We’re three days into 2016 and I can personally say so far, it has been much the same as last year for me. A good start. I’ve caught up with friends and family, done some relaxing, had a few too many naps and in true Katie style, I’ve stressed over something unnecessary too. Pretty much standard as far as my life goes, except that I entered this year with a much more positive attitude than previous years.
Pretty much every new year of my life, has started out hungover and full of good intentions. I didn’t so much make New Years Resolutions (although for about 10 years there was always the ‘I’m going to quit smoking on January 1st’ decision that usually lasted a day or two), but I always entered each year thinking, this year I’m going to do better, I’m going to lose weight, exercise more, blah blah blah and of course each year, nothing ever really came of it.
Last year, I entered the New Year with a single plan, to find out the root cause of my eczema through diet. It was something I’d been planning for a while, but I purposely didn’t start it on New Years day because I didn’t want to fail. Something in my mind associates New Years Resolutions with failure and if you look at the statistics, there is a lot of evidence to support this. Just before I started the Elimination Diet I did something I’d never done before: I set goals for the year.
Goals and resolutions are two different things. Resolutions are almost a negative thing. They are a way of looking at who we are, our behaviour and what we don’t like about ourselves. We might not like our weight, so we will decide that it’s time to lose it. We might not like how much we spend on trivial things, so we will decide to become more thrifty. Sure, at face value these don’t seem like horrible negative things that we have put out into the world, but in order to come to these conclusions, we have had to take a look at ourselves in a critical way. I’m all for self improvement, but there must be a better way to do it.
Resolutions are either thought up on a whim, just before the new year, sometimes even while we are out celebrating it and are therefore terribly unplanned. Or they can be decided in advance, sometimes months in advance but again are often left unplanned. It’s more of a fobbing off technique we can use to trick ourselves into thinking that one day we will magically achieve everything we want to. There’s almost an October mentality of ‘well the festive season is coming, there will be parties and food galore, no point in starting a diet now.’ The problem I see with this way of thinking, a way of thinking that was my standard for years, is that it’s basically making excuses for why we can’t ‘fix the problem’ sooner. If one excuse can be made so easily, another will once that excuse expires and another, until it’s October again and excuses can be recycled.
Goals are entirely different. Goals can be made for the short term, or the long term, any period of time. They don’t start with ‘this year I am going to…’ Goals aren’t born from ‘I want to be better than I was.’ Goals are a way of setting ourselves a target, a way of achieving it and with an achievable or loosely set time frame. Instead of saying, ‘I’m going to lose weight and exercise more this year,’ which is a resolution with no thought or planning, a goal is an aim to achieve. ‘I am going to exercise three times a week in January,’ or, ‘I’m only going to buy lunch once a week for the next five weeks.’ Already there is a difference, the goal has extracted what the person wants to achieve, and offered a solution on how to achieve it and most of all, it is realistic. Sure, it doesn’t mean that it won’t fail, but it sure is better than jumping into something blind, realising you have no idea how to follow through and ultimately failing. The best part is, if the goal is achieved, its a lot easier to continue on with it too.
I didn’t achieve all my goals last year. As I mentioned above, it was the first time I’d set goals so unsurprisingly I bit off more than I could chew. I haven’t set my goals for this year yet, but I can already tell you that I am not going to have 10 year long ones again, that was unrealistic. I’m going focus more on the short term than the entire year. I haven’t decided if I’m going to have a couple a month, or make them longer term than that too, maybe even set them without a ‘strict’ time frame, but what I do know, is that I like having targets to reach and I especially like reaching them. Having goals is a great source of motivation for me, especially because when I set them I always include a plan with them.
I have learned for myself that having too many goals, too many deadlines or even having them too vague is setting myself up for failure. This usually makes me feel bad, so I’m not going down that road again. I’m not looking to be a better person this year. That suggests that I’m a bad person, which I’m not. I’m just looking to make some things happen in my life that I want and to feel good about them. I will be making SMART goals. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely, although I may be a bit loose on the timely to ensure achieveability.
Smiles and Sunshine