• Lauren Gewirtz

New Year's resolutions: setting goals and reaching them

I have always been a goal setter, but as for goal reacher? It took a little more time to get there.

I loved the idea of making a plan of things I wanted to accomplish for a new year because, as for most people, it feels like a fresh start. What's better than a clean slate?

It was not until 2016, however, that I was able to stick to a New Year's resolution. Prior to 2016, my resolutions were very general, like, 'become the best version of myself' or 'focus on being healthier in all aspects.' While these resolutions weren't necessarily bad, they had no plan behind them. How do I become the best version of myself when I don't even know what that means?

So, in 2016 I made a plan for the latter of those two: I was going to work out 3-5 times a week. Were there weeks that I maybe only worked out twice? Sure. But I didn't beat myself up for forgetting or not having time to exercise. Instead, I said, 'ok, it didn't happen today, but it will tomorrow,' and I kept that promises to myself all of 2016.

Since then, I have worked out regularly which sometimes means twice a week and other times means six times a week. It totally depends what my schedule is like and how I am feeling, but it has become a part of my life instead of a chore, so it doesn't feel like a big deal. Plus, when I started on Jan. 1, 2016, I did something that I love to do -- dance. I bought these dumb hour long dance workout videos from the early 2000s and while they were extremely cheesy, I got up and wanted to work out because I was doing something fun that didn't feel like exercise to me.

Last year, I did a quote journal to be more mindful and everyday I would write a quote in a little notebook that described how I was feeling or something that happened that day. It made me take a few moments every night to reflect on my day, which helped me evaluate my mental health -- something that I needed to focus on and continue to.

This year, I did a journal of things I am thankful for and every night before I go to bed, I write down what I am thankful for based on the events of the day. I also wanted to make more connections both socially and for my education/career, which I did through a number of different ways, especially on my study abroad trip over the summer. Lastly, I set some travel/bucket list goals, like going back to certain places and doing things that I've always wanted to do. I went to a lot of places and did some of the things. The rest will be pushed to 2019.

Through finding ways to stick to my resolutions over the past three years, I wanted to share some tips that have helped me to end the year feeling accomplished:

1. If you are going to set general goals, define them and make a plan.

Goals that are more general are as good and can be as successful as something super specific, as long as you know what you mean from the start. For example, if your goal is something like, 'spend more time on self care,' then make a list of things that make you feel good. Maybe it is watching your favorite show or taking a bath or going for a walk, but have at least a few in mind that define what you mean. Then, look at your schedule and make time for at least one of those things during the day or week.

It doesn't have to be some 3-hour elaborate thing, but taking ten minutes to yourself at the end of the day to read or meditate or watch a funny video might be what you need to fulfill that general goal. The biggest thing is knowing what you are going to do to make it feel fulfilling for you.

2. If your goal is something revolving around fitness or health, make it fun.

A lot of people like to make health related goals going into the new year, which is a great thing to do, especially if you have friends or family that can help hold you accountable or do it with you. The hardest part, however, is the whole sticking with it thing.

To give yourself the best shot at staying with your health goal, you should make it somewhat enjoyable. If you hate running as cardio, then don't make running your go-to exercise. Instead, maybe try the elliptical or incline walking or an entire other form of cardio that doesn't involve a machine, like dance or aerobics. If you like lifting weights, then don't force cardio upon yourself until you get a good routine down. Starting with something you like will keep you sticking with it.

As for eating healthier, try to start small. I am someone who loves dessert, but I switched out ice cream sometimes for Yasso bars, which are greek yogurt that honestly taste *almost* as good as an ice cream bar. Do I still eat ice cream sometimes? Of course.

Health is not about giving up all of the good things in life like pizza and ice cream and Netflix and naps. It's about finding the balance that works for you and your body and lifestyle. It looks a little different for everyone.

3. Take time and reflect throughout the year (and don't be afraid to restart if you feel like you need to.)

Whether it's once a week, once a month or a few times throughout the year, make sure you take the time to reflect and reevaluate your resolutions. Sometimes things need revisiting to keep you on track or maybe you decide you want to change your goals a bit to better suit where you're at.

If you are a few months into the year and feel guilty about leaving your resolution in the dust, don't be afraid to restart or pick up where you left off. There is never a bad time to make good change to your life.

I am so glad to be writing here again. Expect more from me in 2019!

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