Every year on January 1st we all sit back and pick a few things we need to change about ourselves, or a few things in our lives that need “fixing”. Goals are great, but let’s be real here. Most of the time New Year’s resolutions are vague aspirations that are a result of us feeling like some part of our life is broken or inadequate. We see the one or two extra pounds of holiday weight and think “Starting January 1st I’m going to get in shape!” We notice our bank account has dwindled down to the last few cents and promise to “spend less money!” We may even think of the once-strong relationships in our lives that fell to the wayside and think “This year I’m going to be a better friend”.
However, we often don’t make plans for how we’re going to accomplish these goals or create backup plans for when the initial plan isn’t successful. And within a few weeks, these “goals” and “resolutions” simply taunt us and allow that little voice in our heads say “see, you knew you couldn’t do it”. Depressing, right?
Well it’s time for us to tell that little voice to sit down and shut up! These are all really great starting places to set the New Year for success; wanting to improve your physical well-being, emotional well-being, or financial stability is great. No matter your situation there’s always room for improvement. But the key words here are “starting place”. There needs to be a defined set of actions behind the goals to help make them more attainable. I’m going to bring you back to your high school life skills class and remind you that goals need to be S.M.A.R.T! Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-specific.
Let’s say I’m a fairly inactive individual who wants to get fit in 2013. A goal that doesn’t lend a lot to success might be “In 2013 I will get in shape.” Okay great. But how do YOU define “in shape”? How are you going to track your progress? How are you going to do this? Do you get my drift?
Instead, a good starting place might be “In 2013 I will get in shape. To start with, I’m going to incorporate 30 minutes of physical activity into my day four days a week.” There isn’t much room to debate the specificity of this goal. Physical activity is physical activity, be it walking, swimming, or taking the stairs instead of the elevator and parking just a liiiittle bit further from the grocery store entrance than you normally do (all you smartasses reading this thinking “does lifting the remote to change the channel count as physical exercise?” just shh).
You can measure whether or not you’re meeting this goal by simply determining whether or not you did any activity! Pretty straightforward stuff. This is definitely an attainable goal as well, regardless of your circumstances. Excuses such as not having enough time or being too exhausted just aren’t good enough. If you can sit and read this, you can walk around the block for 30 minutes. Next on the list, relevance. Getting in shape and exercise go hand in hand. Finally, the time-specific aspect. Since the overall goal is to get in shape during 2013, you have your time target. But trust me, once you get the ball rolling you’re not gonna stick to walking it out 120 minutes a week. The bigger goals with bigger deadlines will come with time.
Having a solid action plan behind your goals boosts your chances for success even more. Take some time for yourself at the start of your week and designate a few days as your exercise days. Figure out ahead of time how you’re going to accomplish all of your family duties, your social commitments, and any other things that may turn themselves into an excuse for not achieving your goal. It’s time to make time for you and make yourself a priority!
It’s important to remember not to give up if something does manage to get in the way one day. Life happens, and sometimes even the best plans falter. Take a step back and see if there was anything you could have done differently. If so, take note and keep it in mind for next time. If not, don’t beat yourself up! Start fresh the next day. This is your year to make a difference within yourself, so don’t let one day hold you back.
My goal for 2013 is to expand on all of the things I learned in 2012 – proper nutrition, the importance of regular exercise, how to love yourself among a few – by sharing them with the people around me, whether it’s face-to-face, on Facebook, or through this blog. Even if only one person throughout the whole year takes something from what I have to say or write and turns it into something positive for themselves, I’ll feel as though my goal has been achieved. I’m looking forward to kicking 2013’s ass and hope I can inspire some of you to join me! Let’s make 2013 the year we make the positive changes in our lives that we deserve.