Happy New Year! It’s the last Wednesday of the year. This is the time of year for fresh starts, resolutions, renewed commitments. Even though there are many points at which we can give ourselves a fresh start (new quarter, new month, new week, new day, new hour, new minute, etc.), for some reason it’s the annual start of the calendar year that is most celebrated as a time to step back, review, and set new goals and objectives.

Goals and hope seem an appropriate pairing of executive function with character strength for us to consider as we anticipate the start of the new year. How have planning and goal-settingusually worked for you? Do you have a year-end ritual of reflection and planning? Are you hopeful, such that you expect the best and confidently and intentionally move forward?

Peg Dawson and Richard Guare define the executive function of GOAL-DIRECTED PERSISTENCE as  . . .

The capacity to have a goal, follow through to the completion of the goal, and not be put off by or distracted by competing interests.

According to the VIA Character Strengths folks, a definition of HOPE is . . .

Expecting the best in the future and working to achieve it; believing that a good future is something that can be brought about.

Both goal-directed persistence and hope involve looking to the future, which is something that a lot of people with ADHD find extremely difficult to do. We tend to focus almost exclusively on the stimuli of thoughts or things in our immediateenvironment.

Goal-setting has always been difficult for me. I’ve rarely, if ever, actually engaged in long-term planning. Some of the things that have gotten in my way are impatience, timidity, and shortness of vision. But I suspect that a big, obstructing factor is the belief that planning would be an extremely boring process. We know ADHD brains will avoid boredom at all cost!

Forcing myself to engage in a task that I believe will be boring is not likely to work. So, I’m working on changing my approach by “sparkelizing” my view of planning for 2019. Sparkelizing is the process of taking something dull, grey, and boring, and making it bright, colorful, and highly interesting. That’s an important skill for an ADHD brain and can be a very hopeful activity as well!

An inviting, new planner for the new year could be a first step. How would you like your planner pages to be designed to best serve you? There are a lot to choose among! Panda planners even come in a version designed to encourage your working with your VIA Character Strengths.

Having a planning buddy or two could also help. These could be people with whom you brainstorm your goals and dreams for the year and who could help hold you accountable for moving toward the goals you set for yourself, while you do the same for them.

Have you ever created a vision board? I have not, but I’m looking forward to hearing a colleague give a presentation on the topic in a couple of weeks. Many people find vision boards helpful because they provide a daily, visual reminder of where you are headed and the goals you hope to reach. Here’s a post by Jack Canfield in which he shares his ideas about how vision boards can help.

What other ways can you think of to sparkelize your goal-setting and planning for the new year? Sparkelizing can involve goal-directed persistence, creativity, hope, humor, imagination, spunk, and belief in yourself. I wish for you each of those ingredients in the appropriate amounts to sparkelize your view of what’s possible for you as you step into 2019!

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