Wednesday, December 29, 2010

New year: goal setting and a healthier new you

For some of us it may not seem that long ago that we entered the new millennium. That being said, there's no escaping the fact that in just a few days not only will we begin a new year, but another new decade will be looking us straight in the eyes. This is the time when resolutions abound.  Buoyed by the clean slate a new year presents and our own good intentions, we resolve to quit [fill in the blank], or begin [fill in the blank]. Sadly, even with the best of intentions we frequently find that by March our resolutions are a distant memory.

Perhaps it is time to consider a new strategy that will improve the odds that this new year's resolution will become a life long habit. The following questions come from the book, The Language of Letting Go, by Melody Beattie.  She suggests that on January 1st, or sometime near the beginning of the year, we think about what we want to see happen in our lives for the new year.  Just take a little time to consider our life goals and objectives before making our resolutions.  Now, I'm going to be honest and admit that I don't enjoy doing these types of exercises. They seem tedious and time consuming. Maybe you can relate. Nevertheless, I have to agree with the author's logic.

As a fitness trainer I know the value of setting fitness goals. Without them, it becomes difficult to measure the incremental small successes that occur when a training program is followed. It also becomes challenging to know when one is ready to move on to the next step. In addition, establishing goals helps encourage ownership of, as well as participation in the training process. Consequently, it makes sense to me that the same would hold true for getting in touch with what I want to have happen in my life this year. Digging within myself to determine my goals for the year may not be in my comfort zone, but doing this can help me get in touch with what I want. It's not a selfish, or controlling exercise. Rather, setting annual goals is empowering me to do my part in living my life to the fullest.

So, here are the questions to consider:
  • What would I like to have happen in my life this year?
  • What would I like to do, to accomplish?
  • What good would I like to attract into my life?
  • What particular areas of growth would I like to have happen to me?
  • What blocks, or character defects, would I like to have removed?
  • What would I like to attain, little things and big things?
  • Where would I like to go?
  • What would I like to have happen in friendship and love?
  • What would I like to have happen in my family life?
  • What problems would I like to see solved?
  • What decisions would I like to make?
  • What would I like to see happen in my career?
  • What would I like to see happen inside and around me?
If you find yourself a little overwhelmed by the number of questions, or by what they are asking us to think over, a strategy that might be helpful is to just consider a few of the questions that are most meaningful to you and go from there. Experts have found that tackling our goals in stages and setting up objectives is beneficial.  Also, goals that are SMART, an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time bound, are more likely to be accomplished.  You can read more about SMART goals here.

Melody Beattie has an interesting perspective. She uses a book writing metaphor to illustrate how the events that happen in our lives in 2011 are all  "part of the chapter that will be this year...and will lead us forward in the story" that is our life. Of course, there are many things in our lives that remain out of our control. However, we can influence the direction the plot of our book takes by getting in touch with and establishing objectives for ourselves.

I hope you find the following quote by Melody to be an inspiring thought to consider as we begin 2011: "The new year stands before us, like a chapter in a book, waiting to be written." So, let's help write this year's chapter and begin with setting a few goals for ourselves. This year our resolutions will become a reality.

I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!


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