A Happy, Stress-Free Holiday – Part 4: Setting up for a happy new year

As each year completes its cycle I too, complete my own series of reflections on my successes, disappointments and convictions to live a better new year.  Despite my steely resolve at the start of each January, every December ends with a vague sense of unfulfilled potential.

This blog is for those who are sick of the revolution of incomplete new year vows and year end regrets. By reading and completing the following points you should have a basic outline for mastering your goals this new year by the end of this blog.

1. Name your goal.  What is your top goal this new year? By naming the one, most important goal, you pool your resources to achieving this top goal. Having successfully accomplished it, you can then target other goals with a greater sense of confidence.

My top goal is to __________________________________________________________.

(Ex. My top goal is to live a healthier life).

2. Know your “why”. By clarifying why we want to achieve a goal, it makes the goal more personally relevant.  The “whys” behind our goals also act as the motivational drive that keeps us going when the going gets tough.

Note: Intrinsic goals for self improvement (ex. personal growth, meaningful relationships) are more likely to be under your control and can help build a sense of confidence and well-being. In comparison, extrinsic goals are reliant on outside factors (ex. money, beauty, fame). Though they can be a great source of motivation, they are also more likely to disappoint, especially when you are basing your motivators on a comparison to an outside factor beyond your control (ex. looking like Taylor Swift).

My top goal is to __________ because ___________, ___________, and ___________.

(Ex. My top goal is to live a healthier life because I want to look like Taylor Swift.  — extrinsic).

(Ex. My top goal is to live a healthier life because I want to travel without debility. –intrinsic). This is a personal goal of mine because my chronic joint pain has interfered with many of my positive experiences.

3. Break it down. Having a lofty goal such as “living a healthier life” can be difficult to accomplish unless you reduce it into realistic “mini-goals” more easily achieved.  What are some mini-goals that can help you reach your ultimate goal?

To achieve my goal of __________, I will ____________,   ___________, and ___________.

(Ex. To achieve my goal of living a healthier life, I will eat a healthier diet, exercise, and relax).

4. Break it down some more. If your mini-goals aren’t specific enough, make them more specific and attainable.

To achieve my mini-goal of _________, I will __________, ___________, and ________.

(Ex. To achieve my mini-goal of eating a healthier diet, I will make my meals home cooked, I will eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables each day and I will drink 8 glasses of water each day).

5. Make it realistic.  If your goal is something completely out of your comfort zone it will more likely deter you from trying. Create a goal that makes sense to you and word it to work for you.

(Ex. I will drink 8 glasses of water each day vs. I will drink 1 glass of water in the morning, one before each meal and one glass at night.)

6. Make it fun. Create self-challenges to capitalize on your competitive side.

(Ex. Take a sip of water every time I hear my name called, or every time the phone rings.  Or aim to finish a 1L bottle of water by the end of the work day, then increase it to 1.5L)

7. Commit yourself to your goal. Some things are more easily said than done, by committing yourself to your goal you are more accountable and more likely to carry them out.  Some great ways to commit yourself is to write out a contract to yourself or to make your intentions public so that you are bound to what you’ve told others.

When writing your self-contract, be sure to incorporate the points above and make the contract realistic for yourself. Include dates for each mini-goal you’d like to achieve and sign it as you would any official document.

8.  Recognize your successes and don’t let slip-ups discourage you.  There is no perfect path to success, there will be mistakes and points of weakness.  Don’t forget to praise yourself for the successes each day and to recognize the steps you’ve taken towards your goal, no matter how small (even if it is drinking just one glass of water more than usual instead of your goal of 8).

A big thank you to all those who’ve followed me and supported me with my venture as a blogger.  I wish you all a happy holiday and new year.  I look forward to sharing more on health and naturopathic medicine. See you in 2014!

A Happy, Stress-Free Holiday Series:

Part 1: Knowing when you’re stressed

Part 2: Control your stressors:  Creating change and avoiding over-indulgence

Part 3: Handling holiday stress

Part 4: Setting up for a happy new year 

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