Don’t Let this New Year be an Accident

There are a few phrases our parents mutter that, for whatever reason, stick with us. Maybe the phrases are funny, sweet, sad, or just truthful. I can remember many examples, but I choose to dwell on one my dad said that taught me a great lesson. He told me once, very simply, “Good things don’t come easy.”

I can already hear some of you protesting saying that it isn’t totally true, but it is. It might not have cost you a cent or a drop of sweat, but it did to someone. Where we are is the result of someone’s work. Sometimes we are blessed to receive something for “free” or during a happenstance where everything came together to put a smile on our faces. Other times, things happen because someone saved, someone stayed up late, someone put thought into it, or someone sacrificed. The point is that good things don’t happen by accident. On the contrary, it’s the things we don’t want that surprise us and have us asking ourselves, “How? This is not what I had in mind.”

Growing up carefree, I had cultured the idea that I was going to accomplish great things. I was going to have a good marriage, a good diet, a nice checkbook, and a high post somewhere. It was just going to happen. Now that I am grown, I have faith that all of those can happen, but I understand that a lot of it depends on me putting forth the appropriate effort. My everyday decisions have to lead me there, and I should not rely on a miracle, since the principle of reaping what you sow is extremely true.

In an attempt to reverse some of my not-so-good decisions, I have tried to implement quick fixes, like not eating sugar or not purchasing anything for a period of time. I hoped that a quick, albeit radical, change was going to give me the results I needed yesterday. However, my bad habits built up strength over years of indulging them, so why did I think that a small blow was going to destroy them?

I have too many goals that I would like to achieve this year. I thought about writing them down and asking you to help me stay accountable for them, but when I started drafting them in my head, I thought that it would be too much to keep up with on a daily basis and I would, not surprisingly, fail. Our resolutions at the beginning of the year are very prone to failure because we have the wrong expectations of what we are willing to give up. A complete departure from our previous lives might work for some, but probably not for most. For this reason, I decided to have only one attainable goal: plan my everyday.

“Good things don’t come easy.”

Papi

This word, plan, has been haunting me for a couple of years. I have always seen it as too binding and demanding. A plan makes me think of lots of work and diets. However, my perspective is changing with my age. If I plan, I can do. If I don’t plan, I am not likely to use my time wisely, and I will miss out on activities I am interested in but did not prepare for or remember. My intended method of planning for this year is to take note during the day of the things I want to do tomorrow, and aim for the satisfaction of scratching them off the next day.

Because I will plan,

  • I can attempt a cleaner diet. I can carve time for researching recipes and become a better cook. If I am a better cook, I will enjoy my food more and eat out less.
  • I can invest time on me. That might be exercise, reading, or learning. This will lead me to be more relaxed and enjoy life.
  • I can be more efficient. I can combine multiple activities like listening to a podcast while cleaning, and I will accomplish more. I can also better identify when I can do things faster. Exercising after a long day is challenging for me, so it is better to do it early in the day.
  • I can learn to eliminate the things that don’t add value. As I navigate through my to-dos, I will understand what I really want in my life, clarifying for me what needs to be removed.
  • I can have more quality time with my loved ones. By planning chores and errands for earlier in the day, I can leave the evenings open for togetherness.
  • Ironically, I can have more flexibility. When you plan, you have more control of your day and can swap things around to make room for others.

With planning, I can slowly work into carving out a better me. I don’t plan (haha!) to be super strict about my day to day, but carry a list of things to accomplish and work in blocks. I don’t want to spend my family time cleaning, so it is better for me to do it early. I want to make sure I eat healthy, so I’ll jot down meal ideas before I am hungry. I want to read more often, so I’ll carve out portions of my day for it a few times a week. My planning won’t be perfect, but that is okay. I also get an opportunity to make changes and not feel guilty about it, empowering me to keep going and to try harder. It might not be easy, but I know that it is worth it.

Photo by Emma Matthews Digital Content Production on Unsplash

I won’t ask you to make planning your new year’s resolution, but I challenge you to learn to enjoy the process so you can learn new habits. Don’t expect immediate results, though. Quick fixes don’t work because we don’t have enough time to learn a new way of doing things. Think of the person that you want to be, and start acting accordingly. You will see that it will be easier to make better decisions and you can stick to whatever you want to accomplish.

New year, new you, so go you.

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