Starting the New Year SMART
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
It’s that time of year again. Time to reflect on the good and not-so-good moments we lived and experienced over the last year. Fortunately, no matter our circumstance, there is always something to be grateful for and an attitude of gratitude is strongly associated with greater happiness, according to researchers. Feeling grateful keeps the focus on the good things in life and perpetuates a positive mindset.
As we take a moment to reflect, we also acknowledge that the new-year is upon us. Once more we can start fresh and begin again, experience a sort of rebirth, you might say.
For goal-oriented individuals, goal setting or creating a vision board can be a fun and motivational start to the new year. It is a way of manifesting your heart’s desire. Setting precise, clearly defined goals with specific targets and milestones provides focus, something more than a general purpose in life. Like any art form, goal setting takes some practice but really, there is no right or wrong way.
If you’re a person that likes to write or journal, SMART goals are something to keep in mind as you work through the process. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Timely. They provide structure and trackability.
Specific – Define your goal in detail, be clear and concise. What, Where, When, Why, Who, Which?
Measurable – You want to be able to track and measure your progress. How will you know when you’ve accomplished your goal?
Achievable – Is your goal reasonable? Is it too easy or is it out of reach? How will you attain your goal?
Relevant – Is your goal worth your time and effort? Does it meet your needs? Why do you want to reach this goal?
Timely – Your goal should be time-bound. Setting a time limit (month/day/year) for each step creates tension or a healthy sense of urgency.
If you’re a visual person and you enjoy being creative and using your imagination, a vision board might be the perfect tool for you. Similar to written goals, a vision board is crafted with very clear and specific goals in mind. Pictures or magazine cut-outs, words, phrases or meaningful quotes, fabric, anything tangible that can be pinned or stuck to a cork board or poster board can be used. You can even create a digital vision board with a graphic-design tool like Canva. Remember, vision boards are a visual tool so you want to put it in a place where you see it often.
It’s important to have an emotional connection to our goals for added motivation and determination, hence the concept and importance of defining your ‘why.’ Defining why is another way of thinking about the relevance of your goals and what they mean to you on a deep and visceral level. If we start to waver, connecting to our why can provide the emotional connection needed to stay on track especially when things get tough.
However, desires change and mistakes happen, it’s all a part of the process. There may come a time to re-evaluate, redefine, regroup, or recommit. Don’t worry! No matter the outcome, we gain experience, which is often the most valuable part of the process.
Lastly, remember to acknowledge and celebrate seemingly small achievements that pave the way to large milestones. Here’s to a new year, a new decade and new beginnings!
Emmons, R. A., & McCullough, M. E. (2003). Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 84(2), 377-389.