Happy New YEAR! How are your New Year’s resolutions coming?  Do you need a little help to get you more focused or to help you get on the bandwagon? I love New Year's with its virginal new beginnings and the idea of out with the old, in with the new.  New Years is a great time to clean up everything emotionally, mentally, physically, and to let go of the past.  It's a great time to start fresh. My niece does not understand what the big deal about the new year was, but I guess at 12, you're not celebrating too many new beginnings or enjoying that you survived another year of the challenges of life.  For me, I actually start planning for the new year right around Thanksgiving and begin implementing small changes in my life in an effort to do damage control at the onset of the holidays. In this way, I can optimize my holiday experiences. In November I added 1 extra day of working out to prevent the weight gain that the holidays tend to bring with all it's sugary sweets. I created an action plan to avoid completely blowing all the health successes that I achieved through out the year, then I use the momentum of the New Year to refine my goals and set new ones, to reflect on what I learned the past year, and to physically write down my goals and place them somewhere that I can see them everyday (like my bathroom mirror).  This keeps me motivated and focused daily on what I'm trying to do.  Sometimes I fail and drop the ball, or I lose momentum as the year continues on, just like everyone else, but the point for me is to try and improve at every opportunity possible because even if I do not achieve the full goal I originally set, my small changes and small achievements tend to stick around, so that the next time when I try to reach the same goal, I am one step closer. That being said, there are ways to set goals to help improve your chances of finally reaching what you set out to do.  Writing them down is a big step.  This can give you a chance to see the goals on paper and help you to clarify what you're trying to do.  Setting an action plan for achieving those goals helps you plan step-by-step the path that you're going to use to get to your success. There are other steps used by medical practitioners, 

entrepreneurs

, and CEOs to help them to actualize their goals.  I have included the steps for setting S.M.A.R.T. goals to help you improve your odds, so without further ado, here's some information to follow as you set your New Year's resolutions.

S=Specific: What exactly are you trying to achieve?  I will use the example of weight loss because that is my goal this year.   My specific goal this year is to lose some of the extra weight I gained while I was in grad school.

M=Measurable:  How much do I actually want to lose?  For me, it’s 15 pounds. Goals should be measurable so that you know you’re heading in the right direction, and you know when you have achieved your goal.

A=Action-oriented:  What steps am I going to take to reach this goal?  Am I consulting with a nutritionist to get a grasp on how to eat better?  Am I going to run or go to the gym?  What action am I going to take?  For me, I feel like I have enough nutrition information to eat well, so I’m going to go to the gym 3 times a week and consult with a personal trainer to make sure I am maximizing my workouts.  Later, if I’m not reaching my goals, I will reconsider a nutritionist.

R=Realistic:  Are my goals realistic?  Seriously, this is something I see every day at the clinic I work at.  Not all goals are realistic. For example, if you make $50,000 a year as your annual salary, you’re not likely going to set a goal to save $100,000 with in the next year, so be realistic.  For weight loss, the question is, do I really have 15 pounds that I can lose?  For me, the answer is a resounding YES!  I am over weight, but that may not be true for everyone, so be realistic and seek outside help from professionals if you’re not sure if your goal is realistic.  If it’s saving money, see a financial planner; if it’s weight loss, see a doctor, you get the point.

T=Time bound: When do you want to have this goal accomplished?  There needs to be a time limit so that you know there’s a deadline for what you’re trying to do.  This also holds you accountable to yourself, and gives you a chance to check in with yourself and make sure you are on track for your deadline. 

So there it is.  My S.M.A.R.T. goal for 2016 is to lose 15 pounds in 6 months by cutting refined sugars and working out at the gym.  In addition, I can do other things to help myself achieve this goal, like tell some friends, so they can check in with me.  I can break this down into smaller bite size goals or write it down and post it on my mirror and refrigerator to remind me what I am working towards when I want to mindlessly munch food.  I can also cut myself some slack if I slip and eat a chocolate chip cookie, and remember, anything worth doing is going to be challenging.  The key is not to give up.  Remember if you slip, it’s not the end of the world because tomorrow you get a fresh start.

I hope this helps to assist you in reaching all of your goals this year.  Whether you are just starting, getting back on track, or continuing what you have already began, this can be another tool to help you along the way.  For more goal oriented information or health information, check out  more of my blog

. You can also find me on Facebook at Noor Holistic Health.  

Remember, before starting any new weight loss programs or changing your diet, please consult with a physician.

Sources:

http://www.hr.virginia.edu/uploads/documents/media/Writing_SMART_Goals.pdf

http://www.envisionexperience.com/~/media/images/blog/smart-goals.jpg

*** In an effort to avoid plagiarizing myself, it should be noted that much of the information contained here has been submitted for publication in The Points Living, Feb. 2016, magazine.