How to Stay Motivated This Year

By Heidi Braun
With the start of this new calendar year, 2017, you likely have been thinking about and making goals for the months ahead. Many are using this time to make their “New Year’s Resolutions.” While the idea is popular, it is important to remember that this is just man’s way of counting time and that we can make goals and changes in our lives at any time of the year. Yet it certainly isn’t a bad idea to make some plans and get motivated while we’re still in the first few weeks of January. To help you get off to a great start, I’d like to share some simple tips that have helped me accomplish many of my goals year-round. You’ve likely heard some of these before in other words, but I’d like to put a fresh spin on the ideas.
Today’s thought is: be realistic with yourself
Some projects are simply too large to accomplish all at once. Several months ago, when I moved to Ohio, I determined to keep a journal of my experiences every day. I was meeting so many new people and learning so much in class that I was certainly never going to be at a loss for material. Well, the habit lasted . . . let’s say . . . about a week. After that it was sporadic attempts to catch up when I felt a surge of motivation. Before the month was over, I was hopelessly behind. I’ll admit that (silly as this seems) I allowed myself to get very discouraged about this. The beautiful notebook I had purchased would probably be forever kicked into a corner and forgotten as might many of the memories I had failed to record.
About a week ago, I was organizing a few items on my shelf when I noticed a small jar. It had been there a while and had gotten jostled back and forth for months with little more than a passing thought. I suddenly made the connection. At a church women’s weekend with the theme “Stepping out of your comfort zone” these little jars had been given to each of the attendees. Inside each was curled a sheaf of colored strips of paper. The idea was to record important times we stepped out in courage and faith. What was my journal supposed to be about anyway? What would really matter in five . . . ten . . . thirty years? With my new method I might not remember what I ate for lunch three months and two days ago (who cares?!) but the defining moments that helped me to grow and learn would at least be represented.

Being realistic involves knowing when to say “no” and when to give a wholehearted “yes!” While it might sound fabulous to have, say, the whole house repainted by next week, is it something that can realistically happen? Failure to meet a goal (because it is overly ambitious) can destroy your motivation. This is not to squelch anyone’s lifelong dreams by saying they’re unreasonable. It’s just a reminder to all of us that we are human with limitations. God does not expect us to move mountains alone . . . and this is where the fun part comes in! As Philippians 4:13 clearly states, “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” If we set reasonable goals for ourselves (that are in line with God’s will) and do our part to reach those, then God the Father and Jesus Christ will help the “impossible” come true.
Do your best to succeed – but take it at a pace that you can enjoy and keep the momentum going. Happy 2017!

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