Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Coach Laura: A New Year

A new year for many of us means turning over a new leaf, setting new goals or "resolutions," then after two or three days, abandoning those resolutions for the comfort of old habits and a familiar lifestyle.

I am much like Madame L in my beliefs about new year's resolutions. It's not that I think that they are useless or meaningless, but I believe that there is a need to change, there is no need to wait until a new year to do so. I also believe that the problem with new year's resolutions is that they are easily made and just as easily broken. 

As you consider what changes you want to make to your life or lifestyle this year, don't limit yourself to thinking of it in terms of a year. 

You probably already know the basic guidelines of goal-setting - make it a SMART goal :
S - Specific
M - Measurable
A - Attainable
R - Realistic
T - Time-bound

Madame L has also already given some great counsel about setting goals. Additionally, I have one more thought to leave with you as you consider goals you want to set - whether they be new year's resolutions or changes you want to make.

Instead of thinking in broad, grandiose terms like, "I'm going to go to the gym three times a week," or, "I'm going to stop eating sugar," or, "I'm going to lose 25 pounds," all of which are worthy things to want to achieve - put those goals in terms of how you want to FEEL. 

Forcing yourself to go to the gym three times a week just because you made a hasty "new year's resolution" on December 31 starts to feel like a chore and major guilt trip the first time you don't make it three times in one week. No one wants to feel guilty for trying to do good things. 

Replace the negative goal/resolution thoughts with things like, "I feel better when I exercise. I like going to the gym because there are people/classes/instructors there I like and I feel better after exercising."

Or, "I feel better when I don't eat sugary treats and select a healthier option instead. Things I like eating that are good for me are apples, pears or raspberries. I will go to the store and buy some fruit that  I like and tomorrow will have a serving of fruit instead of a cookie."

Implementing good choices and thinking about them in terms of how those choices affect how you feel will help you eventually get to that goal of losing weight, or whatever it is. 

Do still set SMART goals, but don't let yourself feel guilty or have negative thoughts the first time you don't implement one perfectly. Be gentle with yourself and just keep moving forward. 

Happy New Year! I hope that this year is filled not only with health for you, but goodness and joy.


Aunt Louise said...

Great advice, and thanks for mentioning for us to be gentle with ourselves. I think that's the hardest thing for me!

AskTheGeologist said...

Most EXCELLENT suggestions - realistic and to the point.