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I was raised in a goal-setting family. From an early age, I remember piling around the kitchen table at the beginning of the new year to share goals and ambitions for the next 12 months.
Old habits die hard, I guess, because I’m still setting goals to this day. In the past few months, I’ve read several inspiring books, articles, and blog posts about success, goal-setting, achievement, and self-esteem. I mostly talk about food here with you, but in 2012 my plan is to toss in a few posts now and then related to healthy living, not just eating. True nourishment comes to us in so many forms besides what we eat, so I hope to touch on those topics more frequently in the coming months.
From my reading, I’ve jotted down a few take-aways that I thought I’d share with you related to goal-setting:
- Setting goals helps us channel our often random thoughts, hopes, and energies into a step-by-step, actionable plan. Our lists of goals should be more than just a checklist that we strive to cross off. While there is definitely a sense of accomplishment that comes from achieving what we put on paper, the bigger point of goal-setting is to move toward our challenges in a positive, progressive way. The journey toward achievement is often where the greatest growth occurs in our lives, so I think it’s important (though very difficult!) to not rush the process.
- Vague goals produce vague results. In 2012, I am trying to be much more specific and clear in my goal-setting. Simply writing down something like “I want to drink more water” leaves a lot of gray area. A better goal would be “I will drink XX ounces of water each day, reminding myself with a timer every half hour to fill up my glass.” By being more defined with our goals, we’re setting ourselves up for success and visible results.
- Some goals require a good deal of “chunking down.” It’s important to set big goals in order to challenge and stretch ourselves, but they often need to be broken down considerably into manageable steps. To do this, we need to look at our goals from a bird’s eye view, keeping the big picture in perspective. Start with the chunking down your goals into big steps, then break those down into smaller ones. Remember that you eat an elephant one bite at a time, you climb Mount Everest one step at a time, and you write a novel one word at a time. No step is too small.
My list of goals is pretty long right now, and I understand that it’s unlikely that I will achieve them all in just one year. The point is, though, that I’m working toward desired outcomes in my life and that I’m channeling my efforts in a clearly defined way. To me, that’s what matters most.
In addition to vocational/career goals and those related to family/social life, I always enjoy setting a few goals for personal wellness. I break down wellness goals into four categories:
- Physical/Exercise – relating to fitness, movement, and physical strength
- Emotional/Spiritual – relating to inner emotions, spiritual growth, and mental strength
- Food/Diet – relating to the food I put into my body
- Personal – relating to me as a person (character qualities, fun stuff, hobbies, etc.)
I have more than one goal falling into each of these four buckets, but I thought I’d share with you just a few of my wellness goals for 2012. Another take-away that hit home with me recently from my reading is the importance of communicating your goals and aspirations to others. Keeping them stuffed inside is not only poor for spiritual and mental health, but it’s also an easy way to avoid sticking with them! Accountability plays a critical role in helping us keep on track with our goals.
- Physical/Exercise Goal: Stretch more. This past fall, I’ve gotten into a consistent exercise routine (more on this next week) that has me feeling fantastic. The area that needs improvement is my flexibility and stretching regimen. To clarify this vague goal into a clearer one…. “I will stretch for 10-15 minutes after each of my workouts and commit to taking one or two yoga classes each week. I will also try to stretch in periods of down-time, like when I’m watching the news, on the floor playing with the dog, etc.”
- Emotional/Spiritual Goal: Keep anxiety in check. What can I say? I’m a worry wart! It’s easy to let life’s ups and downs turn my heart into a knotted mess. I’m working on clarifying this goal into a more clear, actionable one. I’m finding it tough to come up with steps for something like this, but I think that even just acknowledging it as a goal is a step in the right direction.
- Food/Diet Goal: Tweak my diet to support my exercise/physical training. I began making some changes to my diet this fall, mainly transitioning to a low-sugar, low-grain eating plan. I’ve kept up with it and am feeling great. In the new year, I would like to adjust my eating plan a bit more to continue to support my activity level.
- Personal Goal: Read more books. In September, I launched into my “brilliant plan” to read a book a week for the entire year. It sounded fun and easy at the time (I’m a pretty fast reader), but guess how long it lasted? About six books into it, I hit a busy week, fell off the wagon, and haven’t gotten back on since. I think the book-a-week plan is a bit too ambitious for me at this point, so I’m adjusting it to two books per month. (If I get more in, great. We’ll see…) Reading brings me so much pleasure and is one of my favorite ways to decompress besides cooking. I’m greatly looking forward to getting back in the habit!
This is just a snapshot of what I’ve been planning lately. I’d love to hear your thoughts on goal-setting and new year’s resolutions. Do you have any goals—big or small—for 2012? Please share in the comments. I’d love to support you in achieving them!
Stay on Track with Your Wellness Goals, Too!
If you’re just not sure where to start when it comes to healthy eating and setting challenging goals, making sustainable changes, and moving toward a more pure lifestyle, don’t miss New Year, New You which kicks off this Thursday, January 5th! Read all about it here.
You’ll also want to check out The Balanced Platter (TBP), a brand new website that just launched on January 1st. I will be contributing healthy recipes and tips every month along with many other talented bloggers. Founded by two incredible women, TBP is designed to be a source of inspiration and motivation when it comes to sticking with your healthy living goals. To kick off the new site in the month of January, TBP is celebrating the new year with a massive blog event: Balanced, Healthy, & Gluten-Free in 2012. Check out all the details here!