We’ve arrived at a new year, which means time for the annual list of things I want to accomplish, how I want to develop, habits I want to create, or habits I want to leave behind. But, at the back of my mind, I also know it’s time for me to consider what resolutions I won’t keep, ones that would be okay to put at the bottom of the list, or the ones I won’t even start! It sounds a little ridiculous to even admit! As I approached the end of 2014, I “resolved” to be more intentional in my personal resolutions and made a task of researching what makes goals stick and how to stay motivated. Take a look at some of the common themes I found that resonated with me across all areas of my life and the types of goals I wanted to set.
As a soon-to-be mental health clinician, I am a BIG fan of SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Bound. Consider the difference between “I want to become a runner” and “I want to make running a daily practice so that I can run a 5K in November in under 30 minutes.” It’s specific, you’ll know how to measure if you’ve met your goal or not, and there’s a deadline to keep you on track. Make goals or reframe the resolutions you’ve already set to follow the SMART model and the path becomes much, much clearer.
Learn to love the process and celebrate the small steps, as well! Let’s take the 5K example – keeping your finish line in view is a wonderful practice, but don’t forget to be present for and celebrate the smaller steps that make up the path as a whole. Couldn’t run half a mile before and you just ran a mile nonstop while training for your upcoming 5K? Celebrate it! Recognize the pieces of the puzzle that are falling into place on the way to your reaching your goal because of your efforts thus far.
The buddy system is a fantastic motivator. Enlist friends with similar goals or resolutions so you can work together or keep each other accountable. At the very basic level, make your goals and aspirations for the year (or beyond) known to those close to you. Making your goals known to other people beyond yourself can help reinforce what you’re doing, and it’s harder to walk away from something that other people know you’re trying to achieve! Accountability is key.
Finally, don’t lose sight of the deeper meaning of what you’re trying to achieve through your new goals and resolutions. What was your inspiration? Why is it important? How do these ideas work with your practice of achieving them? Honor your truth and keep it in your sights as you work to achieve what’s in front of you for the year to come!
Office of Residential Life