Dear <<First Name>>;
I wanted to be able to say that I sat on the beach in the warm Caribbean sun on Christmas day, but my car battery had a different idea! Fortunately it did not take long to fix, and as I sat on the beach New Year’s eve (it did rain a bit, just so you don’t feel too envious), I reflected on all the changes of the past year as well as on what I am working toward in 2011.
I’ve just started working with my first two clients, which means setting goals for their six month program. How appropriate that we are beginning at the start of a new year, a time when many of us reflect on where we have come in the last year and where we would like to go. Of course, we all know the poor track record of most New Year’s Resolutions; in this month’s article below, I discuss ideas for making sure your goals for the year do not suffer the same sad fate.
Forget Your New Year's Resolutions: Set Goals Instead!
by Julie Stiles
I used to make New Year’s Resolutions, then gave them up a few years ago. I decided that if I wasn’t going to keep them anyway (or only kept them through January), then what was the point? Of course, this approach does not work very well either; it may have protected me from the disappointment of realizing that I had yet again forgotten my resolutions, but it still did not move me towards where I wanted to go.
One of the reasons New Year’s Resolutions often end up forgotten or left aside may be that they are based on what we don’t want instead of what we do want. If it has been your pattern to think in terms of losing weight or stopping a bad habit, try something different this year. Think instead in terms of what you want to create in 2011. Try a shift from vague or generalized resolutions into specific, concrete goals and a plan to reach them.
The following series of questions will help you get set up to succeed in reaching your 2011 goals. Of course, these questions can apply to goals in any area of your life—career, relationships, finances, spirituality, creativity, and so on—but I will focus on health and wellness.
What are your goals for the year?
The first step, obviously, is to set your goals. Set goals that are:
Why do you want these goals?
Specific: Don’t say you will lose weight, say you weigh X amount on a set date. You will want a definite way to know when you reach your goal. If your goal is more general, like that you want to feel better overall, make it more specific so you have some criteria to evaluate. What would it mean to feel better? That you have a consistent level of energy through the day? That you wake up feeling energized and ready to go? That you can do your normal activities with ease?
Positive: Say what you want, not what you don’t want. Instead of “I want to get rid of my sugar cravings” perhaps you want a healthy relationship to food, eating what your body needs when it needs it.
Ambitious but realistic: Push yourself, but don’t make them impossible. Also, be ready to adjust your goals as you begin to take action and learn more; for example, if you find that your initial goal was too ambitious, set a longer time frame.
State them as if they’ve already happened: “I weigh X pounds.”
One of the reasons many of us stop working for our goals is because we turn them into chores, into things we “have to” do, which we then resist doing. Instead, consider what reaching your goals will fulfill for you. Allow that to pull you toward reaching them instead of feeling like you have to push yourself. If you want to go to bed earlier so you get more sleep, you are not likely to keep it up for long if you are only focused on what you are giving up. Look for what getting more sleep will do for you—perhaps give you more energy, a clearer and sharper mind, and allow you to be at your best each day. Post what reaching your goal will fulfill for you somewhere where you will see it every day to remind you.
What will you need to let go of to achieve your goals?
Striving for goals is a process of change, and change requires letting go. When we lack awareness of what we will need to let go of in reaching for our goals, we may unconsciously undermine our progress toward them. Though we might need to let go of something concrete (such as our favorite late-night ice cream snack), it is most often aspects of our identity
that we are unwilling to let go of that stand in our way. The familiarity of our identity, even if it is uncomfortable, makes us hold on, especially when we are unsure what will replace it. See if you can get a sense of what aspects of who you are
will have to change for you to reach your goals.
What structures do you have in place to keep you going?
I’ve had problems with setting goals and then forgetting all about them because I did not build them into my life. We each need to find what works best for us, but at the basis is creating the plan, with specific action steps, to reach your goals. Once you create your plan and action steps, put those steps into your calendar or task management system so they stay front and center. Also consider letting someone know about your goals, so they can help keep you accountable. You might even find someone close to you has a similar goal and the two of you can find ways to work together, supporting each other more directly.
How can you slightly adjust what you are already doing to meet your goals with more ease?
Having new goals does not necessarily mean you have to make drastic changes. If you want to eat healthier, you might be able to change some of the recipes you already make to incorporate healthier ingredients (see below). If you would like more strength, you can spice up the time you already set aside for exercise to vary your routine and get a different type of exercise. See if there are ways to adjust what you already do to make reaching your goals easier.
I encourage you, if you haven’t already, to schedule in some time this week to clarify your goals and create the structures necessary to carry you forward. Let’s make 2011 a year of fulfillment!
How can you take a traditional banana bread recipe, made with white flour and sugar, and turn it into something a little healthier? I adapted a gluten-free almond bread recipe from Trader Joe's that I found too dry and unappealing into this delicious moist alternative.
Banana Almond Bread
4 1/2 cups almond meal
5 small eggs
2 Tbsp agave nectar (or maple syrup, or molasses)
1 tsp apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup (approximately) fruit juice or combination fruit/vegetable juice
1 tsp sea salt
1 tsp baking soda
(Optional for less healthy version: no-gluten semi-sweet chocolate chips)
1.) Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.
2.) In a large bowl, combine all the dry ingredients.
3.) In a medium bowl, beat the eggs and add the remaining wet ingredients.
4.) Add the wet ingredients to the dry and mix thoroughly.
5.) Transfer the mixture to a 5x9-inch standard loaf pan, lightly oiled with coconut oil
6.) Bake for 60+ minutes or until a skewer/knife inserted in the bread comes out clean.
7.) Cool and slice. Delicious toasted in a toaster oven and spread with coconut oil or butter.