My obsession with New Year’s resolutions was born out of necessity due to an ugly Christmas time breakup that left me dazed, depressed, and lost. Folks, it was bad. After unintentionally losing 10 pounds through the Christmas holiday, I decided I needed to pull myself together. So what did I, a type-A workaholic, do? I made goals. I called these goals my New Years Resolutions. It just sounds more official, you know?
Turns out I am a really good goal-maker, but I never had words to put to the goal-making process that I used until taking the business classes that we’re required to have in an accredited dietetics undergrad program. So here I will borrow a handy little acronym for you all to follow while building your New Year’s Resolutions! Your goals need to be SMART:
Specific: What exactly are you trying to do? “Get healthier” could mean a lot of things, but “increase vegetable consumption” is a whole different ball game. Being specific will help ensure that you stick to your goals and don’t end up letting it slide to a watered down version of what you had originally intended.
Measurable: As a scientist this one is a no-brainer for me, but a lot of people think in less strict terms. Let’s take that vegetable goal, for instance. If it were my goal, I’d take a typical week before instituting the resolution and tally up my veggies: different types and total servings. Then I would aim to increase that by some number. For example, if I eat three servings of vegetables a day and normally eat seven different types of vegetables a week; I’d up it to five servings a day and nine different vegetables a week.
Attainable: This has to do with the logistics of your goal. For the vegetables one, it would have to do with the money you have for veggies, the storage room in your refrigerator and freezer, your knowledge and skills for preparation, and the $ you’re willing to shell out to make your resolution stick all year long.
Realistic: Kind of like attainable, but this one has more to do with you. I could say that I’m going to eat 10 servings of vegetables each day but honestly, I will not do that. I could say that I am going to qualify for Olympic marathon trials, but that will not happen either. I simply don’t have the patience or skill to accomplish these things. This doesn’t mean aim low, but it should be enough of a challenge that you have to concentrate in order to make it happen.
Time-based: Define your time frame. Are you going to do this just this year? How much time do you have to consume x servings of vegetables? Five a day? Nine types a week? 45 miles a week? 1000 miles a year? What is it? Give yourself a deadline and stick with it.
This format is great because it can be applied to all sorts of goals, from the mundane to the truly life-changing.
In the case of Lauren’s broken heart, I figured out exactly what was missing from my newly-single life and made resolutions that would fill those gaps. Easier said than done. Turns out I felt like I had no friends, I placed all my self worth in a relationship that had failed instead of in the things that I had accomplished and the good person that I was, and I had held onto a vision of a future built around someone else.
How do you make goals to fix these issues? Well…
The friends that I spent all my time with were pretty much all my ex boyfriend’s friends. I had other ones that I really liked, I just didn’t hang out with them much. Bingo, resolution 1: spend time with at least two different people every week. It was specific (hangin’ with two different people), measurable (TWO per WEEK), attainable (I lived in a college town, spending time with others is a requirement), realistic (I wanted this), and time based (the week measure gave me deadlines to get in my face time). And this resolution worked: I was able to do it and it made me a happier, more connected and fulfilled person. My relationships with many people (not just the ex) were satisfying and meaningful.
Other resolutions that I had that year included running the Memorial Day Half Marathon for the second time to avenge my ridiculously low iron (I ended up winning and consequently discovering a budding talent I never knew I had), and the Hartford Marathon since I had run the half distance already. These goals were designed to give me something to be proud of, to boost my self-worth. I wanted something to work for, to point to and say “yeah, I did that”; and that is exactly what I got. I also had resolutions related to getting future schooling in order, and other things that would help me straighten out my life because I was finally figuring out that it’s mine, stupid boyfriend or no stupid boyfriend.
After you make your goals, write them down and put them somewhere visible. In my last two houses, my desk was situated in front of a window in my room and the list was tacked right in the middle of the windows. Every time I sat down to do work, I was reminded of the things that were important to me and I kept working at them. Don’t forget. Put a sticky note on your desk top, have a daily alert when you wake up to remind you, whatever you need to do to make sure you remember. These are your goals and you deserve success.
I challenge you: make a SMART resolution for yourself. Figure out what it is that you need, and make a plan to fix that. Then really fix it.
My SMART resolutions for 2013:
– Run Boston. Goal time: 3:10 (this doesn’t really count as a resolution, but I’ll write it down so I remember to keep pushing during training because I want it)
– Add yoga into the weekly training program, at least once a week every week whether it’s an in-person class or something I find online. Get. It. Done.
– RELAX. Enjoy the city at least once a week for what it is – go out and eat and/or drink. I’ve been doing much better on this one since accepting that NOLA is what it is and this truly can be compatible with my healthy lifestyle.
There may be more to come, probably more career-related, and I will let you know. For now it’s off to bed to wake up bright and early to go SKIIIIIIIIIINNNNGGGG!!!! This snow has been extra awesome the past few days.