Okay, we’re several days into the new year and I’m so excited to talk about resolutions! In this month’s Tualatin Life Article, I wrote about setting mini-goals instead of the same old resolutions that get recycled every year and I wanted to provide a little more information and hopefully inspiration for that.
First, I mentioned that I was going to share some of my goals. I’m not quite certain I’m ready to set 12 goals for 2020, but I do have a few items I’m working on (not using any straws, reducing single use plastic, saving money, reducing screen time) and have set my first two month challenges. I like phrasing my mini-goal or mini-resolution as a challenge – it makes it feel a little more fun and turns it into a bit of a game.
My January challenge, which I have already mentioned, is to drink 64 ounces of water each day. Hydration is so important for health and I know that I get dehydrated on some days, especially when I’m busy working in the clinic, so setting this goal/challenge/resolution is very practical. For my mini-resolutions, I am hoping that starting the new habit for 30 days kicks off better habits in general, so it’s not as if I’m going to arrive at February 1st and stop drinking water. It’s just that I’m focusing on water for these 30 days.
I have already set a mini goal for February which is related to exercise. The current recommendation for how much exercise is 150 minutes per week. Since I’m not quite there, my February goal is to do 15 minutes of exercise EVERY DAY for thirty days. That’s still shy of 150 minutes per week, but thinking of and planning for activity or exercise on a daily basis is a great habit to get into and it’s likely that if I start exercising for any length of time, I will do more than 15 minutes at least some of the days. For example, I play racquetball once a week for an hour so that day I already get to check off my 15 minutes for the day and I get a bonus 45 minutes (which brings my total, conveniently, to 150 minutes).
What goals are you working on? Do you want to join me in working on the same goals? Feel free to comment below and share what you are working on.
I mentioned SMART goals in the article. I’m a big fan of this acronym which for our purposes stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Let’s use my January mini-resolution as an example.
Specific – I want to drink 64 ounces of water. Saying “drink more water” is useful, but how much? 64 ounces is Specific.
Measurable – I often drink out of mason jars or travel thermoses of know volume, so this is easy for me. I fill up a 32 ounce mason jar twice a day and if I drink it down, I’ve reached my goal. If you’ve been specific in setting your goal, I usually find that measuring follows from the specificity of your goal. If the goal is a number (of ounces, of minutes, of steps…), it can usually be measured.
Attainable – I know that I drink 64 ounces of water some days, so it’s definitely possible to do it every day. It is within reach and with my attention on it, I can achieve this. It’s great to set stretch goals, but if you start a goal, resolution or challenge thinking or knowing something can’t be done, that can become an excuse to quit part way through. I think balance this aspect of goal-setting is one of the most important – you want your goals to challenge you, but you also want to ensure you achieve a level of success.
Relevant – This goes to something I mentioned in my article – knowing your WHY. Without a compelling reason why, a goal can seem arbitrary and it can be hard to maintain our commitment to it. I know I feel better when I’m more hydrated and that being hydrated is good for my health, so this goal is relevant for me.
Time-Bound – Goals set for a 30 day period are by nature time-bound.
To see what I’ve written previously about SMART goals, click here.
I also recommend utilizing the methods described in Atomic Habits by James Clear to help you achieve your goals. I described the strategy Mr. Clear recommends in this article. The jist of the method is to to make habits you are adding obvious, attractive, easy and satisfying and to make habits you are ending the opposite of those. I use the examples of eating more vegetables and quitting smoking in my article and there are more examples and details in the book, which I highly recommend. Let’s see how I’m using this strategy for drinking more water this month:
You don’t have to do a ton of work or journal this out for every habit every time, but if you give it some thought, I am willing to bet you’ll come a little further forward in accomplishing your goals.
Next month, I’ll report back on how I did with my water goal and write a little more about what to do after the time frame expires on our goal, whether more or less successful than we hope or expect to be. I hope that you are inspired to work on some goals this month and throughout the year. If you want to share your goals and how they have gone, feel free to comment below and check back for February’s post for another opportunity to check in.