New Year's Reflections, Not Resolutions

We’re all guilty of it, not to mention we’re surrounded by it thanks to social media and pop culture.

This year, I want to exercise more. Eat better. Practice mindfulness. Get that 4.0. Stay organized.

We commit to these types of goals but when March and April roll around, we are lost in the hustle and bustle of our busy lives to note any progress. The reason? Many goals and resolutions declared at the drop of the New Year’s ball are often vague, not measurable, and do not take into account our previous tendencies and habits. When you set goals for the future, they should be based on a realistic measure of your past habits and focused on a positive change that is easily attained in small degrees. In other words, your goals should be SMART. Using this method is a great way to hold yourself accountable in a healthy way and set yourself up for success.

When using this method, it is best to take a normal, mainstream goal and narrow it down to suit your needs and lifestyle. Here’s an example of how you might implement this.

Goal: I want to eat better.

Specific: I want to make healthy eating choices that fuel my body and give me energy.

Measurable: I want to make healthy eating choice for an entire week.

Achievable: I will meal prep and plan in advance the food I will eat at the cafeteria.

Realistic: There are healthy options at the cafeteria that I can take advantage of.

Timely: After one week, I will have completed my goal and can repeat.

New Goal: I want to make healthy eating choices that fuel my body and give me energy. I will do this for an entire week and will plan my meals accordingly so that I have a plan. There are healthy options in the cafeteria that are available to me and I will carry out my goal for an entire week and evaluate my progress afterwards.

There you have it! This new goal has all of the qualities of the SMART model and is a great start to clean eating. Although I hate using models and charts as much as the next person, becoming familiar with this model is so so important to making lifestyle changes that are not detrimental to your mental health. The absolute biggest thing with these goals (which is not mentioned in the SMART model) is that you reflect on your decisions when you are unable to make those lifestyle changes. What went wrong? Is your goal still relevant to you? Are you willing to try again to achieve this goal or make modifications to your original plan? I would say that this type of meaningful reflection is just as important if not more important than goals themselves.

Another big thing about goal-setting is that you cannot, I repeat CANNOT compare the progress of someone else with your own. Everyone is different and has different motivators for different things and that has no bearing on you. Focusing on yourself and only sharing positive encouragement is the best for everyone, not to mention a great inspiration.

So, for this New Year, set some SMART goals. Post them in your planner, your bathroom mirror, and in your car-- places where you will see your goals regularly.  Set yourself up for success and start the year off on a good foot with goals to be a better you.

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