December holidays offer a great opportunity to be grateful for what we have and for what we have done during the year that is ending. For Christians, Advent (four weeks before Christmas) is about preparing the way of the Lord. It is the precise time to prepare the manger, a little and humble spot that his parents prepared for him to be safe and warm. He was surrounded by farm animals, but full of love and determination. He started a way in a manger.
For most Christians, these coming holidays are about making time to pray to God, to spend quiet time to have a conversation with him, with our families, and with our friends. For others, this is a good time to listen more and talk less. It is a time to reflect. Once again, it is time to prepare. While in this season, we all should see Jesus’ manger as our life and prepare it to receive the new things that are still to come to our lives and the lives of our loved ones, and to set new goals for the upcoming year. We usually prepare that path at the beginning of the new year or the end of the old year, cleaning up our houses, decorating, and painting. However, while we are looking for the perfect tree or gift, what we need to clean is our hearts, our minds, and our souls and understand what the season is all about. Advent is about preparing. Christmas is about giving. How to get ready to receive the New Year Keeping in mind that perspective, we can always do more and better. We can always be more patient. We can always pay more attention. Likewise, we can listen differently. Besides, we cannot be complacent about what we have done. We can always find new and different ways to accomplish goals and to be successful. Not only that, but we can find more time to share and to love. A good way to get ready for the New year is to set goals. But before that, I will consider self-evaluating and maybe making kind of a SWOT Analysis of us (Strengths – Weaknesses – Opportunities – Threats) considering what we have accomplished and what we want to achieve to set genuine objectives. How to set goals 1. Write and check your goals regularly Make a list of goals writing them out and display them in a place where you can see them regularly, to review your progress. If the goals have to be edited, do it so consistently. 2. Set goals for different areas of your life Not only finances or your health are important. You have to consider all the areas of your life: Relationships, work, spiritual, wellbeing, fitness, finance, vacations, emotions, time management, order, punctuality… 3. Set credible, possible, and measurable goals It would be great to establish huge goals, but it does not make any sense if they are impossible to do. As an alternative to setting a gigantic goal, create smaller ones that can be completed well enough. On the other hand, having measurable goals will help you track if you are achieving your goals. You can measure them by quantity and period. For example: running 30 minutes twice a week in place of, I will start running. Check my phone every hour instead of every 5 minutes instead of, I will check my phone less. Call my mother once a week for 15 minutes rather than, I will have a better relationship with my mother. 4. Find a "partner in crime" Set goals that can be accomplished with a friend, your wife, or someone. To accomplish personal goals is harder when you are alone. 5. Recognize your effort when achieving your goals Accomplishing goals is never an easy task. Recognizing or rewarding yourself when you achieve a goal will motivate you to set goals for years to come. It will be gratifying to see your changes and success. People around you will also notice them. So, this Christmas, let’s make a change in our lives and our loved ones. Make the gift of yourself while preparing the crib to receive and give in a new way, in a more loving way, in a more passionate way, with an open heart to new ideas, new projects, new friends. Let's start preparing our manger by sharing a small smile, a simple greeting, a short conversation, a moment to listen or help someone. Then let's evaluate our insides and set our goals. Sometimes we need so little and so do the people around us! This is how we can prepare for the New Year.