Happy New Year!

Friday January 1, 2016

Our CEO, Abby White, shares some helpful tips for keeping New Year Resolutions.

The message “Happy New Year 2016” written in gold text, laid over a graduated gold background decorated with gold stars.

Happy New Year greetings friends around the world, and warm wishes for an abundantly blessed 2016.  May this year bring us individually and as a global community closer to the end of retinoblastoma for our children, and to the lifelong toll of challenges it brings to so many survivors and their families.

January is here, and it’s time to leap forward into a sparkling fresh New Year, poised with opportunity.

I expect, like me, many of you will have woken up today with resolutions and big plans to achieve them. Perhaps you plan to kick bad habits, form new healthier or more productive habits, learn a new skill, take more care of yourself, others and the environment.

I know from experience that New Year enthusiasm can fade quickly as the decorations come down and life returns to its regular demanding pace, especially if, like me, you live on your own and work alone.  Small diversions can become discouragements and rapid failure of the best intentions.

I’ve been reading a lot recently about practical goal-setting, following through and staying motivated. As one of my own New Year resolutions is to maintain this blog regularly, I thought sharing some of the tips I’ve found helpful would be a great way to begin. I’ll be using them to stay on track with my goal, and I hope they’ll help turn your own New Year Resolutions into goals you can truly accomplish in 2016!

Quote set alongside an image of a photographer adjusting the camera for the perfect shot of a view from on top of a mountain. Quote: “The world you see is created by what you focus on. It is never to late to adjust your lens.”

1. Balance Your Life

Accomplishing goals and forming new habits requires a lot of willpower. Willpower is a limited internal resource when you are stressed, tired, over-stretched with other commitments or you don’t have a regular daily routine and healthy sleep routine. Goals can be completed amidst these challenges, but they will require more time, patience and gentleness towards yourself.

Before you take on any goals, carefully examine your own mental and emotional wellbeing and your daily routine – including eating and sleeping. Perhaps this analysis will identify goals you want to develop a healthier life.

Establish a healthy mind-set before you embark on new goals. When you set your goals, consciously resolve not to let setbacks discourage you, and commit to following through on your plans, even when the going gets tough.

Quote laid over an image of a flower garden that is a riot of vibrant booms (mostly red, purple, pink and white) and verdant greenery around a tiered waterfall. Quote: “Your mind is a garden, your thoughts are the seeds. You can grow flowers, or you can grow weeds.”

2. Set One or Two Goals

Someone wise once said that if you are working on more than three goals at any time, you really have none. Spread yourself too thin and you can’t focus on anything to truly accomplish it well. Declutter your brain so it can focus on learning and growing in one of two highly focused goals. You’ll find you’re more motivated and successful.

Write down your goals and an action plan you can track so you stay accountable to yourself. Make a card displaying your written goals and put it by your bed or on your bathroom mirror as a daily reminder. Use a habit-forming app in combination with a to-do list app – I use Way of Life, but there are loads to choose from in both categories. Feel your motivation and confidence increase as you complete tasks and watch your routines become established.

Quote overlaying a picture of a large cloud in a brightening sky, with a very distinctive silver lining from the sun’s glow behind them. “The possibilities are endless. We merely have to step forward.”

3. Gradually Increase Momentum

While your ultimate goal may be to exercise daily, you’re unlikely to achieve that right away. Allow yourself time to build up a routine and willpower, and you won’t become discouraged about missing days early on. Begin gradually for a more consistent and successful habit to take root in your life.

Set weekly goals to stay motivated without overwhelming yourself or setting yourself up for failure. Aim for three days the first week, then add a day each week thereafter. As your body becomes more energised from the regular exercise, it will embrace the increased number of exercise sessions, and you will find they become easier to schedule into your day. Once you’ve established your regular routine, stay consistent in it to keep your motivation well nourished.

Quote overlaying a photo of emerald forest and sun-lit falls entering calm turquoise waters of the Rio Celeste in Costa Rica. Quote: Consistent action creates momentum. Momentum builds success. Keep increasing momentum by steadily increasing your goals.”

4. Visualize Success to Stay Motivated

Every day, and especially when your motivation is low, focus on the impact of your ultimate achievement.

A great way to motivate yourself is to create a Vision Board with inspirational pictures. For example, if your goal is to reach a target weight and feel better, choose images that represent the outfits you might wear, the food you will enjoy in the process of getting to that goal, the activities you will be able to do once at that healthier weight, and the balanced emotions you will feel.

Motivational quotes, talks and song playlists also help to rev up our inner drive. There are endless podcasts, YouTube videos, apps, blogs and ready-made playlists to inspire you out there – but be careful you don’t get so absorbed in exploring them that you become distracted from your goal!!

Zig Ziglar quote laid over an image or a young girl reaching up with a stick of red chalk to cross out the letters I and M from the word IMPOSSIBLE written on a chalk board. Quote: “People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily.”

5. Surround Yourself with Inspiring, Motivating People

The people we associate with influence who we become, and who we become determines our future success.

Identify a mentor or accountability buddy to help you stick to your goals and follow through on your plans to achieve them. Share your goals and plans with close friends and ask for their encouragement and support. Many habit-forming apps and to-do list apps have friend-sharing capabilities to aid accountability.


Remember that often, staying energised and motivated is also about who we stay away from. Life is too short to allow toxic relationships to drain our precious energy and enthusiasm.

Quote above a photo of two lab-retrievers, (one golden, one black), embracing over a low fence. Quote: “When you feel loved, everything feels like it will work out well.”

6. Record and Monitor Your Progress

Writing down your goals and specific tasks to achieve them is vital so you can monitor your progress in accomplishing them. Use one of the many habit-forming apps and to-do list apps to help with this process. You’ll be amazed at how motivating it is to see your progress grow, and many of the tools can be updated in just a minute or two each day.

Yogi Berra quote set to the bottom left of an image depicting two birds sitting on a single branch, in sharp focus against the blurred forest and blue sky background. Quote: “You can observe a lot by watching.”

7. Be Patient with Yourself and Others

When you’ve chosen your goal and revved up your motivation, it can be quite dispiriting to not achieve it very rapidly. Many experts say it takes 21 days to form a habit, but that isn’t always true. How long it takes depends on the habit you are aiming to form, and on you as an individual (your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing).

Avoid the mistake of jumping head-first into your goal and burning out after two weeks. Ease into your goal steadily. Just like any good athlete, warm up for the long-distance run and build up your motivation to a consistent daily dose. This warm up may take a few weeks or a couple of months, depending on the goal and the individual, and it’s time well invested for long-term success. Once you’ve turned your New Year Resolution goal into a habit, the action will come naturally as part of your regular routine.

Recognize also that setbacks are a regular part of life, and each can create progress if viewed in the right way. Instead of saying “this is a waste of time” or “I should have done X by now”, look at what you can do to change things moving forward to continue achieving the goals you’ve set yourself.

Life is beautiful because every day is a blank canvas, a new opportunity to grow and develop and explore how we can do things differently to succeed. What can we do today to become more efficient, generous towards ourselves, patient, resilient, re-motivated?

Quote laid below an image of an avenue of flourishing oak trees. Quote: “The tallest oak in the forest was once just a tiny nut that held its ground.”

So set your goal – aim for the moon, and if you don’t reach it, you will land among the stars! There’s no better way to celebrate the rebirth of time and the spirit of freedom and opportunity than to invest in yourself and see just how high you can fly in 2016.

What are your resolutions for 2016?

The message “Learn from yesterday, live for today, hope for tomorrow” set alongside a photograph of golden roses.
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