January is normally a time to make New Year’s resolutions, and set personal goals for the year ahead. This year, rather than make the same old resolutions and goals only to be disappointed by April, there might be another option to see you through the whole year.
When counsellors or coaches talk about goal-setting they often mean setting ‘SMART’ goals. This stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time bound. SMART goals have their use and can be useful checkpoints to reach your target.
For example, a weight loss SMART goal is “I will eat five servings of vegetables each day for a month” or “I will walk 20 minutes each morning before 9am from now to June.” The problem starts when you grabbed that comfort bucket of takeout for dinner or the 20 minutes’ daily walk slipped to include a weekend sleep-in and a couple days walking every fortnight. Now the goals are sliding. A certain amount of self-blame makes things worse.
Rather than focus on the usual goals along the lines of weight-loss, healthier diet, and greater fitness, this 2024 how about trying something completely different?
Instead of focusing on a New Year’s resolution of weight-loss, how about a goal to ‘enjoy life more’? This could look like a resolution to do something enjoyable each day. These are the very simple pleasurable free things like walking past the florist and smelling the roses or jonquils (which costs nothing), wearing a favourite pair of shoes to work or school, or a hot shower and drying off with that sun-dried towel. It could be the smell of the coffee in the morning, or looking forward to a favourite nighttime TV show or podcast.
Instead of a New Year’s resolution for a better diet, how about committing to ‘doing one self-care activity a day’? Anything that gives you a feeling of renewal or that ‘recharges your batteries’ is a self-care activity. This could include listening to music that lifts your mood, getting out from behind the desk and taking a lunchtime stroll, noting what makes you say ‘yay!’, taking 10 minutes to watch a favourite comedian on TikTok, unfollow social media accounts or people who bring you down. Self-care also includes noticing how you’re talking to yourself and not beating yourself up.
Instead of a resolution around ‘greater physical fitness’, how about an aim to ‘learn one new thing a day’? This includes asking ‘why’ as a way of life learning. As silly as it might sound, questions like Why is the sky blue? Why is water wet? Why do we smell rain? are all ways to start cultivating a curiosity about our everyday world. It can also mean starting a new hobby, or doing a daily crossword. Today there’s a number of free online learning platforms offering courses. A 20-minute TED talk usually offers at least one new thing to learn.
Over the coming year, how about choosing to do the things that refresh and renew you. Let’s enjoy the next 365 days in a deeper, happier and more balanced way.