Notice that the title says ‘New Year’s Goals’, not ‘New Year’s Resolutions’. I find resolutions, especially New Year’s ones, to almost be made to be broken. High standards, very black and white, and often not at all realistic. Most seem to be given up before the end of January.
New Year’s goals on the other hand has a completely different tone. Serious, planned, structured, and achievable. Well set goals are actually possible to achieve!
This year my resolution would be to treat myself with more understanding, compassion, and respect. It sounds great, right? A good thing to aim for. How do I do it though? It sounds vague and fluffy when I think about it. How will I know if I achieve it?
That’s where SMART goals come in. They help you to make those vague intentions, aims, and plans more concrete and attainable.
How do I make treating myself with more understanding, compassion, and respect specific? What does it looks like?
Treating myself the way I’d treat a friend or family member that I care about – with understanding, compassion, and respect.
How will I know if I’m doing it? What will change when I’ve achieved these goals? What will (or won’t) I be doing when I’ve achieved it?
Eating healthy, balanced meals. No self-harming behaviours (including eating disorder behaviours, as well as obvious self-harm). No putting myself down, self-sabotaging, or destructive behaviours. Asking for what I need from others (as long as that need is reasonable to ask of someone). Resting when I need to rest, and not pushing my body to do more than it can. Asking myself how I’d treat a friend in the same situation, and treating myself that way.
Is it going to be possible to achieve this goal? Is the goal just too big for it to be possible to achieve? There’s no point setting yourself up for failure! It’s often easier to have many tiny, achievable goals than one overwhelming one.
I do think this is achievable. I already do it a lot of the time, I just want to increase the amount of time I do it for. Making it more specific and focussed makes it clearer in my head of what I need to do.
Realistic (and resourced)
Is this goal possible to achieve with the resources and support I have? Is it so overly ambitious that there’s no way it’s going to happen? How can I access resources and support that I need? What problems might I encounter? How can I minimise problems I encounter?
It’s definitely a realistic goal. I have friends and my psychiatrist to help remind me to stay on track with this one. The only problems I see at this point are another episode of depression or an eating disorder relapse, or some other mental health chaos. When I feel especially overwhelmed I tend to dive for old behaviours in order to cope, but those are destructive. So part of achieving this goal might be working on new ways of coping, or getting more support before crisis hits.
Be reasonable in setting a time frame for your goal. Life keeps happening around you, so sometimes goal timeframes will need to be adjusted. It doesn’t mean giving up, just tweaking the plan.
For me this is a year long goal, and one without an end. Perhaps not the ideal example to use with goal setting, but it’s something I want to to continue to work on all my life. There is no end. There is no failure. If I slip up it’s an experience to be learnt from.
This is a simple worksheet from the GetSelfHelp website that I used to plan and write my goal. It’s a useful worksheet with all the information on smart goals, and space to write your own. My example isn’t perfect, isn’t even ideal for goal setting, but it is my goal for 2017. It’s easier to practice goal setting with much simpler examples (eg. go shopping to buy a new dress).