This week, I have been all about finding specific goals and resolutions for the upcoming year. All the science, and personal experience, is suggesting that the more specific our goals, the more focused we will be and more likely we will be to obtain them. There is an inherent danger in setting too high a goal or too broad… we break them. How many times have I made the resultion to “get more fit,” or “start eating healthier”? However, it wasn’t until I started focusing on specific ways to achieve those goals that the began coming to fruition.
This wee, The 10is all about America’s goal-setting vigor and it’s most commonly made, and in turn broken, goals. Hopefully this will inspire you to think S.M.A.R.T. when making your New Year’s Resolutions and avoid the most common traps that January 1st holds with it.
- Lose Weight & Get Fit: I think we all saw this coming, and most likely because we have all said this in some form or another. The reason why this is the number 1 broken goal in American is because it is asking you to change two MASSIVE aspects of our lives. The way we live and take care of our bodies are about the broadest, most difficult things to change, once why the US is the No.1 obese country in the world. It’s important to focus in on our goals, making them measurable attainable each day. For example, “I want to exercise 2 times a week” is a goal we can measure and genuinely complete.
- Quit Smoking: This is a hard one. Remember, smoking is an addiction, whether severe or mild, and should not be taken lightly. Much like “getting fit” or “losing weight,” without a specific plan of action, we can feel overwhelmed in our endeavor. Try creating an action plan for quitting, or even reducing the amount you smoke. For example, “I will smoke no more than 5 cigarettes a day” or “I will start using a nicotine patch during the weekdays.” Talking to your doctor can also give you great ideas on specific methods and ideas on how to quit.
- Learn Something New: Wow. That’s an honorable but extremely vague resolution, however according to TIME Magazine, the No. 3 most broken resolution. Why? Because it is too broad. Lear what? A language? A recipe? A way of solving the linear gravitational pull on the Earth’s outer core? There are so many things we can learn that not even starting with a subject matter leads us to confusion and apathy towards our resolution. Find something that interests you and base your learning goal on a stage of that interest. For example, if you love painting, try specifying a genre of the art you’d like to learn.
- Eat Healthier & Diet: This goes hand in hand with the first. How do we change one of the biggest aspects of our lives without knowing where we want to start or what area is our biggest concern. Whittle it down to your basics and go from there. For example, “I want to eat at least one serving of fruit and one serving of vegetables everyday.”
- Get Out of Debt & Save Money: Now that is heavy. One of the biggest causes of anxiety and stress (money) and we are just going to make a resolution to essentially “just do it”. I’m not doubting your resolve, but that’s a tough one to crack. Making small concessions towards tis larger goal is great way to start down that path. For example, “I will only have basic cable this year.” Netflix, HBO, and the like can all add up, finding ways to save are steps to “getting out of debt and saving money.”
- Spend More Time With Family: This is lovely and honorable but difficult if we don’t have ideas on how to do it, one again, setting us up for failure. Try planning specific ideas and seeing them through. For example, “I will have lunch with my sister once every two weeks.” Baby steps are still steps.
- Travel to New Places: This one sounds exciting and adventurous but because it is so broad you can actually loophole your own resolution. I’ve never been to the McDonald’s on Sunset & Vine, so if I go there then I’ve completed my resolution. Probably not the best way to achieve goals, through loopholes. If you want to travel, make a deal with yourself. For example, “I will travel to a national park this year” or maybe, “If I save $1000 I will fly to Cabo for a week in the Summer.”
- Be Less Stressed: This is hands down my favorite one. As a person who has suffered from panic attacks and over-anxiety, I love the idea that I can simply “be less stressed”. It’s like when we are super angry about something and someone says, “just relax.” Has that EVER worked for anyone, or did it just make you more angry? Even saying “I need to be less stressed” can increase your anxiety levels by making you think about your stress levels and how they are so bad you need to make a resolution about them. Instead, try to use positive reinforcement to take away the negative connotation whilst also dealing with the problem. For example, “I will join a mediation class” or even, “I will spend 2 minutes a day sitting and breathing with no distractions.”
- Volunteer: This is like learning something new. If you don’t have an idea of what interests you or what you think you’d be good at helping with you are setting yourself up for multiple ways of not getting what you wanted. You could never go through with actually volunteering, or you could randomly select something, hate it, and quit, which negatively affects you and those you were trying to help. Find something that suits you as a person and go for it. For example, if you work in architecture maybe say, “This year I will volunteer with Homes for Humanity.” Your expertise and personal interest make this a win for you and the people you are helping.
- Drink Less (alcohol): Does this mean having 8 beers instead of 10 on a Friday night? Or maybe only having alcohol once a month? Being specific allows us to work constructively and move forward. You have to tailor your goal to you and you alone. If you drink every day and want to “drink less,” maybe say “I will only drink on weekends” or possibly, “I will have one glass of wine each time I drink at home.” Like smoking, alcohol can be extremely addicting and a medical situation for some people. Talking with your doctor can help you to create an honest and focused goal for curbing your drinking habits.