Tidbits From Aria: Starting Fresh & Making a Plan

As part of the new plan for a new year on the blog, this is the first of Aria's posts on holistic healthy living.  Pragmatic and New-Year's-Resolution-hating me loves this post for its honesty and realistic attitude, and I'm sure you guys will find it useful, too!

It’s hard to believe another year has gone by, placing in our hands a new season, a new beginning. Welcome to 2015, friend. You made it. It’s a crisp-blank-page of a new day, and you’re holding the pen.  Let’s revel in that fact for a moment. 

I can assume that since you’re reading this, you’re alive, and if you’re alive, it means you have today to make a mark on that blank page. What better way to begin a new season than by setting goals? It’s cliche to discuss in January, but setting goals can help you live intentionally in order to really become who you want to be. One of my dreams is to be that ol’ granny who climbs mountains on the weekend (literally), but if I never get off the couch when I’m young, how will that ever come about? 

And so, I set goals. Small steps that will lead to that mountaintop. Habits that will build a solid foundation for the future. Tangible behaviors that will help you and me both to become who we want to be. It’s going to require thought, change, brutal honesty, and saying no sometimes, but sticking with your goals will allow you to say a resounding YES to the life you want to live and the person you want to be. 

Goal setting involves three parts: 1) Establishing ground rules 2) Self-awareness and 3) Putting the pen to paper. Ready? Let’s go! 

Before you set out on changing your life, you’ve got to first establish some rules for yourself that will help these changes be sustainable. I’ve provided some examples:
  • If you wouldn’t say it to someone else, don’t say it to yourself.  Guess what? You are valuable, beautiful, desirable, and capable. End of story. Give yourself a break. 
  • Be willing to give it time. Long-term lifestyle change is going to take time…Possibly a lot of time. Don’t expect to see immediate results, but be willing to give these steps time to take effect. 
  • Allow space for laughter and failure. You may fail a few times. Don’t let failure be the end of the story, but identify what went wrong and adjust accordingly. Laugh, because it’s not over! 
  • Be honest. During the process, you may be confronted with uncomfortable memories, feelings, and conversations. Things can only stay stuffed down for so long, so work through them now and be honest and kind with yourself and others about what you need. 
  • Remember you can only change you. Only you can control your behavior, and your behavior alone.  Flourish by taking control of your own life, and allow others the freedom to do the same. 
Maybe you can think of other boundaries you want to establish for yourself. Write ‘em down! 

Now that you’ve established the ground rules, its time to observe. You probably know which areas you have trouble in. They’re those areas you ponder before you slip into sleep, promising you’ll do better tomorrow. Before you set goals, take one to three days to simply observe your own behavior, because in order to change and reach your goals, you must behave differently. 

If you want to rearrange your finances, take time to observe what you’ve bought over the past month and why. If you have health goals, take time to observe why you eat the foods you do, and when you are most susceptible to doing what you shouldn’t. If you have relational goals, observe how you interact with those you care about, and identify your own behaviors that are preventing deeper connection. 

It may seem unproductive and tedious at first, but taking time to write these observations down is a critical part of setting and reaching your goals. This is because each action has a cause and a consequence, and becoming aware of why you do what you do will help you identify what exactly needs to change. Writing them down also helps you to see change across time. 

Alright, you’ve heard it before. Achievable goals are specific and measurable. 

My goal of being a fit granny is pretty vague, so for the start of 2015, I have set the goal of working out at least three times a week for the spring semester, as a continuation from last semester. In the past, I went from working out zero times to six times per week, and it wasn’t sustainable. Instead, I’m starting small and will work up to where I want to be with time.

An aspiring weight-lifter doesn’t enter the gym for the first time and bench 400 pounds. Or rather, someone doesn’t pin curl their hair just right the first time (I’m still working on that…and benching 400 pounds…).

Effective goal setting is taking small steps in the right direction. Want to become a better photographer? Set aside a specific time once a week or so to practice and develop your skills. Want to be more thoughtful? Budget funds from your paycheck to give to others, or set a specific time to call your mom once a week (or whatever!). Set a specific goal and give it a deadline of six weeks, two months, etc. When the deadline comes, reevaluate your goal and set the next deadline for completion. 

Whatever area you most want to work on, make a goal that is focused on a specific, measurable behavior, give it a deadline, and write it down where you can see it often.
Alright, so there you have it, a few thoughts on setting effective goals. In the past, you may have succeeded, you may have failed, and you may have done both. This year doesn’t have to be like last year. Even if you’ve scrawled on a few of the pages already, it’s still got that new-book smell, and what remains is delightfully blank.  

Go, friend. You’ve got the pen. 

And 2015 is your year. 

Why do you (or don’t you) set goals at the start of the year? What has helped you reach your goals? What has hindered you from reaching them in the past? 


  1. These are excellent ideas and all very doable if only we take the time to do them. That was my problem last year. I kept telling myself I didn't have time and I'd make up for it next week, only next week came and it still didn't happen. I've got my lists, goals and time frame ready!

  2. Thank you so much for this Aria! Usually I don't set goals for myself, but since I am now out of High-school, and not planning on attending college, I think it's time that I do set some goals for myself so I don't fall into a slump of un-productivity.


    the Middle Sister and Singer

  3. This is simply a wonderful post! So glad I took the time to read it :) I love how you dissected how to create meaningful, productive goals. I will definitely be referencing this post in future!