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SMART Resolutions

New Year’s resolutions… I had to pluck the low hanging fruit of a blog idea.

When I speak with others, I find that they consider this concept of goal setting at the beginning of the year too demanding… Too pressurized. It’s almost as if it’s your birthday and everyone around you is asking, “Are you having fun?” Or trying to stay up until midnight for New Year’s Eve. I think it’s a truly American trait to not want to feel forced to feel any sort of way, especially if it involves changing. We don’t want to feel like we HAVE to do something just because it’s the time of year others do it.

Maybe it also feels a bit like believing in Santa… You only wanted one thing for Christmas, but after unwrapping your gifts, it wasn’t there after all. You wanted to eat better, exercise every day, lose weight, gain muscle, save money, sleep better, quit smoking, curse less… But so quickly you lost momentum and slipped back into your former habits. It seems impossible to really have positive behavior change in the life you lead— maybe others can set goals and achieve them, but they must not have the same challenges that you do. So many good intentions, but either you’ll try again next year or just not participate. Why try if you’re just going to fail?

Personally, I have always liked New Year’s Resolutions. I see it as a time of self-reflection. It’s a time that I summarize the previous year and peek into the future to see what is in my control to improve. That being said, my New Year’s Resolution for 2021 is to be more self-aware every day; not just once a year. I want to be more present in the here-and-now and make adjustments as needed. I want to be more proactive than reactive and that will come with being more aware of my current surroundings and situation.

Just saying something doesn’t make it true, though. In fact, my goal sounds quite vague, doesn’t it?

To make a goal that actually has a chance of yielding positive results, one must make sure that it is SMART. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. For instance, this is one way I could/should write my goal:

Every Sunday morning, I will take 30 minutes to reflect on the choices and decisions I made for the week. I will trial this for 1 month and then ask my partner if he can notice any measurable differences in my attitude.

If you want to accomplish anything, take small steps. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and habits don’t change overnight. I find it best to talk about your goals with a good friend or significant other to make sure that your goals are truly realistic and attainable. Don’t be offended if your loved one tells you that you’re biting off more than you can chew— just take a smaller bite. Remember, when you’ve made up your mind to change something, think SMART.

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