Today is January 10th. Back on January 1st, many of us sat down and wrote a list. It may even look something like this: quit smoking, lose weight, spend less, get organized, and manage stress. Now, it is January 10th. Today is important because this is the most common day for people to give up their New Year’s resolutions. So, many of us who wrote down their list of goals have already thrown in the metaphorical towel.If you are one of these people, all is not lost. There are still 355 days left in the year to work on those good habits. Who said that you MUST start on January 1st and never falter? This is the perfect time to regroup and reevaluate.
- Did you try to make too many life changes all at once? One of these goals would be plenty. Since we know all “resolutions” or goals don’t HAVE to begin January 1st, we could pick up another goal at any time. Which one of these goals is the most crucial to living a happier 2014? That goal should be #1.
- Maybe you were focusing on one goal but haven’t made it a “SMART” goal. All goals should be smart: Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. Often, we set a broad goal without parameters: “I want to spend less in 2014”. Do you want to spend $1 less or $10,000 less? A smart goal would be “I want to spend $300 less a month so that I have an extra $3600 in savings by the end of the year”. This goal is specific (exact amount), measurable (You can measure how much you have by end of the year), attainable (we will talk next about how to break down these goals), relevant (we have already decided that our money crunch is our #1 goal) and timely (we have monthly and yearly goals).
- Now that we have a smart goal, we need the underpinnings to make it come to fruition. If this is something you have tried to do before and struggled with, what were the sticking points? For example, if you haven’t been able to stick with an exercise routine in the past, what was the difficulty? Often we set a plan that isn’t realistic. If you are not a morning person, getting up at 5 AM multiple times a week to work out isn’t attainable. How about working out twice during week after work, and once on Saturday or Sunday? Sound more like it? Then it’s a winner.
- It is also good to think six month into the future: how would you feel if you haven’t reached your goal? If you are shocked, then you are likely to have a good plan. If you’re not surprised, then more tweaks may need to be made.
- It is always a good idea to be accountable to someone else. Share with a buddy who can urge you on towards your goals.
- Instead of an austerity goal that is based on taking things away (e.g., no more desserts), maybe it would be good to start with a gentle goal where you are adding something to your life that will enrich you or add joy. Maybe you would resolve to take an art class, try yoga, or meet up with friends for lunch once a week. If imagining having reached one of these goals makes you smile, then it’s worth pursuing.
- Mindfulness and gratitude have been shown to lower rates of anxiety and depression. Always living in the future creates anxiety. Try to find ways to live in the moment-whether it’s stopping to play a board game with the kids, taking a moment to breathe or slowing down and savoring your food (which can also help with weight loss). Gratitude through journaling or just saying “thank you” can help us with a variety of positive outcomes such as happiness and goal setting. Maybe starting here will eventually lead you to those larger life changes.
Kim Turner is a School Counselor with the Clarke County School District, a Licensed Professional Counselor and Certified Highlands Affiliate. For more information, go to http://www.kimturnerlpc.com/