Saturday, January 19, 2013

New Year's Resolutions: Part 1

You may be wondering why I'm writing about New Year's resolutions on January 19, a couple weeks after the beginning of the new year.  

Normally, I put a lot of time into writing out my resolutions.  I write and re-write about 10 resolutions in hopes of succeeding in just one (I know, I know, this probably isn't the best way to do it).  Resolutions have worked for me in the past-- it's how I finally forced myself to stop being a chronic nail biter (only because I couldn't succeed in my other resolutions that year).  I get excited and feel renewed with the new year.  Something about a fresh beginning invigorates me.  This year, however, I never took the time to write out my 2013 New Year's resolutions and figured oh well, it's over.

The other day during a GABE (Graduate Association of Bioengineers) happy hour, I entered into a conversation with a few of my labmates/colleagues/friends, discussing good health habits. 
"That's what I should have done!  I should have made eating more protein and drinking more water my resolutions for this year," I said.
"You know, you can still make it a resolution.  You don't have to make resolutions only on New Year's," responded my friend/labmate.   
Huh, well who woulda thought?  Cori was right; I can and should make goals any time I want and need.

So now I sit here, a couple weeks after the beginning of the new year, brainstorming my non-New Year's resolutions.  

Here is the health category of my non-New Year's resolutions:

I formed these three resolutions trying to follow the "SMART Goals" principles:

Specific: Goals must be specific in their wording.  Wrong: "I will be healthier."  What does that even mean?  Vagueness is not allowed in SMART goals. 
Example: Instead of saying that I would eat "healthier," I specifically wrote that I would eat more protein, a nutrition category that I know I am lacking in.

Measurable: How can you tell if you succeeded in your goal?  A SMART goal has a measurable outcome.  Wrong: "I will watch less TV."  How much is less?  Put a number to it!
Example: Instead of saying I would drink "more," I wrote that I would drink 2 water bottles of water a day.  If I only drink 1, I know I didn't meet my goal for the day. 

Attainable: Telling yourself you are going to lose 50 pounds (naturally) in a month is not attainable.  Design a goal that can be accomplished.  Do not set yourself up for failure.
Example: Instead of saying I was going to go to the gym every single day (we know life sometimes gets in the way, and we cannot achieve that goal), I wrote that I would exercise 4 times a week, providing me flexibility in choosing the days.  Additionally, I am committing to at least 15 minutes of exercise.  Knowing myself, once I get going, I will go for much longer than 15 minutes; it's the "getting going" that is the tough part.  15 minutes is an attainable number that will not scare me off from working out at all that day if I don't feel like I can fit in 1 hour; anyone can fit in just 15 minutes.  

Realistic: The word "relevant" can be substituted here as well.  Sure, you could set a specific, measurable, attainable goal, but does it matter?  Will you realistically commit yourself to this goal?  Why are you creating this goal?
Example: Since you are viewing my health-related resolutions, the answer is self-evident.  I want to live a healthier lifestyle, and these are a few modifications I can make to build on that.

Timely: What is your target date to measure success?  How far should you have come 1 week from now, 1 month from now, 6 months from now, 1 year from now?  If you don't give yourself a time point, you'll keep pushing back your goal.  Set your mind to accomplish something now. 
Example: Alright, my goals are lacking on this one; however, I've written previous posts about ways to measure my success in the gym, with time points attached.

Stayed tuned for Part 2 of the conversation I had with my friends/colleagues!

What were your New Year's resolutions?  If you didn't make any, what are your non-New Year's resolutions?

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