Kicking Off the New Year

As December quickly comes to a close, we begin to turn our thoughts and attention to the new year and what it may bring. 40% of us will set New Year’s Resolutions to tackle during the coming year.

If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know how hard they can be to stick to. Ashira Prossack, a writer for Forbes Women, wrote,


“Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”

If so many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, why do so many of us fail to accomplish them? The answer is that most of us set vague ideas of what we want to change instead of specific, actionable goals.

How to Create Goals that Last

SMART is an acronym many people use to help them set up their goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
  • Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Let’s break them down even further.

Specific

A specific goal is one that you can imagine perfectly in your mind. You can start getting specific on your goal by asking yourself the five W’s:

Once you’ve narrowed it down with those five W questions, you can then ask yourself:

  • What does my goal look like?
  • What does accomplishing my goal taste like?
  • What does it smell like?
  • How does it feel to have accomplished my goal?

You want to be able to imagine all aspects of the goal and try to include the five senses. Make your goal as real as possible — even down to the tiny details. Allow yourself to mentally live in that desired future as if you have already achieved it.

Measurable

A goal is measurable when it can be quantified or given some type of number. You may ask yourself:

Having a goal that is measurable is very important because it allows you to track your progress and know if you need to make any adjustments or changes to your goal.

A couple of examples would include if you want to lose weight you would need to know exactly how much weight you would like to lose. If your goal is to make more money next year, what dollar amount more would you like to make? If you would like to better your relationship with a sibling, how many times a year, month, week, etc will you contact them, phone them, visit them?

If you can’t put a number to your goal, it is not measurable. You might have to get creative to identify measurable goals.

AchIEvable

An achievable goal is one that may take some stretching to accomplish but is still reasonable, realistic, and attainable. To see if a goal is achievable you may ask yourself:

  • What might prevent me from accomplishing this goal?
  • Is my goal something I have control over?
  • What additional resources do I need to accomplish this goal?
  • Do I need any outside help, additional training, etc to accomplish my goal?

Relevant

A relevant goal is one that has meaning to you. It is to ensure that you have the motivation and desire to really accomplish the goal. Consider these questions to see if your goals are relevant to you.

  • Why is this goal important to me?
  • Is it in line with my other goals?
  • Is this goal worthwhile?

Time-Bound

A time-bound goal is having a specific date(s) that you look toward to accomplish your goal. This helps you stay focused and lasered in on your goal. If you can break your goal down into even smaller timelines it will help you stay on track even more.

  • What is my end date for this goal?
  • What do I want to have accomplished six months from now?
  • What do I want to have accomplished three months from now?
  • What do I want to have accomplished this month?
  • What do I want to have accomplished this week?
  • What do I need to do today?

Additional tips

As humans, we take the path of least resistance. Make the follow-through action of your goal as easy as possible.

If you want to start playing the guitar for the new year, keep the guitar out in the open instead of in the closet. If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to play it.

If your goal is to hit the gym three times a week, know exactly which days and times you are going to go to the gym. Are you going to go right after work? If you were to try to go home, change, maybe watch some TV while you eat a snack and then try to get to the gym there is a greater chance of you not going. Try instead to take your gym clothes with you to work so you can head to the gym straight from work.

The less activation energy required for an action, the more likely you will be to follow through.

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Self-Care Activities for the Whole Family

Self-care isn’t just about being a little selfish. It’s about making time for yourself so you can feel recharged and rejuvenated. When you imagine self-care activities, what do you think of? Probably a bubble bath or a relaxing massage in a room full of candles. But you might be surprised to find out that there are some other self-care activities that can have longer-lasting results.

Self-Care Activities for Kids

Self-care activities for your kids? Yes. Though it may seem that all your children do is self-care with recess breaks from school, all the movies they watch when they’re at school, and a summer of fun. But the reality is that about a third of adolescents live with an anxiety disorder, and 21 percent of adolescents (ages 13–18) experience a severe mental disorder. And just talking to your neighbors, you might find you know more children with anxiety and depression than you thought you did.

So how do you help your children learn about self-care? You get them involved with self care before they need it and when they need it. One self-care activity that might appeal to your child is called neurofeedback therapy. Neurofeedback can help children struggling with anxiety, depression, ADD/ADHD. It can also help children on the autism spectrum and those with traumatic brain injury. A child will love the option to just watch a movie, but the movie will be programmed to help train the child’s brainwaves to get back to their optimal frequencies. Research has found that when brainwave frequencies are off, it can lead to worsened attention, sleep, anxiety, and mood, among other things.

And luckily Self-Care Week is around the corner, so Aspen Valley Counseling is even offering a discount on neurofeedback! Call to schedule your appointment after July 20 and before July 28, and you’ll only pay $37.50 per session (compared to the regular $50 per session or $100 per session of competitors).

Self-Care Activities for Mom

Moms are always busy. Moms who work outside the home have hectic days and then come home for their second shift of taking care of kids and the house. And moms who work at home never have a break to breathe. So where do they find time for self-care activities? It may not be easy, but you might be able to work in a little bit of time somewhere — and you might even be able to get your kids involved.

Finding videos at the store or online of yoga, Pilates, and dance cardio might be just what you need. These activities will get your blood flowing, your muscles stretching, and your heart rate up. But some people dread exercise, so how is sweating really self-care? To quote the movie “Legally Blonde,”: “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy…!” By working in just a little time to put on a video of dance cardio might just be the 15 minutes you need to make you feel a little happier.

Self-Care Activities for Dad

Now, for all the dads, getting a pedicure might not seem like your idea of self-care. Although, some dads might appreciate it because of the wonderful foot massage that comes along with the pedicure. So, what’s are good self-care activities for dad? Our culture doesn’t tend to focus so much on self-care for men, so this is an important topic to consider. Typically, men in American society are taught to bottle up their feelings so as not to appear too womanly, but turns out that isn’t very healthy. So self-care for dad might include going to therapy to learn how to express his unwanted emotions in a healthy, helpful way.

Don’t be scared dads! A therapist won’t judge you for crying, but they will help you work through your struggles and find a way to help you express yourself better.

Self-Care Activities for Grandparents

Maybe you’re a retired grandparent, or maybe you’re still working and you’ll be doing so forever. But either way, you need self-care too. A survey done by AARP found that older adults who tend to feel lonely were less likely to be involved in activities where they could build a social network. So for grandparents, self-care activities could include volunteering, going to an art or craft class, attending classes at your local recreation center, or finding an organization you’d like to participate in.

No matter what your age or circumstance, there are friends out there for you. So find something to participate in that furthers your interests, or try something new. Or if you’re just looking to help someone out, try websites like JustServe to help you get started.

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National Self-Improvement Month

September is national self-improvement month! Check our Facebook page daily for tips, strategies and giveaways to help you with your self – improvement goals! To start your month off right grab a note book and begin to track your journey of self – improvement. Spend a few minutes writing your thoughts and goals for your month. Writing is an action that can help you begin to create movement toward your goals!

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Self-improvement: Focus on the Positive

To aid in your journey of self-improvement make a deliberate effort to focus on the positive today. In your journal write about the positive things you noticed; a smile, a thoughtful act, a fragrant smell, and how the act of focusing on the positive effected you throughout the day. People who choose to make the effort to find positive in their experiences are happier, healthier and find more opportunities than individuals who focus on the negative.

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Self-improvement: An ongoing process

Self-improvement is an ongoing process, we are never finished. Today practice having acceptance with where you are on your journey. As negative thoughts creep into your awareness, just notice them and say to yourself, “it is what it is” or “this is where I am today, and that’s OK.” When we practice acceptance of where we are at this moment in our journey we stop being negative toward ourselves. Removing the negative energy through acceptance allows us to free up our energy to begin moving forward.