Updated: Feb 7, 2019
Ahh, new year's resolutions. So much potential, so many goals, intentions, aspirations… I am looking over my intentions for 2019 and feeling one part thrilled and one part anxious. I want to really stretch myself this year and grow to new heights while still keeping my feet on the ground. Attunement Counseling’s blog is all about employing a belt of useful tools and maintaining a motivational framework that inspires rather than deflates. Below is a breakdown of a few of my favorite tools for meeting all those aspirational goals.
First thing’s first, creating SMART goals. SMART goals stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. This method for creating goals calls for a little more upfront investment with a long-term felt payoff. Let's use the example of a physical fitness goal that is adjusted using the SMART method. Set ourselves up for success, no?! The goal is to “Be more fit in 2019”. This goal may be descriptive enough for some - we go to the gym more, we walk more, we eat better. How do we know we were more fit in 2019? And what does fit, more, better even mean? This is where SMART goal as a creation platform is pure gold.
Specific: Describe exactly what fit means so that when you get there you know success is yours when you meet it first hand! For this example of physical fitness, let's say fit means able to run a nine minute mile, lose five pounds and stop eating all wheat products. Great, now we know more specifically what fit means to you. This specificity is KEY! Defining what we are after lets us know when we have reached our destination. Otherwise, the goal of being fit may always loom over our head as an abstract, undefined characteristic of ourselves that ends up haunting us. Specificity gives us a recipe and a road map.
Measurable: Which is met in this example by objective markers - nine minute mile, five pounds and zero wheat products consumed for two months. Objective, pre-determined definitions of how your will know you have reached your goal will dramatically boost your relationship with goal setting. Because now, you will also be meeting said goals creating a much more positive association with planned change.
Attainable: What are all the different resources you will need internally and externally to meet your goal? Do you have access to these currently or able to acquire them and when? This is where lofty goals transform into concrete ones. We all have romantic ideas of how we would like to shift and change. To create a relationship with change that is positive and progressive, setting yourself up for success by closely and honestly examining what you need and what you have available is a critical step in making real change. Ask, “Is this within reach?” Some will debate that creating unattainable goals and striving for them is best as you will surpass your expectations, fall short of the goal, yet still improve by design of a nearly unobtainable goal. In contrast, I lean on the Snowball Effect. Winning smaller more realistic successes in my perspective creates motivation for larger wins down the road. Especially for those of us who are stuck in old patterns and find comfort in the familiar. For those who also identify as a positively motivated soul need to have consistent moments feedback that we are moving towards our predefined measure of success to stay motivated and create notable change.
Relevant: Let's break this down to a value based concept. What is meaningful for you? Not for your partner, parents, kids, culture, etc. What do you value? If you don’t yet have a list of your top five values, this is a great place to start before moving forward towards accomplishing any goals. Because when the going gets tough and you want to crush that piece of pie from Aunt Carol, what keeps you from eating it and sticking to your health goal? Do you really want to be five pounds lighter, not feel bloated, offer your skin another month of radiance? I offer the “Five Whys” as a great way to help gain clarity. Channel your inner three year old and ask "Why" until you find the deeper motivation resting below your reason to pursue a specific goal. All this to discover, Does this goal/intention align with what I truly want, for me - no one else?
Time-based: Discover the exact date that you want to have accomplished your goal then working backwards, create a timeline of actionable to-dos to complete. Keeping your timelines realistic is vital. Consider your current rhythms and leave buffer room if needed. The added layer for lasting success here is to schedule time to review your timeline and how you are addressing the action items. Holding this type of personal accountability builds trust with oneself strengthen yet further your own capacity to create positive change in your life.
This goals tool has been a core element for the goals I have been successful accomplishing. Lastly I’ll offer, Compassion. This is the ability to accept yourself in all your colorful modes, moods and levels of functioning. The core behind compassion is to love the being not the doing. Begin the process of change by focusing on the perfection of your humanity, your expression of life, of spirit. The manifestation of who you are at your centerfold is exactly as you should be. Let the changing of the doing rest in the acknowledgement of the perfection of your being. Compassion rests in the seat of acceptance. A stunning read that weaves this concept into daily acceptance of our human experience is, Radical Acceptance: Embracing your life with the heart of the Buddha by Tara Brach. May your compassionate nature lead nurture your reach to be the best version of yourself!