SMART Goals

SMART Goals

Knowing what goals you want to set for the next year is not the last step and not all goals are created equal. I recommend that you try the SMART Goals acronym formula in the infographic above. Using this format you would change the goal ‘I want to lose weight.’ to ‘By the end of 2015, I weigh # pounds, eat a salad every day, and habitually complete eight Minute Movements each work day.’ This format goes beyond simply wishing that something would happen to setting you up with a clear plan for making it happen.

 

Happy planning and Happy New Year!

Image credit: http://teacherweb.com

 

Imagine the Possibilities

Imagine the Possibilities

Yesterday I invited you to spend some quiet time reflecting on your habits (the things that you do consistently on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis) and where they are leading you. Today I’d like to take it a step further and work on a little goal setting.

Now, you can just randomly set goals if you really want to. And maybe there’s a goal that’s absolutely obvious to you (‘stop smoking’ for instance) but if you want to go deeper I have a few suggestions to direct your focus when setting goals. Writing prompts like these help activate and organize my thoughts a little better and I hope you find them (in conjunction with the list of habits that you made yesterday) useful as well.

 

The most simple list of categories is.

Mind, Body, Spirit. 

This is absolutely enough and could be the best option because limiting your goals to a small number could be the best way to insure that you’ll reach them!

 

Another option is this list, which I found a couple of years ago. I like that these questions are more specific and that they help me think beyond my normal territory.

A skill I’d like to learn ____________.

A person I hope to be more like ____________.

A good deed I’m going to do ____________.

A place I’d like to visit ____________.

A book I’d like to read  ____________.

A letter I’m going to write  ____________.

A new food I’m going to try  ____________.

I’m going to be better at ____________.

 

 

My third list is a little more extensive but it touches on all of the important areas of our lives. Last year I used this list and, while I did make progress in each area, I didn’t necessarily hit my goals. This year I think I’ll prioritize this list and choose just a few areas to focus on at first.

Family – Is your relationship with your family everything that you want it to be? Are you spending quality time with them, do they KNOW that you love them, do YOU know how you can help them succeed? Do whatever it takes to draw closer to them – even if you have to schedule time in your calendar (and lock away all mobile devices!).

Social – Time with friends (in real life) can have such a huge impact on life satisfaction and even your health. Besides prioritizing time nurturing your established friendships consider ways that you can make new friends as well – you might find a new ‘bestie’ when you finally join that new dance class!

Financial – Do you need to increase your income or curtail your spending? Maybe you have a huge amount of debt hanging over your head that’s stressing you out. There are so many programs to help you get control of your finances (many of them are free). No price can be put on the peace of mind that comes from being on top of your finances!

Career – Do you love your job? Do you feel confident in your ability to move ahead? Was there something in your last performance evaluation that you need to address? Maybe you want to go an entirely different direction. Whatever it is, take steps toward improvement – you spend the majority of your life at your job and it should be as rewarding as possible.

Spiritual – This might be the most important area of your life whether you actively practice a religion or not but it’s also often the easiest area of life to ignore. Nurturing your spirit can help you get everything else in perspective and keep you grounded.

Physical – I imagine that this is the most popular area for resolutions or goal setting each January. Do whatever you need to do to make your body stronger and more healthy this year. If it’s been awhile and you can’t find time for exercise, start doing your Minute Movements right away.

Intellectual – Is there a new series or genre of books that you’d like to explore? Maybe you’ve always wanted to learn another language or how to build birdhouses. Learning new things makes us more interesting – to ourselves and to other people. Try something new this year!

 

Pick a list and do a little brainstorming today, think big and believe in yourself. Tomorrow I’ll have a few tips to share on how to set great goals that you can achieve but today just focus on your dreams.

Assessing your Habits

Assessing your Habits

Here we are again, at the end of December, facing another year like a blank canvas, full of possibilities and promise. I imagine that almost everyone spends at least a few moments at the close of the year contemplating their accomplishments and their dreams.

Personally I’m not a fan of ‘New Year Resolutions’ (many studies suggest that most people give up on their resolutions by February) I prefer to take stock of my life and set goals for the new year instead. In all honesty, I don’t always hit every one of those goals, but I write them down and look at them almost every day so I always make some headway toward improving myself each year.  If I live to be three thousand years old I might just make it to perfection.

Right now I’m reading a book by bestselling author Matthew Kelly that just so happens to discuss habits and this is what I read last night –

What are your habits? What are the things that you do every day, every week, every month? If you can tell me what your habits are, I can tell you what sort of person you are.

Kelly goes on to explain that good habits will result in a ‘good’ future and bad habits will cause problems in the future. He reminds us that we can change our habits (which is such a blessing – and such a weight to carry) and he encourages us to take an honest look at our habits (the things we actually do every day) and where those habits are leading us.

Today is a great day to take stock of your habits. Knowing where you are now is the best first step to determining what to do next (whether you prefer resolutions or goal setting).

So today I’m issuing a challenge. Take some time to sit in a quiet place with a piece of paper and write down YOUR habits; the things you do every day, every week, every month. Then look over that list and ask yourself questions like…

‘Where will this habit take me – is that where I want to go?’

‘Will these habits help me to be the best ME possible or are they self destructive?’

 

You don’t have to do anything else with that list today (but save it, I might have something for you to do with it later). Just focus on giving yourself the gift of honest self reflection.

 

And if you took a break from your movements – pick that habit back up today!  🙂

Make your minutes matter!

Seven Ways to Make the Holidays Less Stressful

Do you find that you’re beginning to get stressed and frantic as the holidays draw closer? This time of year can be such a burden for those of us who were already struggling to create balance in our lives. So today I’m sharing my list of ways for you to  relax and enjoy the holidays.


#7 – Be prepared

“Organizing ahead of time makes the work more enjoyable.” ~ Anne Burrell

Lack of organization can cause a huge amount of stress at any time of the year but a little preparation and a few lists can go a long way toward alleviating your stress. Marla Cilley (aka Fly Lady) has fabulous tips for getting organized in general at  www.flylady.net and her Holiday control journal is a huge help at this time of year. Rather than re-creating our Christmas card and gift lists each year, I’ve created documents that I use perpetually or as templates that I just have to fill in. I also have a section in our personal cookbook just for our favorite holiday recipes (since I could never seem to remember where they were at the last minute).  Lastly, create reminders in your calendar for the things that need to be done far in advance like booking a photographer for your holiday cards or making travel plans.

*I know some of these ideas would have been really helpful about two months ago, but you can always use them for next year!

 

#6 – Give yourself permission to say no

“Half of the troubles of this life can be traced to saying yes too quickly and not saying no soon enough.” ~Josh Billings

This can be so difficult, even for me (and I pride myself in being able to say no). Spending time with your loved ones and creating a magical atmosphere is important but so is your health and sanity. You don’t have to attend every party or help with every charitable opportunity that comes your way. Clear (and loving) boundaries can be crucial to an enjoyable holiday, especially if you have children or your family lives out of town. Consider switching off events every other year or do one holiday with your family and another with your spouse’s family. When our children were babies we decided that having traditions with our little family was vital and that we would not travel if it meant being away from our home on Christmas morning – a decision that I have never regretted.

#5 – Let people help you 

You don’t have to do all of the jobs, it’s okay to let someone else experience the joy of serving others too.

You absolutely do not have to do everything yourself so look at your resources and consider opportunities to outsource things in order to enjoy the holidays. If you’re hosting a party. consider hiring a caterer or ordering some items from your neighborhood grocery store (I could buy an entire dinner from my favorite store if I were so inclined), and when your guests ask what they can bring – TELL them (they want to contribute). Consider hiring a neighborhood teen to help with chores and odd jobs or to spend time with your little blessings so you can get some shopping done. Or maybe you could bring in a professional to clean your house or finish that house project that’s still incomplete so you can be fresh for your holiday get togethers.

#4 – Less materialism

“Maybe Christmas, the Grinch thought, doesn’t come from a store.” ~ Dr Seuss  

Regardless of the holiday that you celebrate, it’s likely that it’s about more than spending money but so many of us find ourselves engaging in out of control consumerism year after year. When my kids were little I would just buy any and everything that caught my eye that I thought they might enjoy. I didn’t feel done with Christmas shopping until I fell into bed exhausted on Christmas Eve (literally). We ended up with so much STUFF in our house and very little meaning in our Christmas morning. Then I ran across a wonderful way to make our gift giving more meaningful while providing me  with parameters. Everyone in our home receives ‘three’ gifts (Gold is something valuable or that celebrates a special trait of the recipient, Frankincense is a gift related to spirituality, and Myrrh is a gift for our body); of course Santa still comes and the stockings get filled with fun trinkets but I begin the season with a plan and I know when I have finished shopping – which is an amazing feeling! It’s also important to let your purchases reflect your values, if you’re opposed to violence you might want to re-think that gaming system and if clutter is an issue, you could spend money on things that create memories instead (like season passes to the zoo). While we’re on the subject, you don’t have to have something to wrap for everyone that you know. My dad, for instance, has everything that he could possibly want. I could buy him some trinket just because I feel like I should, but it’s unlikely that anything I bought would be very meaningful. So I prefer consumable or ‘togetherness’ gifts for him (think tickets to see a comedian together versus another tacky tie). An upside to less materialism is that you’re more likely to stick to your budget and less likely to have regrets once the January credit card statements start to come in!

#3 – Slow down

“Slow down and everything you are chasing will come around and catch you.” ~ John DePaola

I’d be willing to bet that you will regret spending the entire month of December running around in a tizzy and missing all of the important things. So slow down and experience the wonder of the season. Take breaks and enjoy the scenery when you’re out shopping. Schedule a few hours with your spouse or close friends to just enjoy each other’s company. Turn off the TV and read a book to your children or have a family game night. Sit down for a phone call with a loved one who lives far away. Sit in a circle and take turns opening one gift at a time on Christmas morning instead of having a free for all. Spend time in prayer and meditation. Attend a service at your church. Savor the moments and let the experiences replenish your soul.

#2- Let go of perfection 

“The pursuit of excellence is gratifying and healthy. The pursuit of perfection is frustrating, neurotic, and a terrible waste of time.”  ~ Edwin Bliss

We all know that perfection is an impossibility, yet so many of us still strive for it – especially during the holidays.  What if, instead of perfection you focused on having fun and making memories with the people you love? It’s unlikely that your family even notices some of the more subtle touches in your holiday preparations. I had an epiphany along those lines while putting out decorations this year; I always put a string of silver icicles along the shower and window curtains in our guest bathroom but they were so twisted and tangled this year that I was getting frustrated so I PUT THEM BACK IN THE BOX and played a game with my kids! It was so liberating to decide that I could let this one thing go and I don’t even miss it.

#1 – Take care of yourself

“Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take between two deep breaths.” ~Etty Hillesum

This is often the most obvious and the most easily overlooked. They say that you can’t take care of others properly if you aren’t taking care of yourself and this time of year in particular it’s too easy to put our own needs on the back burner.  Schedule time for yourself (a bubble bath or manicure can remarkably affect your energy), eat properly, do your minute movement exercises, and get plenty of sleep (bedtime isn’t just for the kiddos).

 

Time To Be

Time To Be

Yesterday I shared a bit about my personal struggle with the holiday season – the joy AND the stress. Today I’d like to share a fabulous post at Hands Free Mama called No Moving Target December in which Rachel eloquently explores how busyness can make us a moving target – and not in a ‘Man of Steel’ kind of way.  Instead of making us superhuman, failing to take the time to BE with the people we love makes it difficult for them to be loving with us! We’re all on the same page, there is so much to do this time of year – but as trite as it may sound, the most valuable present is your presence.

Today I invite you to take a minute to stop doing and just BE.

 

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