I hope everyone’s holiday season has been extremely enjoyable – full of gatherings with family and friends, some time off from work, and indulging in the good things in life (whatever they may be). This also tends to be a time of year when the New Year “resolution” list starts to take flight in everyone’s head. Whether it be wanting to drop a few pounds, make healthier meals for the family each night (or as many nights as you can manage), cut back on sugar, or just being able to get through a day without wanting to lose it, most of us are scheming up a plan of what to “work on” once the clock strikes midnight on January 1. In my health coaching practice, this is the time of year when individuals frantically start trying to become someone radically different than they were a mere day before; I always ask them: “Why? Let’s talk about what’s driving this motivation to change x,y, and z.” To be honest, I find this time of year rather stressful for many people, which seems to be counter-intuitive for setting new goals and being motivated by them, which saddens me. Of course there is always something we will want to “improve” – we will never be perfect; however, as I have mentioned in numerous posts already, it’s what we are already doing right that we should focus on and build upon. Working towards goals that stem from strengths will have much higher rates of success, fueled by genuine motivation versus chipping away at goals that take root in what we perceive are our weaknesses. Of course there is nothing wrong with wanting to improve upon something in our lives, but having the weakness/problem/deficit as the anchor for the goal is a constant reminder of an issue that evokes a negative association in our minds. Rather, let’s switch our mindsets to kick off the year on a positive note – celebrating what we already do well and building on what we are grateful for each day in our lives. You can even model great resolution-setting behavior for your children and set goals together. I recommend having children express what their goals are first (to allow their thought process to evolve in their own way) and then you can backtrack and go over these steps to see if they want to make any changes. Here are some pointers how to set reasonable resolutions for the whole family:
- Be honest and kind with yourself. Before you make a list of what you need to improve or change, make a list of things you are proud of yourself for within the past year. Celebrate your accomplishments. Many times, this is the first time people do this for themselves all year long. Write down things that went well that you want to continue to go well. Write down things that you are grateful for and thank each day exist in your life. Make all of the above your main focus for your “resolution” list – this will keep the focus on what you are already an ace at – and will most likely represent your learning style and true personality. Before setting any goals, be kind to yourself and remind yourself that you are human. Nobody is perfect and the resolutions you will draft up for yourself should reflect this kindness (no matter how much we like to be hard on ourselves – you know who you are).
- Dig deep. Goals should be created with soul – meaning, they should have emotion tied to them. This will shift the way you remain motivated to achieve the goal. Instead of wanting to just fulfill the goal itself, tying an emotion to each goal will allow you to want to chase after a feeling you hope to reach that the goal will give you. In order to do this, you have to take a look at each goal you come up with and:
- First ask yourself WHY are you coming up with this goal for the new year?
- What is its purpose to you? Are you creating this goal with someone else in mind?
- What has influenced you to come up with this goal?
- Is this an “obligation”-oriented goal versus a true self-desire goal? When the motivation to achieve a goal comes from within, people tend to reach them such more easily and successfully versus goals that have a sense of obligation/doing something to please someone else.
- Think first and become clear on how you actually want to feel in your life (and this can be focused around anything) – and then set your resolutions. For example – instead of writing “I want to eat healthier in 2014” – perhaps reframe it how you want to genuinely feel in 2014. Brainstorm. Write things down. Create a journal or a vision board. Perhaps how you want to feel will sound something like, “I want to have more energy throughout the day to play with the kids; I would love to feel lighter in the sense that I am not carrying around so many burdens; I want to feel less sluggish come 3pm; I want to feel rested; I want to feel more connected to my family and be able to focus on the little things that matter.”
- Once you have emotion tied to each goal, think about the reasons why you deserve each goal (because you do!)
- Envision and really visualize what reaching each goal will look like and mean for you. How will it change you? How will it change your life? How will it change the lives of those you love?
- Be realistic. Create S.M.A.R.T. goals and write them down. Lots of times I’ll hear clients mention drastic goals that they want to accomplish starting with the new year. We tend to burn ourselves out chasing after goals that we wither a) cannot attain due to legitimate restrictions in our lives and b) we are trying to achieve something that is rooted in something outside of ourselves. Before I will even start helping clients delineate a plan to achieve their goals, we first make the emotion connection to each goal and then we recognize all limitations (and embrace them) within the clients’ lives. Also ask, “Where do I think I can become hung-up reaching this goal?” “What are some things that can get in the way or hold me back?” “What are some fears I have around setting and/or achieving this goal?”
- Being aware of and recognizing ahead of time what can cause a snafu will prepare individuals what to better expect when working towards achieving a goal. Too often, we just keep the goal in sight and we don’t pay attention to the reality that we may not be able to complete the goal exactly the way as planned or we may have to shift gears if things come up along the way (and not let it completely derail progress).
- One concept I emphasize when working with clients around goal-setting is to make sure goals are S.M.A.R.T.: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, & Time Targeted. When people come up with a goal like, “I want to be more healthy”, it leaves way too much room for error. What does that actually mean to the person? They would need to be specific as to what being more healthy means – would it entail eating less sugar, getting more sleep, exercising more, etc.? The next step would be to come up with a way to actually keep track of and measure progress – how does one measure “being more healthy” anyway? Perhaps phrasing it as “I will eat at least 5 vegetables and 5 fruits a day, in addition to getting at least 7 hours of sleep per night and 30 minutes of exercise per day for at least 4 days a week” is much easier to keep track of and monitor. As mentioned above, the goal has to be attainable – don’t set a goal that is unrealistic to keep (i.e. working out 5 hours a day when you have a full-time job and family). Relevancy pertains to how this goal will play a role in your life; how is it connected to you? Is this goal in line with who you are as a person and what your values are? Lastly is a timeframe you will establish to reach your goal – when would you like to achieve it? How often will you check-in you’re your progress along the way?
- Think of specific action steps you will have to take in order to meet your goal(s). What in particular will you have to do?
- Writing your goals down somewhere (preferably in a place where you can see them on a daily basis to help you stay focused and motivated. Studies show that when we materialize our intentions and goals (i.e. in the form of writing it down somewhere), we are much more likely to achieve and manifest the goals. Perhaps make a fun resolution chart for the whole family and hang it in a place where everyone can see. Here are some links to some neat inspirations:
- Ø http://www.pinterest.com/scrappinmichele/2013-vision-board-goals-resolutions-intentions/
- Find and build your support system. Now. As cliché as this may sound, there is no “I” in “TEAM” and the same goes for achieving most resolutions. One of the top reasons why people fail at their new years’ resolutions (and soon into the new year) is because they do not have an adequate support system in place to achieve success. When coming up with your goals, it’s imperative to build who and what can support you – whether it be from a 5-minute accountability check-in phone call each day from a friend to a simple text or e-mail of encouragement from a loved one, think of what you can put in place to keep you on track. This should not be considered a sign of weakness or that you need others to achieve your goal for you – rather, see it as an opportunity to utilize the greatness that already exists in your life to help propel you towards those feelings you want and deserve to feel. It will feel so much more enriching to have that support system as part of your journey, too. This is a perfect opportunity for children and the whole family to become involved, too – many times, we isolate ourselves when trying to fulfill goals because we feel it’s “our mission”. Instead, think of the all-around feelings of success and gratitude that will be felt by those who support you.
- Be flexible and celebrate each step of the journey. While each goal may not go exactly as planned, keep the emotion you have tied to each of your goals in sight. When something goes right, celebrate (and with those you love, too!). Thank those who are supporting you. Let each step in the right direction fuel you to keep going further. If changes need to be made along the way, make them – being flexible allows you to stay with the goal versus abandoning it altogether simply because it did not go as planned. Use these instances as an opportunity to check-in with yourself and see if the emotion you have initially tied to the goal has changed or if it’s genuine.
I wish you all a very healthy and happy new year! Here is to a new start to a new year; I am excited for all of the goals and intentions you have set for 2014. Feel free to share below what some of your goals are for 2014; I always feel inspired by looking at what everyone has to share.
Check back in this week for TWO exciting offers to kick off the new year right that I am giving away to anyone interested!
Stay tuned next week for the top three (easy) things you can do to kick off 2014 in a healthier way.
Megan Monday articles are written by Megan Kalocinski, a Certified Holistic Nutrition and Health Coach and Owner/Founder of Empower Nutrition & Health Coaching, LLC. Megan educates and empowers women, men, and children of all ages to learn the true ins-and-outs of “feeding the brain with knowledge about the best foods and habits for one’s body” in order to reach optimal health and wellness potentials. Visit her website today to learn more: http://www.exponentialhealthandwellness.us or feel free to send her an e-mail at: firstname.lastname@example.org.