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Goal setting for the new year

Added 13 Dec 2019

Many people find the New Year as a time for reflection and use the occasion to begin some new changes in their lives. We often hear of people wanting to lose weight, quit smoking, or learn a new skill and use the changing year as a turning point for themselves. New Year’s resolutions, or goals in general, help keep us motivated, focused and excited about the future and life. Research on the topic has shown that approximately 60% of people make New Year’s resolutions, however only about 8% of people successfully achieve them. This may be because New Year’s resolutions are often created with purely a long term vision in mind, and many people don’t consider what small, short term goals are required to achieve the end result. 
For a goal to be considered achievable, it should challenge you to be a better version of yourself, but it should    not negatively impact you mentally or physically every time you try to take a step forward. An effective goal setting technique that is widely used is creating SMART goals. This is a way to break down a goal and ensure it is as effective as possible, with every letter of the word representing a different aspect of goal setting. 
Specific: Goals that are detailed and specific have a higher chance of being achieved. To improve the specificity of a goal, consider asking the five “W” questions: who, what, when, where, and why.
Measurable: A SMART goal needs to have a way of measuring your progress, a certain criteria that you work your way through to the end. Consider what sort of indicator of progress you would require, and what your end goal looks like. 
Achievable: This point may seem redundant, however many people commit to a goal that may be unattainable for them and due to this, give up at the slightest hint of failure. Ask yourself if you have the resources available to you to achieve the goal, if not, what are you missing and what steps do you need to take to obtain these resources? Perhaps you can use others who have achieved a similar goal in the past, and find out what techniques and resources they used.
Realistic: A goal needs to be realistic to be considered achievable with your available resources and time. You must also believe in yourself that the goal can be achieved and that you are able to commit to it for that given time period.   
Time-Oriented: An attainable goal must have a start and end date. An end time helps provide motivation and a sense of urgency to complete the goal, similar to having a school or work assignment due by a certain time. 
An example for a SMART goal for someone who’s looking to lose weight in the New Year could be the following:
“I will join my local community gym and workout three times per week. Each month I will aim to lose two kilograms of body fat. I will weigh myself at the end of each week and keep a log of my weight loss. By the end of June, I will aim to lose 12 or more kilograms” 
This goal, by meeting each criteria of a SMART goal, shows a strong sense of direction to attain the end result, and helps the individual keep organised and motivated to work hard. 
Write your goals down and keep them in a place where you can see them every day as a visual reminder of your intentions and to keep you motivated. Additionally, keep track of your progress and reward yourself for reaching mini milestones on the way to the larger goals. 
The path to achieving a goal is not straightforward and without obstacles, so remember to try not to be discouraged by any backwards progress you may make while on your way to achieving your goal. You may encounter ups and downs, but every step is a step closer to accomplishing your goal. It’s important to be patient whilst on your way to achieving your goal, most goals take time and cannot be accomplished overnight. Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Sharing your goals and aspirations with friends or family can help keep you motivated during the good times. Should you start to slip up in your routine, they can also help keep you accountable and get you back on track. 
By Brianna—Office/Telephone and Facebook Support Volunteer

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