Between the pandemic and the economic crisis, it’s been an incredibly rough year for nearly everyone. Chances are you’re glad to see 2020 in the rearview mirror. Now’s the time to wipe the slate clean and refresh. If you’re like a lot of folks, that means setting intentions and prioritizing self-care.
Trade Resolutions for Goals
Most New Year’s Resolutions fall by the wayside by February. So do yourself a favor this year and don’t make resolutions. Make goals instead. Why? By definition, resolutions rely on will power — and recent research has shown that lasting change doesn’t actually come from will power. (Surprise!) It comes from forming habits that meet your goals.
Make SMART Goals
Whether you want to eat better, sleep more, or start exercising, the best goals are SMART. That’s short for:
- Relevant to you
Rather than just deciding to eat more vegetables, add one serving to what you’re already eating in an average day. It’s a small change you can probably manage, and it will add up to seven extra servings in a week — no small potatoes! Because it’s a clearly defined, easily measured goal, you’ll know if you’re hitting your mark.
Take It One Goal at a Time
It’s easy to make grand plans once you’ve experienced the taste of success, but it’s important not to set too many goals at once. If you decide to go vegan, train for a marathon, volunteer for the PTA, and finish the towering pile of books on your nightstand all at the same time, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Plus, you’ll be stressed and unhappy. Master one goal, then move on to the next.
Give Your Nervous System a Break
After the year we’ve just had, it’s just as important to take care of your mental health as you would your physical health. Stress relief is highly individualized, but you probably already know what makes you feel calm and centered. Is it a cup of tea in a quiet house before everyone else wakes? A half hour with a novel before bed? Dedicated time for quiet time, a walk around the neighborhood, or time alone with someone special to you?
Whatever it is, make it a regular part of your schedule, so you don’t keep thinking you’ll get around to it eventually. (You know how that ends.) Carve a specific time slot out of your day just for this calming ritual so it becomes a habit, not an afterthought. You’ll be glad you did.
Here’s to a healthy, happy 2021!
 Wood, Wendy. Good Habits, Bad Habits: A Conversation with Wendy Wood. Behavioral Scientist. Oct. 14, 2019. https://behavioralscientist.org/good-habits-bad-habits-a-conversation-with-wendy-wood/
 SMART Goals: How to Make Your Goals Achievable. MindTools. https://www.mindtools.com/pages/article/smart-goals.htm