Many people have heard the acronym SMART for setting goals. But let’s take a deeper look into what that really means and how it can be used. ‘Tis the season for setting resolutions, after all!
Specific: Goals should be specific. Rather than “exercise more,” think about the details. Do you want to go hiking, go to the gym, or do more yoga? Another common resolution is to “live life to the fullest.” How will you know you’ve achieved this vague (but important) goal?
Measureable: We need to know what progress we’ve made and when we have achieved a goal. Instead of “lose weight,” how about “lose 10 pounds”? Rather than “spend more time with friends and family” what about quantifying that… “see friends once a week” or “call Mom once a week”?
Achievable: These goals need to be achievable and healthy. Rather than stating that you will work out six days a week—when you currently don’t work out at all—try a more realistic approach such as working out twice a week to start, and increasing once this habit feels natural. Another important consideration is that the goals are achievable long-term. If you lose weight just to gain it back again shortly after, that will probably do more harm than good. How can you integrate these goals into your life in a sustainable way?
Relevant: Goals must be relevant. Another way I like to think of this is that they are meaningful. For example, let’s go back to the goal of losing weight. What does that really mean to you? How will you feel differently when this is achieved? If your goal is to exercise more, how will you feel? What will it enable you to do? Will you feel happier, more capable, and stronger? Tap into the emotions and meaning behind your desires and goals.
Time-limited: This is when we place a deadline on our goals. If you want to lose 20 pounds throughout the year, how about losing two pounds in January, and another 2 in February… etc.
Hopefully the SMART acronym will help you set goals you feel good about! Here are a few other pointers…
Some of my goals for this year include finishing a first draft of an ecotherapy book, climbing all the mountains in Idaho that are over 12,000 feet, and becoming a beekeeper. What are your resolutions?
For more on setting resolutions, goals, and intentions, see my previous blog post, Reflections for the Winter Solstice.
The perfect time to pause and reflect is coming: the 2017 Winter Solstice takes place at 9:28 am on December 21st. At this time, the earth is at maximum tilt, with the northern hemisphere tilted far from the sun. It is a pivotal moment: Before the solstice the days continue to shorten, and after the solstice the days begin get longer. After the solstice, the earth begins its journey slowly tilting the other direction until the end of June (Summer Solstice). The two solstices we get each year are two of my favorite days!
Solstice can be translated to “sun stands still” or simply, “stillness.” What a wonderful time to be still ourselves and reflect on where we have been and where we would like to go. Although it will be the longest and darkest day of the year, inherent in that is something equally important… HOPE. There is hope that more sun—more light, opportunity, joy—is inevitable! We know this to be true: the days will literally get brighter. What a beautiful metaphor.
Here are some questions to ask yourself in the few days before and after the solstice. Meditate with these questions in mind, talk it over with a trusted friend, or jot down your thoughts.
Interestingly, New Year’s Eve and the new calendar year occurs shortly after the Winter Solstice. I personally enjoy the New Year holiday for the hope and reflection it brings. However, there is something so natural and logical about perhaps beginning our new year’s resolutions—and engaging in reflection—during the Winter Solstice instead (or you can do both).
Happy Winter Solstice to you and yours! I hope that the stillness provides rest and peace, and I hope that the new year brings plenty of light and opportunity your way.
I first discovered this idea of “hygge” while reading Thrive by Dan Buettner. In Thrive, we learn about areas around the world with exceptionally high numbers of thriving centenarians (people age 100+ who are happy and healthy too). The book gives us a detailed look into the way of life in these places. It’s a great book that is truly a holistic way to think about health. I recommend it!
Back to the idea of hygge (pronounced “hooga”). Denmark, home of hygge, is overall a very happy and healthy place to live. Even throughout the many long and cold hours of this Northern country, the Danish have figured out how to embrace what they have and live in harmony with nature all year long, even in the winter (for more on the wintertime health, see my previous blog post). Hygge doesn’t have a direct translation into English, but the word coziness is pretty close.
So how can you embrace this concept of hygge now and throughout the year?
When the days get colder and shorter, remember to hygge. Think of the winter as a time to get cozy, slow down, and enjoy the simple things. While some of these things can certainly be done year-round, winter demands that we slow down and embrace the hygge.