As 2017 begins to unfold, we wanted to take some time to reflect on why this is a time of year when people make their resolutions. In some ways, the New Year represents a “fresh” start to our intentions where we make goals for personal, familial or community betterment. While your goals are uniquely yours, it is not uncommon for people to want to improve their exercise/diet, cease unhealthy habits such as smoking or other substances, go on a digital cleanse, or take on a new hobby that would enhance overall quality of life. In fact, Doctor Mike Evans sums our love of New Year’s resolutions here:
What we appreciate about his video is that he talks about the smaller steps of change as opposed to the “all or nothing” perspective we sometimes bring to change. If you have a perfectionist orientation, all or nothing New Year’s resolutions can be, quite frankly, disappointing. If you are looking at starting a new habit (or breaking up with an old one), SMART goals can be helpful:
Get really concrete! It is not enough to say “I want less stress” or “more work-life balance.” Instead, formulate your goals such as “I will hire homecare for my elderly parents” or “Our family will commit to game night once a week.”
M = Measurable
Part of sustainability of change is being able to measure your progress. How will you know what you are doing is working? What visual trackers can you use or what mini-celebrations will you do when you reach these change milestones?
Is what you want to change within your reach? Are there any variables that might get in the way? For example, if you wanted to learn a new language, you would need to consider classes, time management, and practice.
I used to be a runner. But since I have not run in a couple of years, it would not make sense for me to sign up for a marathon this month. We are not suggesting you don’t shoot for the moon but we are saying don’t shoot yourself in the foot in the process!
T= Timely and time-bound
Readiness is a big part of change. Is this the best time to enact this change? What window of time would you give yourself? Too often, we get caught up in what we “should” change as opposed to what we can change. In other words, what might be timely next year may not set you up for success this year.
If you do not have a specific behaviour you want to stop or begin, New Years can also be a great time to set an intention for the upcoming year. Perhaps you want to practice being more mindful, kind or grateful. It can be a reflective time, asking yourself, “who do I want to be in my family, work and community this year?” and strive for that enhanced version of yourself. At Island Family Counselling Centre we would be pleased to help you reach these goals.
But we like to depend on experts. This 4 year old gets my vote!
All the best to you and yours! Cole and the IFC family