By Debra LeClair Psy.D
While visiting family, I was served some tea in a cup that had the 1997 annual goals of a major company etched down the sides. In reading the list, I wondered how many of them were achieved. I also wondered if there were too many. While its illuminating to get a sense of all the areas that could be evolved, sustainable change is better made with a few specific and meaningful goals. With 1 or 2 aspirations, the brain can more fully organize its neurons around how to walk the path to true attainment. With that kind of focus, your psyche is less likely to get overwhelmed and give up.
To get to your most important goal or two, think about what it is that you specifically value that needs to be better expressed in action. Health and well-being? Professional mastery? Respectful communication? Next, in relation to that value, define how you will know you have been successful in a way that hits home for you. Seeing the numbers of the scale go down might be great but maybe the most meaningful aspect of losing weight is that you feel confident in how you feel in your clothes. When standing in front of your closet transforms from a feeling of dread to one of joy, you know you’ve arrived.
Having a visceral vision puts the experience of attainment into your internal programming. Part of you has already gotten there, so part of you better knows how to bring the rest of you along. It also easier to stay connected to the behavior that is going to help you meet your objectives if it is explicit, both in what will shift and what to do to create that shift. In other words, are you going to just aim to be less stressed in 2016 or also initiate setting reminders to take breathing breaks 4 times a day? They both get at the same thing, but while the first may sound more inspiring on its own, the second reminds you of what exactly you need to do on a regular basis to experience that the ability to find calm has now become yours.
Whether you have already started working on your New Year’s resolution or are still contemplating, it helps to commit your goal to paper and look at it often. Write about how it feels and how it makes your life happier. Describe what is working in your journey and what would serve you better to change. Lastly, keep thanking yourself for the care and intelligence you are putting into your process.