There is an energy that is fresh and invigorating with each new year. We draw on this inspirational energy to reflect on the past, set new goals and make plans for the upcoming months. We usually call these our resolutions, or as my husband recently said (with Freudian undertones), New Year’s Revelations.
There are many approaches to this, and I would like to lay out some pragmatic ideas for achieving personal goals. The first is the SMART technique, which is very effective in defining exactly what you want to achieve and how you will achieve it. Let’s say you want to lose weight, as this is a common NYR. Grab a pen and paper, and start writing!
SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely. A good clear goal encompasses all five of these elements.
Your overall objective is likely to feel healthier and look better and you believe that losing weight is a key. This is fine but it is a little vague. A specific amount, such as 10 pounds, is a clearer goal which will lead to your overall objective. This is also measurable, simply by standing on a scale every week or month and noting any changes. Your progress can be clearly measured over time.
Next, make sure your goal is achievable. This is where it is usually unhelpful to go overboard and state that your goal is to lose 100 pounds. That is overwhelming and can make you discouraged before you even start. Use small achievable mini-goals so you can celebrate your progress rather than stare helplessly at an impossible uphill climb.
Is your goal relevant? Are you thinking that you “should” lose weight rather than know it is in your best interests? Is your body image distorted (and chances are that it is if you are a woman)? This is another issue altogether!
Last of all, is it timely? If you are just leaving a relationship, got laid off and are going back to school after twenty-five years, you have a full plate and likely some stress and anxiety. This may not be the best time to focus on yet another thing. Make sure your goals work within the structure of your life. Most of us don’t seem to do as well with a drastic overhaul. Instead, make minor and doable changes.
I would like to add a couple of things to this basic model of goal-setting. First, build in rewards and positive reinforcement for your journey. This involves getting to know yourself well enough to know what motivates you and makes you feel nurtured and loved. I don’t recommend “having a hot fudge sundae” to celebrate the first five-pound loss, but “buy a new book” or “have a facial” might work.
The second thing is to set a timeline with built-in review dates. For instance, you may give yourself two months to lose the weight, but maybe a weekly weigh-in, journalling or some other way to check in with yourself will keep you in touch with your goal.
Lastly, you must reflect on the question: How? Once again, write it out using the SMART guidelines. You might lose weight by cutting out pop, eating more salad, more exercise, stopping junk food snacks. You have lots of ideas, right? Just make sure they meet the guidelines, by changing “eating more salad” to “eating salad for lunch four days a week”. Change “more exercise” to “walking to work three times a week”. These are specific, realistic, measurable activities. You should be easily able to answer whether you met the “how” part of the goal. You either did it, or you didn’t. If you cannot answer that, re-word it until you can.
And now for something completely different. I want to tell you about a little exercise I’ve been doing for about fifteen years.
Once again, you need a piece of paper and a pen. Fold the paper in half, then half again and continue until it’s too hard to fold. Unfold, and you will see 32 creased boxes (or 16 if you are not as persistent!).
In each box, write something you want for the new year. It might be “lose ten pounds”, and then you can go back to the above method to plan out that goal. Or it might be “go to Vegas”, “knit a scarf”, “clean out garage”. This list can be just about anything you think of.
As you can see, it’s a lot less formal than the SMART method. It is a simple and fun way to manifest more of what you want in your life. The challenge is to fill all the squares, and then to review it periodically, crossing off the ones you’ve done or adjusting others that no longer seem relevant or important. The key once again is to look at it once in a while and see how you are doing. This is a fun, low-key way to “get stuff done”.
And do have fun with your goals and changes. Have a broad umbrella objective of “Loving and Taking Good Care of Myself” or “Getting to Know What is Important to Me” and go from there. Let me know how you do!
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I am a Mystic Angel with some Fairy energy whose Life Purpose is to learn, teach and share the esoteric and mysterious.