever been. The most important thing I’ve learned in the past year is that budgeting is never officially done. You don’t just take a peek at your bank account one month and then, bam, you’re set for the year. That might seem like old news to some of you, but it was a complete revelation for me. Now at least once or twice a month I glance at my bank account so that there are never any surprises and this has really made a difference in my spending habits.
Also, as cliche as it sounds, remember that every little bit helps. Even if I’m able to set aside just $25 into a travel fund, that’s $25 more that I have for some amazing adventure in the future!
* Break down those complicated goals.
Have you ever made a to-do list and kept avoiding one of the items on it because said task seemed so massive to you? But then when you actually start to work on it you realize that hey, it was’t so bad — it just seemed bad at first. Don’t let your list of goals for this year be like that. Chances are, those larger things require more prep, so break them down a little now.
If you’re hoping to run a half-marathon in October, then smaller goals might include: running x times per week, participating in a 5k race by May, or finding a running buddy by the end of next month. If you’d like to travel to Southeast Asia, then smaller goals might include: picking up an extra shift each week for more money, reaching out to your contacts a couple months before you leave to see who you might know there, or deciding on three major cities you’d like to hit before you buy the ticket in July. If you’d like to become fluent in a language, then smaller goals might include: watching a half hour of videos in that language each day, enrolling in a weekly class at a community college, or joining a language-based MeetUp group and attending one event per month. You get the idea!
Just remember that the most motivating of goals are specific. If you can give yourself a time frame and some way to measure your progress, then you’re golden. 🙂
* Take care of yourself.
Physically and emotionally. You’re not going to be able to tackle awesome new places and activities and dreams if you feel like shit and do nothing about it. I’m fortunate to be generally healthy, which makes it a little difficult for me to speak outside of that — so I suggest if you need help (in any way, shape or form) then you should seek it out.
As a relatively healthy mid-20s gal, I know I feel best when I’m consuming lots of veggies and fruits, drinking plenty of water and getting fresh air daily. Those three things can be real game-changers when you’re feeling exhausted, sad or in a rut. I mean, I am all for a quick dash to the grocery store for some Kraft macaroni and cheese and a pint of mint chocolate chip every now and then, but don’t make that your usual meal mkay?
* Realistically reassess.
As Summer so wisely says in one of my favorite films ever, (500) Days of Summer, life happens. And when it does, things change, and that’s okay.
If your interests or situation alters, then make sure you dedicate a little time revamping your list for the year. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with giving up on something you have no desire to do anymore, and there’s no harm in postponing something if your current circumstances make it a burden. You’re going to encounter challenges (that’s part of the fun), and while sometimes they’re worth undertaking, sometimes they’re not. You have to decide what is and isn’t for yourself.
Checking in on your list from time to time will keep this all in perspective. Maybe it’s a typed out sheet of paper that you tape to your wall or maybe it’s a napkin you scribbled on that now resides in your desk drawer. Whatever the case, look at it often enough so that you can realign with your goals. Sincerely determine what you’re capable of given the position you find yourself in, and move ahead full-force.
* Acknowledge something you’re thankful for, every day.
For those days when it feels like nothing is going right and there’s a constant rain cloud hanging over your head and like you’ll never cross a single thing off of your resolutions/bucket/life list, this helps. Even on my crappiest of days — days when I’m feeling 100% un-accomplished and 100% lost — I still have something to be thankful for. I have a place to sleep at night, food to eat, friends to confide in and a really awesome cat, don’t I? Besides, without some tough times now and then, the great times wouldn’t feel so great. Life could be so, so much worse.
* Don’t be so dern hard on yourself.
Have lazy days. Take time off. Stress about work less. Travel as much as you can, near and far. Care less about what people think of you. Unplug. Know that justifying actions based on your gut feelings is a-okay. Staying in on the weekend isn’t lame. Crying is incredibly cathartic. If you feel stuck, keep in mind that you can absolutely control your response to any situation. Things aren’t always going to work out the way you plan. You’re going to feel alone occasionally, maybe more often than you’d like. Sometimes, you’re going to fail. Miserably.
You’re not perfect…
…but you are pretty awesome!
Cut yourself some slack already! Even if you end up on a different journey than you’d hoped or planned for, it’s gonna be a pretty amazing journey, nonetheless. 🙂
What big resolutions or goals do you have for this year? How often do you revise your life list, and have you ever removed something from it? What keeps you motivated during the year?
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