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Getting SMART about your New Year’s Resolutions

Inspire Health Event Calendar January 3, 2015

 It’s the start of a new year…resolutions anyone?

With the passing of each year, and the start of the next, we are given an opportunity to reflect on the past and set an intention for the future.  The new year provides an occasion to hit the restart button, to set a plan or some goals, but also to look back at your accomplishments from the past year.  It is easy to be hard on ourselves, always striving to be better, but taking the time to reward yourself for the year’s work is just as important.

The “New Year’s Resolution” can be something welcomed or something that is dreaded and feared.  Part of why it is so often dreaded is because of the radical changes that people try to make.  A poll found that 78% of Canadians failed to keep their past resolutions.  When we break this down, it is unlikely because these people were not capable, but often because the emphasis of new year’s resolutions are too drastic and people take on a bit more than they can chew.  The most commonly cited resolutions are to lose weight, exercise more, eat better, and be a better person.  While all good intentions, when written as generally as these goals are, they are pretty big things to just jump in to. 

One approach to combat the lofty goal is the SMART goal approach, which is one that I often like to work through when taking on something new.  This is making goals which are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.  If you take this approach, and are true to yourself and your capabilities when making the goal, then it shouldn’t be biting off more than you can chew. 

Another approach is a little more general.  When reflecting on the past year, choose one or two words which you feels really emphasizes that nature of that year coming to a close.  And rather than set a lofty resolution for the year to come, just choose one or two words which you will hold as an intention for the year to come.  It is a way to keep things simple, without the pressure or expectations.  Just focusing on a way that you wish to live by. 

No matter what your endeavor is for the new year, try to set yourself up for success to help you achieve what you are wanting to achieve.  Here are five tips:

 1.       Keep it small and simple.  When people don’t succeed, it is often because they take on too much, or they are not really passionate about what they are trying to change.  It is better to make small changes as these are more sustainable over the long-term.  When goals and ambitions get too complex, it is often difficult to measure success and maintain these changes into the future.

 2.       Write it down.  Putting your ideas on paper helps to lay out exactly what you want to do.  It also helps to make things official.  If there are gaps in your plan you can see them, and you can brainstorm ideas for moving forward.  It also gives you something to refer back to later on.

 3.       Be supported.  If you feel comfortable, it may be helpful to talk to your friends and family about your goals, and even bring them onboard.  Having that added support can help provide you with a support network that you can rely on to keep things on track. Support people are able to help you through the more difficult times and celebrate your successes and achievements with you.

 4.       Modify when necessary.  Things change, and it is important to be fluid in your goals and expectations for yourself as well.  Sometimes things happen which are out of your control, so try to be flexible and forgiving, and adjust where necessary.

 5.       We are all human.  Sometimes things just don’t work.  What you thought had been realistic turns out not to be, circumstances change, and maybe your interests change.  This is ok. We are all human.  Rather than beat yourself up over it, try to look at this experience as a learning opportunity.  Often our mistakes are what we can learn the most from.

Resolution or not, take this transition time into 2015 as a time for reflection and recharging.   No matter what your intention is for the year, remember to be kind to yourself.  Set yourself up for success and honour the ebbs and flows of the year to come.  You’ll thank yourself in the end!

About the author

 Rachel Mark is an Exercise Therapist and Yoga Instructor at InspireHealth, an Integrated Cancer Care Centre with  locations in Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna. She holds a Master’s degree in Kinesiology and is a RYT-500 yoga  instructor. She believes that physical activity has the ability to heal the body, mind, and spirit and should be  incorporated into our daily lives for substantial health benefit.