EDITOR'S NOTE: This is a guest opinion piece.
"A goal without a plan is just a wish.” — Antoine de Saint-Exupery
The New Year brings about a sense of “newness” in our lives. As the clock turns, we too like to find ways to “turn over a new leaf.” Whether it is letting go of old habits, picking up new exciting hobbies, or making new goals for the future, there is certainly a boost of energy that accompanies this exciting new time in our lives!
“Research shows that as many as 50% of adults in the United States make New Year’s resolutions, but fewer than 10% keep them for more than a few months. Giving up on New Year’s resolutions is often related to three issues: difficulty breaking old habits, focusing on specific outcomes, and problems with purpose.” — Dr. Charles Herrick - board certified psychiatrist, and the chair of psychiatry at Nuvance Health’s Danbury Hospital, New Milford Hospital, and Norwalk Hospital.
As you are making plans for success in 2021 and setting new goals, remember to Pace yourself, be Realistic with your goals, and Celebrate small wins along the way! Keeping these three things in mind will help keep you motivated and reduce the chance of becoming too self-critical.
I encourage you to look at your goals differently this year and set SMART goals.
Tips for Making SMART Goals
1. Specific: Be specific and clear with your goals. Ask yourself: “what do I want to accomplish and how can I make it happen?”
2. Measurable: How will you track your progress? What data will you use to measure your goal? Think: How much? How long? How well?
3. Attainable: Is your goal realistic? Can it be achieved? Ask yourself: “Do I have the skills necessary to accomplish this goal?”
4. Relevant: Does this goal align with your values and purpose? Why is this goal important? Be sure to set goals that really matter.
5. Time-bound: What is the time frame necessary to accomplish this goal? Be sure to give yourself enough time to achieve your goal, but not so much time that you lose focus on the goal.
Keep in mind:
• Your goals should be meaningful to you. Resist the urge to be pressured into someone else’s goals and wishes for your future. When you work towards something you really want to do, the likelihood of remaining committed to accomplishing the goal is strengthened.
• Seek encouragement from your peers. It is great to have an, “accountability partner,” when working toward your goals. Identify an emotionally safe person to share your goals with. This is someone who is non-judgmental, but can provide you with motivation to keep going.
• Know when to ask for help. If you find that you need help, speak to a trusted friend, a counselor or a minister. Call your doctor or mental health provider. Call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255 or Text CONNECT to 741741.
View Point Health has many resources in your local community that will service your mental health needs, including: outpatient family, group and individual counseling support; child and adolescent services; school-based services; veterans’ services, employment and substance abuse services, among others.
For more information, please visit https://myviewpointhealth.org/.
Chanel Toson is program manager of Strive Clubhouse in Covington.