Forget Resolutions, Set Goals for 2017!

How happy are you with where you are, this very moment? Health, Family, Career? I always like to take the last day of the year as a time to reflect, to be very honest with myself and assess where things stand.  Am I fulfilled with what I’m doing every day?  Am I challenging myself enough?  Am I taking opportunities to develop my business and grow as a human being? What’s lacking? And what do I need to change? Once that’s clear, I can get to work with goal setting. Not making resolutions. What’s the diff? A resolution is a firm decision to do or not to do something. How many times have you firmly decided to exercise every single day, to never eat sugar again or to stop drinking all forms of alcohol in one fell swoop? How many years have you make this firm decision with the intention that it would just so happen to begin on January 1st? Did you have a plan or did you think you’d suddenly elicit a stronger than steel will power you’ve never experienced before which would magically allow you to breeze through hurdles and obstacles with no issue whatsoever? How’s that been working for you? Considering only 8% of people are successful at sticking to their resolutions (1), it seems safe to say for most, not very well. Here’s an idea: how about not making resolutions? How about goals instead? Goal: the object of a person’s ambition or effort; an aim or desired result. And not just a goal, a “SMART” goal (2): Specific – target a specific area for improvement. Measurable – quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. Assignable – specify who will do it. Realistic – state what results can realistically be achieved, given available resources. Time-related – specify when the result(s) can be achieved Let’s play out how a resolution might look, compared to a tangible, measurable goal: Scenario A: You’ve been reading about cleaning up your diet, and are aware that you could really stand to benefit from cutting out refined carbs quite a bit. You firmly decide you are going to cut all grains, dairy, legumes and white sugar. However,  you never really put two and two together to make the connection that when you eat gluten, you get a headache, and you also didn’t give it long enough of a trial, so three days into your first stint, you thought you’d implement a bit an old habit and have a sandwich for lunch. So, slowly but surely your firm decision to go grain free turned into nothing more than a three day stint at adding a bit more veggies and making some better protein choices (still a good step in the right direction) but overall, not likely the amount of progress you’d have had if it had been positioned a bit more clearly, like a goal rather than a resolution. Scenario B: You set a goal to implement the an eating plan, based on local, sustainable, in season foods into your lifestyle. You then break it down into the five components of a SMART goal, but first, make sure you’re clear as to why you’re doing it, how long it’s realistically going to take for you to see results as well as being honest and kind enough to yourself to determine if you’re going to give yourself a chance to see it through. (The answer to ‘how long’, by the way, varies greatly from person to person and depends on what their individual reasons for trying to improve their food choices are. If you’ve got acne, you’ll begin seeing results very quickly as skin cells regenerate very quickly; autoimmune conditions, however, can take significantly longer as neurological tissue is much slower to respond). Don’t misread this; any small steps you make toward being healthier are certainly worth acknowledging and incorporating. The key is to be sure to associate how big to how small the steps are in relation to what your desired end result is. Two people who are exactly the same height and have exactly the same amount of excess body fat to lose could arguably be two very different case studies if person #1 goes 100% clean eating and adds more sleep and a consistent exercise routine to their life while person #2 simply goes gluten free, cuts down a little on sugar and goes outside a few times per week to walk. There’s no wrong approach; just sort out which one is more applicable to you and set your goals accordingly. Using person #1, then, the SMART 2017 goal could be: S: build into a completely Paleo diet over the course of one month to then test a full Paleo-inspired regime for 30 days. M: eliminate all gluten during the 1st week of January. The second week: cut out all grains. The third week: cut out all grains and all legumes. The fourth week: cut out all grains, legumes and dairy, (By February, you’ll be ready for a 100% 4-week Paleo trial!) A: you must do it. If you’re not ready, it’s not going to happen. R: since you’ve already gone through the exercise reviewed above, this should be clear. In a one month build to a second month of 30 days of 100% Paleo, it’s reasonable to feel more energized, have better digestion, improved quality of sleep and lose a few pounds. Set this up as though you were making suggestions kindly to a dear friend, rather than trying to come at it from an angle where you’re acting as a warden to yourself and trying to force the idea of losing fifty pounds the first week. Not fair. Not realistic. T: In two months’ time, all of the above can realistically be achieved, but you’ll want to reward and remind yourself along the way, so set up a way to track, whether it’s by keeping records of sleep using an APP, your weight by weighing in once weekly on the same scale under the same conditions and so forth. Keep both the big picture and the small picture in mind simultaneously, be present and focused and remember that you’re the one in control of what you put in your mouth and the subsequent positive effects or ramifications. One thing I can promise you, without even knowing your goal, is that with rare exception, properly implementing a grain-free, higher fat diet is going to benefit you in the long run, even if you are feeling worried it’s going to be too painful to stop eating cereal or bread or tofu. While I’ve chosen to use an example of diet for this post (after all, losing weight is the #1 resolution across the board), I encourage goal setting for all areas of life. We can all chose to live by default or design.   Why not take the more courageous route and design what we’d like our lives to be? No matter where we are, we can create whatever we want, be it remaining small and stuck or boundless, bountiful and limitless. So go ahead and get out your pencil + paper- studies show (3) simply writing your goals down is the very important first step! Happy New Year!   (1) “New Years Resolution Statistics.” N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 20162 (2) “What Is a SMART Goal? | Acronym Smart Goals.” What Is a SMART Goal? | Acronym Smart Goals. N.p., n.d. Web. 31 Dec. 2016. (3) Ellevate. “Why You Should Be Writing Down Your Goals.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 15 Apr. 2016. Web. 31 Dec. 2016.