A Time for New Beginnings

Start the new year right with the best personal goals.

As we celebrate the new year, we often think of new year’s resolutions. I don’t hear people talk about them as often as I used to, but the topic still comes up. I think most of us consider resolutions a waste of time, as they’re usuallyProper goal setting can bring success. forgotten by February.

But still, a new year can be thought of as a new beginning or a new start. We hope that this year will be better than the last, that we will finally make that positive change, or at least have better luck. We look toward the future.

While New Year’s resolutions often fail, there is a benefit to setting goals. Research shows that most top athletes and business people set goals. They often attribute their success to proper goal setting. Their goals help them focus their efforts and increase their motivation.

So, how do we set goals that actually make a difference? Here are some guidelines to consider.

  1. Make your goals measurable.

    A goal should be specific so it is easy to determine whether it was or was not met. Saying you want to be a better person is nice, but your success will depend on the day of the week and who you ask. Saying that you will show some act of kindness every day is a little more manageable. Saying you will be healthier is too vague. Saying you will love twenty pounds is measurable.

  2. Give yourself a time frame.

    Set a specific time where you will check your success or failure. Saying, “I will lose twenty pounds by March first” will increase your motivation and focus.

  3. Don’t set too many goals.

    We can become overwhelmed by too many goals. Keep the number at three or less at first. If you succeed at those, you can add more.

  4. Visualize your success.

    There is tremendous power in visualization. Picture the time when the goal is a reality. Imagine yourself twenty pounds lighter. Picture the project as already completed. Be as detailed in your visualization as possible. Notice what you see, feel and hear in that moment. Notice the look on your face. Notice how good you feel with your success.

  5. Avoid self-criticism if you fail at a goal.

    You will not succeed at every goal you set. When you do fail, just start over. Try to identify why you failed and make corrections. Learn from your mistakes, but don’t beat yourself up with them. Self-abuse never helps. It just crushes your motivation and morale.


As this new year rings in, consider how you want your life to look. Self-growth is a good thing. You often can improve your circumstances. For years I have said, “I want to live my life deliberately.” Be intentional. Set a goal or two this new year, and see what happens.


Being There for Someone

We give best when we give of ourselves.

During the holiday season, we tend to think more about giving to those in need. At this time of year, charitable helping_handsorganizations generally receive the bulk of their donations. From the Salvation Army Santa’s ringing bells on the street corner to Samaritan’s Purse shoe boxes to television commercials for children’s hospitals, we see opportunities to give.

Some might say that this increase in charitable giving is simply an effort to take advantage of a tax deduction before year end, but I believe there’s more to it. The Thanksgiving holiday reminds us of how much we’ve been blessed. Beyond the turkey and stuffing, we feel a sense of gratitude for the good in our lives.

When we are able to rise above the commercialism, Christmas reminds us that it is more blessed to give than to receive. We remember the gift of the Magi, and the gift of the Christ Child. We feel more of a kinship with all people. Hopefully, we become a bit more like Tiny Tim, and a bit less like Scrooge.

Giving comes in many forms. Donating money is wonderful and necessary, but sometimes we give more when we give of ourselves. By volunteering our time, we serve others, while blessing ourselves. We feel more of a connection to the cause.

Wayne Dyer, Ph.D. once shared a great story about Mother Teresa. He said that she had gone to a city in Florida for the opening of a new homeless shelter. While there, she was asked to do a radio interview to share specifics about the facility. When she arrived at the studio, the station staff were struck by the presence and humble demeanor of this very small, elderly lady. After the interview ended, and they were off the air, the D.J. continued his conversation with Mother Teresa. He said that he was moved by her mission and wanted to personally do more to help. He offered to stage a major fund raising drive, but she softly told him that they had all the money they needed. He asked if he could do more to publicize the new shelter, but she said her team would get the word out. With some frustration, he asked if there wasn’t something that he could do. He really wanted to do something, but she wasn’t accepting his offers. She then looked directly in his eyes and softly said that there was something he could do. She said, “Get up really early tomorrow morning. Go out on the street and find someone who thinks he is alone, and convince him that he’s not.

This Christmas, it would do us all good to find someone who thinks he or she is alone, and convince them that they are not. And who knows, we might like the practice enough to continue it the rest of the year!