The holiday season is here bringing along food, family arguments and flavorful cocktails. The typical pattern includes closing October with a candy binge, followed by two months of gluttony in the name of holiday parties and ‘grandma wants to see a clean plate’. We justify stuffing ourselves and falling out of our physical activity routines with the promise that in the new year we will once again be restored to the perfect picture of health.
The ‘new year, new me’ posts are quickly approaching, I can feel it in my dietitian bones. If you didn’t like kale in 2018, Brenda, you aren’t going to like it in 2019. Setting yourself up in the new year with large, unrealistic expectations is not the way to go- unless two weeks later you enjoy the feeling of shame and defeat.
Goal setting is an important part of growth and progress, but we tend to go about it all wrong. Long term goals should be supported short term goals that are stepping stones to the big picture. Setting goals to work towards should not just be a once a year endeavor. In an ideal life- you should be setting short term and long term goals, achieving them through hard work with a patient attitude, and then making new goals to keep working for more.
Long Term VS Short Term Goals
Long term goals usually take six months or longer to accomplish. This should be something forward thinking to the big picture. The short term goals will be about six months or less- think near future what you want to achieve. The long term goals should be supported by short term goals or check points to help get you on your way to long term sustainable change. Both long term and short term goals should be SMART goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound. The goals need to be specific and measurable so you know what you have to achieve and have something to work towards. When setting goals, they must be realistic and attainable. It’s good to challenge yourself, but it is not good to burden yourself with unrealistic expectations and set yourself up for failure. Set an end cap of when you want to achieve this goal by.
Here’s an example of a loose goal:
I want to run faster.
Here’s an example of how to make that goal a SMART goal:
By March 31st, 2019, I want to be able to run a sub 7 minute mile.
That goal gives a specific measure and target date, so you have something to train for. It should be realistic for your body or life (be honest with yourself!) and relevant to your big picture, life purpose and long term goals. SMART goals can be a powerful tool to keep you focused and on track throughout the year. Goal setting should be revisited more than the once-a-year scramble to blurt out a lofty goal on New Year’s Eve to sound like a go-getter in front of your friends at a party.
Food for Thought
This holiday season, don’t throw your healthy habits out the window and tell yourself you will pick up the pieces January 1st. This season is meant to be enjoyed, and all good things can come in moderation. Your mind and body will thank you for working on balance during this chaotic time of year instead of swinging the pendulum from one extreme in December, to the other in January.
Setting your SMART goals can start now, and you can go into the new year with confidence while already set on your path to positive growth and change. If you think the ‘Sunday scaries’ are bad, don’t even go down the road of the New Year’s Day dread.