Craving that Fresh Start Feeling?


You're not alone.


Many of us look forward to that fresh start feeling that we often associate with each new year. It can be a time to consider the possibilities and propel ourselves into action. With so much mayhem and uncertainty in the world, it can be helpful to ground ourselves by focusing on a goal that will enhance life in some way. It's also empowering to exert control by working toward a chosen goal. I've included suggestions to help you jumpstart your efforts.

Build on what's already going well. Goals seem achievable when we realize that we're expanding in an area versus starting from scratch. Consider good habits you already have. For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, you might notice that you tend to eat in a healthful way the first half of the day, so your goal might be to “extend healthy eating habits into the evening.”

Be specific and write it down. If a goal is too broad, it will feel too big and likely cause you to pull away or procrastinate. For example, if you have a “get in shape” goal, consider being specific with your expectations. What does being in shape mean to you? Some prefer a goal that includes how much weight they can lift or how far they can run while others might be content with the ability to take the stairs without a labored breath. Be sure to set a reasonable timeline. Is a daily workout routine reasonable? It might not be depending on other commitments, so set realistic expectations when it comes to the time commitment. Finally, write down your goal and its parameters and log progress along the way.

Start with small steps. If setting your goal feels heavy or cumbersome, chances are that it's a case of too much too soon. This can be especially true if you're embarking on a goal that is completely new or a big life change. Making it too involved or setting high expectations can feel complicated and overwhelming. This can result in abandoning the goal out of frustration. Start small. If your goal is to get a new job and perhaps even the job of your dreams, your first step might be to “research jobs in my area” and a second step might be “update my resume.” If you find yourself pulling back from it or sighing at the amount of work required, that's a red flag. Whatever is required to get started, break it down. A goal that is properly set will be one that you are drawn to and feel motivated to get started.

Utilize technology resources. Apps and other online tools can be helpful, especially if you're having trouble deciding where or how to begin. For the workout goal mentioned above, there are numerous resources offering programs you can do at home. Do your research to find one that meets your needs. The first one you choose might not be a match, so keep experimenting until you find one that fits.

Be aware of barriers. We certainly don't want to put all of our focus on what might trip us up. It can be helpful, however, to be aware of any patterns or habits that might show up and have a plan in place to address them. For example, if your goal involves researching a home project and you also enjoy time on Facebook or Instagram, be aware of the tendency to get sidetracked. Getting distracted with social media can result in lost hours that could have been devoted to your goal.

Use “I am” statements. When we use the phrase “I am,” it immediately communicates that we are present and in the midst of it. As soon as we set an intention, we have already begun so why not frame it that way? There's no downside. Using the phrases “I will” or “I plan to” implies that the goal lies outside of your present experience. As you talk about your goals, try using the phrase “I am” and notice what happens. “I am going back to school” instead of “I will be going back to school” demonstrates commitment and is a powerful “all in” statement.

All the best to you in 2021!


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