Can 2017 Really Be Different?

A ring of light around the moon.2016 was an awful year.

I’m being political. I ended 2015 in a major medical crisis. I spent most of 2016 trying to get well. I will forever remember 2016 as a year spent taking muscle relaxers, doing physical therapy, and learning how to cook the foods I love because I couldn’t leave the house to eat.

Many people I know had an awful 2016 as well. Sickness, financial loss, career setbacks.

It left me wondering if 2017 could really be different?

Every year, people all over America make New Year’s resolutions. Every year, people join gyms with every intention of losing weight or open investment accounts with every intention of growing a retirement fund. By February 1st, a staggering percentage give out. Will I become a statistic? I hope not. The only person

Yes, 2017 can be different. Here’s how:

  1. Set several realistic goals rather than one big goal.
  2. Dedicate a portion of each day to achieve your goals.
  3. Silence the critics who say you can’t do it.

Sound too simple? It’s not.

Let’s face it, it’s easier to knock out several small, realistic goals than it is one big goal. Instead of saying you’re going to drop 50 pounds this year, it’s easier to set several related goals: exercise every day, cut out sugar, eat smaller portions.

It’s been described to eating an elephant one bite at a time. In other words, your throat isn’t big enough to swallow an entire elephant (without choking), but if you cut that elephant up into little bites, then it’s no different than any other food.

If you can break your big goals into a series of small goals, then you can devote a few minutes each day to accomplishing those small goals. The key is, you have to spend time every day. After all, if you write a page every day, you’ll have a 365 page book at the end of the year. This is much easier (and less exhausting) than trying to write 365 pages over the course of a few days or a couple of weeks.

Last, but perhaps most importantly, you have to silence everyone who is telling you that you can’t do it. This includes YOU. If you’re critical of yourself, then the odds are stacked against you. It would be like chaining a concrete block to your ankles and then trying to swim.

Intentionally change the voice in your own head to something positive and nurturing. Surround yourself with positive people who can help cheer you on. Join online groups where people with similar goals can share and celebrate successes. Most importantly, if people in your life are negative toward you and your goals, then spend less time around them.

Remember, if you dwell on the criticisms ¬†of people who don’t like you, you’re given them rent-free space in your head. Find other things to think about. Better yet, throw yourself into achieving your goals. Silence your critics by achieving your goals — whatever those are.

A year from now, you can either be celebrating the goals you achieved in 2017, or you can be wondering if 2018 will be any different than 2017 was.

Also published on Medium.