Picture the scene. It is New Year’s Eve, far too many years ago to admit to. A group of enthusiastic – and rather tipsy – 20-somethings gather together to bring in the New Year. Resolutely, they avoid resolutions as being so last year, and instead make New Year Goals. Just one thing, one action, to commit to and achieve in the coming year.
I don’t know how many of the other people in that room did, in fact, achieve their goal. I do know that I did, and in doing so, discovered something remarkable about myself. That remarkable thing is that if I keep it simple and only focus on one thing, I actually have a chance of achieving it.
Back at the very end of 2005 (OK, I’ll admit how long ago it was, hard though it is for me to believe it now) my goal was to travel to Kenya. It had been an ambition of mine for as long as I could remember, in that way that you have dreams that you never imagine might actually come true. But by the time New Year’s Eve 2006 came around, I had not only planned and fund-raised for a trip to Kenya, I had spent 3 months there – 3 months that continue to influence my mindset and viewpoint on life today.
Every year since, I have tried to replicate this extraordinary feat of perseverance and determination. Or at least, I have tried to stick to a New Year Goal for a whole year. I have never managed it since. Thinking about it now, I have realised the key difference between 2005 and every other year. Ever since then, I have gone back to my previous style, trying to think of behaviours that I wanted to change or improve. What I have not done is chosen one thing, one action, that is both achievable and something that is concrete enough to be ticked off on a to do list once complete.
Life these days is rather more complicated than it was in 2005. For a start, back then I did not have to work in order to afford my childcare bill, and could quit my job and volunteer on another continent for 3 months. Now it takes me about that long to plan a trip to Ikea, and twice as long to recover from it. So I am not going to set one, big, New Year Goal for myself this year. Instead, I am starting Challenge 2019. Every month, I will choose a new, smaller, inevitably duller, New Year Goal. It must be achievable within a month, on a budget, with no time and even less energy (well, hopefully it will be at least two of these things!) And finally, it must be something that will help me, or us as a whole, messy, family, live a more simple, sustainable life.
Challenge January is coming soon, and already slightly planned… Any suggestions for Challenge February will be gratefully received!