New Years is traditionally a time of evaluation. Instead of reflecting on all the ways in which we are blessed we tend to search out all of our faults and all the things we don’t like about our lives. We make crazy lists of all the things that are wrong with our looks, our jobs, our habits and our living situation. We then make even crazier lists of how we plan on changing every aspect of our lives. Huge drastic changes at that! 45% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions but only 8% achieve their goals! (statisticbrain.com) This can be attributed to the fact that we are great at setting goals but terrible at making plans on how to achieve them.
I will lose 20 pounds. I will spend more time with my family. I will make more money. Sound familiar? This is usually the beginning and the end of our resolutions. But there are a few key components missing. We’ve got the what part down, but we are missing the how, when, where, who and most importantly the why parts. Goal writing is not as simple as writing down the desired result. The acronym SMART is a commonly used tool for goal writing. It defines a well written goal as one that is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. This means that our resolution of “I will lose 20 pounds” would sound more like “I will lose 20 pounds by July 1st” when sent through the SMART filter.
SMART is a great tool to help write better goals. It adds details to your goals and makes you spend a little more time thinking about them. But SMART is just the beginning. Adding more information and details to your goals can help make working towards your goals even easier. Specifically adding information about how you are going to achieve them increases the likelihood that you will keep them. So “I will lose 20 pounds by July 1st” becomes “I will lose 20 pounds by July 1st by exercising 20 minutes a day 3 times a week”. Now you’ve got a goal that tells you something.
When I am setting goals I also like to look at why I want to achieve specific goals. Why do I want to lose 20 pounds? Is it for appearance or health or some other reason? Sometimes evaluating the reason for wanting to achieve a goal can help us find motivation for working towards them or may help us see that we need to rewrite our goals to reflect the true changes we want to see in ourselves. My example of losing 20 pounds is a very simple example but goals regarding family, relationships, fulfillment or happiness are much more complicated and can have very different underlying motivators.
Once our goals are set and implemented a key factor in achieving them is constant monitoring of progress. Even if we just have a simple frequent reminder that we have goals helps tons. In yoga, we often set an intention at the beginning of practice. This can be a great time to remind ourselves of our goals. Of course the intention of every practice can’t be “I will lose 20 pounds” but our intention can be to stay motivated and committed to our goals. Furthermore we use our motivators as subjects of focus and meditation. If the underlying motivation for us wanting to lose weight is to give us more confidence than we can meditate on welcoming confidence and strength into ourselves.
So for 2017 spend some time writing your resolutions and then throughout the year spend time working on them and checking on your progress as time goes by. Reflect on your motivation and meditate upon the changes you’d like to see within yourself. Have a safe and happy 2017!!