Welcome to 2016. I know this is a few days late but for many of us today feels like the start of the new year. It is the return to work, school, schedules, etc. It is the new beginning after the long holiday weekend. In some ways I am feeling a little sad about the start of this year. I love having my family home for the holidays and spending a lot of quality time together. Today, that all changes as everyone heads back to more normal routines. However, in other ways I am looking forward to this new start. This year will bring changes to our family that are exciting for me both personally and professionally. The start of the new year is giving me time to reflect on those changes and what I want things to look like in the new year both for my counseling practice and for my family. As I have been thinking about these changes I have also been thinking about goals to help me make the most of those changes and what they mean for me.
I am not a huge fan of New Year’s Resolutions. I feel like all too often resolutions are just lip service. Something we tell ourselves we are going to do with no real plan in place. I feel like resolutions are too easy to give up on. I like goals better. It may just be semantics, but to me goals are more realistic, more likely to be reached. When done right goals have an end achievement in mind and a plan for how to reach that achievement.
In counseling we talk about goals with clients a lot. Goals for personal growth, goals for healthy relationships, goals for dealing with a specific issue. Goals are a driving force behind effective therapy. One of the things we talk about when working with clients on goal setting is making sure goals are S.M.A.R.T. What are SMART goals? SMART goals are:
Specific: Goals should be as specific as possible. Narrow it down from something general like “get healthy” to a more specific “work out for an hour 3 times a week.” The more specific your goals are the more clarity you have on where you are headed.
Measurable: Measurements helps us to know whether or not we are meeting our specific goal. They give you specific feedback on your goal and hold you accountable.
Attainable: It is important that your goals be something that you can achieve while still pushing yourself. When your goal is not attainable you are setting yourself up for failure.
Realistic: Is the goal and timeline set realistic? A goal like “Running the mini in May” is probably not realistic if you haven’t already been training. However, a goal of running a 5k by the end of the year may be more realistic and still put you on the path of a healthier lifestyle.
Time-bound: Setting a time frame for accomplishing your goal will help to keep you on track and accountable.
As you are thinking about your goals for the new year. Step-back and ask yourself are these goals S.M.A.R.T? If not, you may want to reassess your goals for the year ahead!