It's a new year, friends

For a week I've been writing drafts in my head of a New Year post. But it's taken this long to actually sit down and write down some thoughts. Better late than never, right? I like celebrating the New Year. I like reflection and fresh starts. Obviously, you don't need a holiday to reflect on what's going on in your life or give yourself a fresh start, but sometimes it's nice to have a little encouragement to do that. (It's also one reason I like back to school time...even though I'm not in school).
I think I've mentioned before that our friends in North Carolina have been hosting a New Year's Eve party for several years. One of the best parts is New Year's Day, when most of us get back together for breakfast and lots of coffee, think about the past year, and set some goals for the new one. It's fun, and in the process we've all learned a bit about setting New Year's goals.
1. Set goals -- not resolutions. A goal is something you're working toward, something to reach for and strive for, but also something that can adapt when reality presents itself. You don't break goals. You may not meet it exactly, but there's not the same sense of failure as when you break a resolution.
2. My friend Ryan schooled me on the proper way to set a goal: be concrete, and give yourself a specific time frame and/or parameters. For example: my goal is not to "get healthy." My goal is to lose 15 pounds by December and run two 5k races. My goal is not to "write more" but to write a certain number of days per week.
3. On the other hand -- it's also nice to have some less concrete goals. Like that I want to be more purposeful with my time, more intentional about investing in relationships. These kind of goals give me something to think about, give me room to be creative within the realities of day to day life. It's why I'm a big fan of the One Word concept. One word to frame your upcoming year.
4. Realize that you're not going to meet your goals on January 1. Which is good. Because I've got a whole year to work my way up to writing 6 days a week, playing my piano at least twice a week, and a few other goals I've got.
5. Be comfortable with the fact that some years, the only goal is -- this year has to be better than the last. That's not the case for me this year, but I've been there in the past and have had friends who are there now. And that's okay. The New Year isn't always about setting tons of lofty goals. It's about the rhythm of life, about taking stock, about not just reacting to life.
Happy (slightly belated) New Year!