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7 smart goals to kick-start 2019

Friday January 4 2019

Setting goals in this new year helps to clarify the direction of your life.

Setting goals in this new year helps to clarify the direction of your life PHOTO | FOTOSEARCH 

JAMES KAHONGEH
By JAMES KAHONGEH
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It is 2019! Obviously, there are areas of your life that you hope to revamp for a happier and more fulfilling year. It could be your finances, relationship or emotional health. Or you wish to write a book or start a business. Setting goals helps to clarify the direction of your professional, financial and spiritual life and keeps you grounded on what you want to achieve.

And what a better time to set your goals than at the start of a new year? We invited a couple of experts to tell us how to go about this.

1. FINANCIAL GOALS

“This new year may turn out to be just like the years before it unless you resolve to do things differently. Make 2019 the year of your financial breakthrough.” Samuel Tiras Wainaina, financial expert.

Many millennials are struggling with bad debts today because they borrowed money for the wrong purposes, such as consumption and betting. Borrowing money without a concrete repayment plan is suicidal. This year, keep away from expensive, convenient mobile loans.

Start treating savings as delayed consumption. Without discipline to save, it is not possible to invest. Some of the simple time-tested saving strategies that you could employ this year include paying yourself first, setting aside a minimum of 10 per cent of your earnings and the check-off mechanism where money goes directly into your savings account.

Save money for investment purposes. Keeping idle money in a low interest earning account is a loser’s game. Based on your financial goals, increase your savings as your income grows.

The journey to financial freedom has many pitfalls. Avoid get-rich-quick schemes that promise abnormal guaranteed returns. Never invest in a project before consulting. Always work with a budget as your guiding tool. A budget is a statement of personal goals in monetary terms.

This year, be disciplined to follow through your budget. Money is a good servant but a terrible master if left untamed. To avoid living in financial wilderness and financial illiteracy in 2019, invest in relevant books and attend seminars for insights and to help change your financial attitudes.

Apply this knowledge to build sustainable wealth through savings, prudent investment and risk management. To paraphrase words by prophet Hosea, “People perish in poverty for lack of financial literacy”.

Remember, there is never a money problem in the world, rather, an idea problem, therefore be on the lookout for unmet needs in the market as an opportunity for entrepreneurship.

Financial security is enjoyed by risk takers, people who get their hands dirty in the trenches and are patient, people who sacrifice time, comfort and reputation to achieve their goals.

Through regular monitoring of your recorded performances, you will be able to gauge your progress and make necessary adjustments. If need be, appoint a trustworthy friend as an accountability partner to keep you in check as you execute your financial plan. While at it, do not be too hard on yourself. Remember to have fun.

2. SPIRITUAL GOALS

“It is never too late to start living your life to the fullest in God and to be what He had intended you to become. For a fulfilling 2019, seek your purpose.” Jennie Karina, Christian leader and author.

Spirituality provides you with the strength and wisdom necessary to overcome the challenges in your life. The surest way to develop and strengthen your spirituality in 2019 is to grow your intimacy with Jesus Christ.

To do this, you need to spare at least 30 minutes daily to read the Bible and to meditate on the Word of God. Mediation helps you to get revelation on the scriptures for spiritual depth.

Make it a practice to pray every day. It is through prayer that you address God directly, hear Him and get His guidance in your life. Tithing will teach you to put God first when it comes to money. This also eliminates your obsession with money.

Start to volunteer at church and in your community. Volunteering emphasises the importance of serving others through our talents and gifts and to be selfless.

To overcome distractions in your spiritual life this year, involve God in everything you do and share your concerns with Him. He will make you pure and enable you to overcome any temptation.

As you walk with God in prayer and through reading His word, your habits will start to change while your desires and way of life transform. Growth in spirituality converts you into a Christ-like person, which is what the Bible challenges Christians to become.

This year, start your spiritual life afresh. Forget the evil past. Believe in yourself because God created you with a unique individuality.

3. RELATIONSHIPS GOALS

“A strong, heathy and meaningful relationship that glorifies God is anchored on the pillars of communication, honesty, consultation and the ability to acknowledge and play one’s role in the relationship,” Pastor Michael Kabugi, New Life Counselling Centre.
For your relationship to flourish this year, try to do different things from what you did in 2018 and the years before it.

Involve your partner in your life, save and invest together, and share your concerns and insecurities with them for a firmer bond. Being genuinely supportive of your lover is the recipe for a lasting relationship.

A couple that spends enough time together can overcome any setback. In this age when everyone is busy working, studying and chasing success, relationships are sometimes cast to the backburner.

This year, ask yourself: Why am I in this relationship? Is it a priority? Can I do without it? How much can I sacrifice on its account? Answering these questions will make it easier for you to understand where the relationship fits in your life.

Godliness is the basis of any meaningful relationship. You are able to enjoy the fruits of the Holy Spirit, including love, joy and peace. For God has given us life, He must also control our lives, including our relationships. When you allow God to manifest in your life, the relationship becomes a divine encounter, making courtship smooth, straightforward and as clear as a bell.

Dating smoothly has become more difficult for young people owing to a host of challenges. The congregation, family and friends sometimes scrutinise young people too much, keeping them from pursuing a healthy relationship. For a solid relationship in 2019, be authentic.

Do not push your limits or imitate your peers. Set your own standards to keep off frustrations. If you are in the relationship for the right reasons, carry on with it for God will see you through. Proverbs 29:25 warns us, “It is dangerous to be concerned with what others think of you; but if you trust the Lord, you are safe.”

Seek essential relationship advice from those that you look up to and attend seminars on family and relationships.

If you intend to start a family this year, spend enough time together during courtship and study each other. As you eventually step into marriage, do so with God. He alone is the author and finisher of marriage.

Many young people are in stuck in relationships that lack progress. When you commit yourselves to God, you become happier together. Effecting your joint plans becomes easier. You also become open to your spouse without feeling as though you are ceding important ground. All these signify growth.

4. PERSONAL DEVELOPMENT GOALS

“Happiness comes from knowing that your life is better every day than it was the day before,” Jeff Nthiwa, life coach, Destiny Life Coaching. This year, commit to the philosophy of constant and continuous self-improvement in every area of your life.

Develop financial discipline, time management and improve your work ethics. You could also learn a skill, write a book, change your attitude and be more self-aware for a fulfilling life.

Create tangible goals this year. Avoid wasting time and money on activities that lack clear outcomes. Instead, let your desired outcomes dictate what you do. This will also help you to determine whether the activity is worth your time, effort and resources.

Identify the different experiences you want in your life this year, and create a strategy for attaining those experiences. This year, only take on purposeful projects, not just endeavours that keep you busy. Do not be afraid of striking out engagements that do not improve your life.

Focus on daily rituals or habits that empower you. Identify role models who are living the life that you dream of. Seek to emulate their habits, commitments and attitudes in life. Success is the habit of constantly striving to be a better version of yourself.

To stay committed to your personal development, join a peer group of like-minded young people who share your values and passions. Avoid groups where you are always giving insight but getting none.

To measure your progress, create a long-term goal of, say, 10 years, then break it down into phases of five years, two years and so forth. This way, it will be easier to monitor how much you have done and achieved within these shorter timelines.

Most people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can do in 10 years. Whenever possible, consult a life coach.

5. EMOTIONAL GOALS

“It is important to prioritise your emotional wellness this year. Lack of balance in the body and mind affects the psychosocial, cognitive and spiritual domains of your life. Seek balance in these facets of your being for a healthier, happier life,” Josephine Muthamia, clinical counselling psychologist, University of Nairobi.

The emotional aspect of our life is given less attention because it can be controlled by the physical and psychosocial elements of our life.

Emotions usually go to the unconscious level when they are poorly controlled. For emotional wellbeing, avoid suppressing your emotions. Instead, express feelings of grief, cheer and anxiety fully when you experience them. Bottling these up could lead to more serious problems at work, school and even in your relationship.

When evoked by an incident in life, suppressed emotions become conscious. This explains why some people react differently to stimuli because they did not deal with their past emotions adequately.

This year, endeavour to develop a high degree of self-awareness, this way, you will be able to stay conscious of yourself and your environment. Keep away from psychoactives (elements that could alter your mood, feelings and decision-making capacity) substances such as alcohol and drugs.

You have the power to control your emotions and to cultivate emotional vigour. Choose to engage the acceptable behavioural patterns to save your body and mind from undesirable consequences. Strike a balance between work and recreation. Spare time to pursue things that make you happy.

Learn to manage your stress through relaxation methods such as deep breathing, meditation and exercise. You could also alter situations that cause you stress.

Emotional health is a skill acquired through mentorship, counselling, learning and practicing healthy habits. You can develop a checklist of the areas you would like to focus on this year and discuss them with your counsellor.

6. HEALTH GOALS

“Your ability to achieve all other goals in life is dependent on your good health. Make your health a priority this year,” Dr Michael Orenge, Doctors without Borders.

This year, aim to eat healthy and quitting unhealthy habits that increase the risk of disease.

Today, lifestyle diseases such as obesity and diabetes are the leading cause of illnesses and deaths around the world. In 2015, cardiovascular diseases alone killed 8.8 million people globally, for instance.

Cut down your intake of artificial sugars, fats and salt. While it is impossible to entirely replace exotic foods with traditional ones such as millet and cassava, eat these whenever you can. Reduce your consumption of red meats and go for white meats. Stop smoking and taking alcohol.

It is also important to know your health status. Go for regular check-ups to measure your weight, to check your blood pressure, have a blood sugar test and to screen for cancer.

By doing these simple tests every three months, you will be able to track your progress as you aim to become healthier. You will also eliminate the likelihood of a disease advancing in your body without your knowledge. An intervention can then be made early enough to prevent a disaster.

7. FITNESS GOALS

“It is unsustainable to set short-term fitness goals that involve heavy cuts on your food intake and extreme workout. You are likely to fall back to your old unhealthy habits sooner than later,” Stephanie Mwaura, fitness coach and personal trainer.

The body functions better when it is regularly exercised and moved. Fitness improves your quality of life and boosts your self-esteem. Make fitness a priority in 2019.

Start by setting out a vision board and plan. Draw a schedule on what days you will exercise, where you will exercise and for how long. Write down a weekly food journal – a record of what you eat and drink. Evaluate it and make changes where necessary.

Have a long-term goal to improve your lifestyle. Make small sustainable adjustments to your life now, not just resolutions in January. As long as the plan is pegged on changing habits, you are likely to succeed. As you do this, stay away from fads and plans, quick fixes and timed diets and regimens that are too fancy.

Housework, taking the stairs and walking have the potential to keep you fit when done consistently. Hang out at outdoor places, swim and cycle. Make movement your lifestyle. Improve your daily activity until it is like clockwork.

As a young person with energy to spare, exercise regularly. This will set a good precedence for your sunset years and retain your agility as you grow older. Avoid being sedentary. Spare an hour every day for a vigorous exercise. A simple one-hour run can break down up to 755 calories in your body.

It is free to walk, run, cycle or hike, so you have no excuse if you are unable to subscribe to a gym. If you pay a trainer or to use a gym facility, consider it an investment in yourself and make the most of it. If you can, hire a fitness coach to help you achieve your fitness goals.

Workout can become frustrating if you push yourself too hard and expect instant results. It is not possible to shed weight you have packed up for years in a month. A standard workout programme requires at least 12 weeks to achieve any meaningful results.

Enrol for a programme that suits you and stick to it. When you conquer one hurdle, go for a higher one. It becomes more exciting as you go.

Sleeping better, making healthier food choices more consciously and exercising less strenuously are all markers of good progress in your fitness regimen. If your water intake increases, your clothes fit better, you start looking younger, feeling happier and having mental robustness and experiencing lower stress levels, it shows your body is fit and functioning well.

Over and above everything, seek to be a healthier version of yourself this year. Eat well as an act of self-love and treat your body like the temple that it is. Stay fit and stay happy.

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