Tag: goals


The Best Laid Plans…

 Happy New Year’s!
How are you celebrating the start of 2019? By sleeping off the fun you had on New Year’s Eve? Or did you get up early to greet the start of a new year filled with possibility and opportunity?
I slept in. I spent the last week of the old year traveling so I ended 2018 exhausted and cranky from sleep deprivation. I decided I owed it to myself to start 2019 well-rested and refreshed.
So, getting more sleep must be one of my New Year’s resolutions, right? Nope. I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I used to but, as happens to so many others, by the third week of January—or, with luck, maybe the first week of February—I’d given up on most of them. I tried re-conceptualizing my resolutions as goals but that didn’t work, either. Goal or resolution, it went by the wayside before Spring.
I’m not at the point where I’ve decided to wing it and see what happens for the next 365 days. I need more structure in my life than that. I’ve decided this year to make plans. Plans don’t seem as lofty and daunting as goals and resolutions. We make plans every day—dinners, work projects, trips, outfits. Plans feel familiar, doable. What’s the difference between my everyday plans and my “big”-ish plans for the new year? I will plan for 2019 with conscious thought. (Does that sound too Gwenyth Paltrow-y?) I will make plans using a technique I learned at work, the SMART planning model. SMART is an acronym: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic/Relevant, Timely. Here’s how it works:
Instead of planning to “exercise more,” I plan to attend barre on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings and Pilates on Saturday mornings. This plan is specific—barre and Pilates classes on certain days of the week, measurable—I either went to class or I didn’t, yes/no, a binary response, achievable—both barre and Pilates classes are available within 5 miles of both home and work and the MindBody app makes it ridiculously simple to sign-up for class, realistic—let’s be honest, attending class for one hour, 4 days a week won’t significantly disrupt my life, and timely—at the end of each month I can look at the calendar and determine whether or not my plan worked.
SMART planning is useful for more than just exercise regimes. I’m also going to create SMART plans for writing, reading, and spending. But, because SMART planning requires deliberation, I’ve given myself permission to take more than a day to create them. I figure if I’ve mapped them out by the end of January, I’ll still have most of the new year to put them into action.
What about you? Are you a New Year’s resolver, goal-setter, planner, or free spirit? What are some of your resolutions/goals/plans for 2019? 

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Winter Solstice Introspection.

  Today is the shortest day of the year in the northern hemisphere. Reykjavík gets four hours and sevenminutes of sunlight; Fairbanks only three hours and forty-one.  I don’t know much about the celebrations that mark the day: Alban Arthan in Wales, Brumalia in Ancient Rome, Dongzhi Festival in parts of Asia, Korochun in some Slavic countries and Sanghamitta Day for Theravada Buddhists. The point I take away is that since the neopagans observed Yule, human beings have celebrated when our days go from getting darker to getting lighter. Maybe it’s my Scandinavian genes, but I like this time of year because it lends itself to introspection. When it’s cold and dark outside, I like to be inside–both physically and emotionally. It’s a good time to take stock: think about those parts of my life that are serving me and also look at those habits and behaviors that could use a little tweaking (or, maybe, habits that I want to chuck altogether). When it’s warm and sunny, it’s much easier to shrug off making changes that would make me more mindful, kinder, and healthier. Somehow, with chill in my bones and my hands wrapped around a warm cup of tea in front of the fire, I’m better able to observe my own life.  The promise that tomorrow will be just a little brighter than today–even if it is only one more minute of sunlight–helps in those efforts. I completely understand the people who don’t like the idea of setting personal goals. Me? I’m an unabashed self-improvement junky. So far, my efforts haven’t led me to enlightenment, but I do keep trying. If there are any of you who also belong to my tribe, I’m wishing you all the insight that comes with the darkness and all the hope that comes with the light. On the practical front, here’s a link from an NYT article on how to make meaningful change with the greatest chance for success: https://www.nytimes.com/guides/smarterliving/resolution-ideas.  Writing goals? Personal goals? Health goals? If you are so moved, please share your thoughts here or on our Facebook page…along with any tricks you’ve picked up along the way. 

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