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.
I had to stay in town this weekend, so I figured I'd explore an area close to Boise that I hadn't explored before: JUMP CREEK CANYON! I've heard good things about this place for my entire life, but I really haven't spent much time in the Snake River Canyon area. So, about 60-70 minutes of a drive later, we were there. Directions can be found here: http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/fo/owyhee/recreation_sites_/Jump_Creek.html.
So, first we hiked up above the waterfall. There are trails that lead you to the north for a nice view of the falls and the striking canyons. I suggest doing this first--that way suspense builds like it did for us.
Here are some more photos from the hike above the falls:
After our adventure above, we ventured down to the creek that flows out from the waterfall.
And then, finally, to the waterfall:
Overall, I was very impressed with the hike. The falls are really easy to get to--took us less than 10 minutes once we actually headed towards them from the parking lot. I read that it's only a quarter of a mile (sounds about right). This is an easy day trip from Boise and I highly recommend it! Just try to pick up some trash while you're there! It's important to care for nature when we go into nature for our own benefits- a win win.
To conclude, I wanted to share some words of wisdom that I found on the way through Marsing:
Happy trails--and stay clean. :)
22 August 2009: Reached the top of Idaho! Mount Borah's summit!
Trip Stats: 12,662 feet above sea level
7 miles round trip
5,200 feet elevation gain
4 hours, 20 minutes to summit
3 hours, 40 minutes to descend
My friends and I hit the trailhead at 6:17 AM, after about 6 hours of sleep and some burnt pancakes. First hour was ROUGH, due to lack of sleep, and just not used to being up so early! We were hiking with minimal light, (enough to see the ground and rocks, etc., but we were in the trees so we couldn't really see our progress). Trail was good at this point; well-defined, not too rocky, (although still very steep), and you could usually go side by side, as opposed to later when it was definitely single-track. Seeing a few remaining stars as we started the ascent was some greatly appreciated motivation.
After 1 hour and 20 minutes, we reached the tree line, and were feeling much better. Talked to some interesting people up at the treeline. "Altimeter guy" gave us some quick stats about elevation. "Bum knee guy" was a great guy who genuinely loved hiking, despite his "bum knee" (evidenced by a knee brace and discussion). He had no intention to summit; he was just there to enjoy the mountain. We carried on, going up what was probably the least-steep section of the climb. Don't get me wrong- it was still very steep! The trail got a little less defined, but still easy to see. No trees left, just some sagebrush. The sun rose from behind the mountain, so the shadow down below in the valley was absolutely beautiful- one of the prettiest sights on the trip.
hicken Out Ridge finally showed itself. At first, we weren't sure we were on it. I can understand why so many people chicken out. In order to cross, you SHOULD have a healthy respect and fear of the ridge, because any mistake you make could very well be your last mistake. I had an appropriate level of fear and respect for the ridge, (which was supposedly about a quarter of a mile long), but I never once felt my life was in danger, or that I shouldn't be there. Adrenaline and endorphins, paired with careful hand and foot placement, carried me through until the end of the ridge, where we crossed a few inches of snow. We hopped across easily. Now, I always heard from people who are "in the know" that you should stay high on the ridge even if you are tempted not to, so we stayed high. I'm glad we did, because those who didn't struggled a lot more than we did, and we beat them across. I kept telling the girls and myself to make sure they have at LEAST 2 good hand/foot holds at ALL TIMES, and to go slow and steady, always making sure to be completely comfortable before moving. And we made it! I decided later that aside from the summit, Chicken Out Ridge was my favorite part of the journey.
We rested for a little bit before the last uphill stretch. The last push to the summit was about 1,100 feet and took us... maybe an hour? It was harder than it looked. It was very steep and the rock was poor quality. It slipped from under our feet regularly. This section was definitely a feet AND hands section. The lack of oxygen was apparent, but not as bad as I anticipated. I was feeling amazing, honestly. I thought I would've felt a lot more tired at this point, especially given the elevation.
About 10 feet from the top, we joined hands and walked to the summit together. We made it! We sat up there for about half an hour, enjoying the views of various mountain ranges around us. We signed the notebook- Borah's own visitor's registry. I was incredibly proud to be among those people who summitted. It was a little hazy up there, but you could still see the Sawtooths and all the way into Montana.
We recorded a video, ate, hydrated, and enjoyed. It was pretty windy at the top, so we were ready to descend after half an hour. The descent... ah, the descent. Trekking poles were so helpful, but still, the descent lived up to its reputation of being the worst part! It was so tedious and it seemed to never end. My knees wanted to be done with all of that agony! The rocks weren't sturdy. I wished so badly that I could just jog down, but that would be very dangerous. So, it took us 3 hours and 40 minutes to get down. That means a total of 8 hours hiking in one day- not too shabby. :)
The next day, I was sore, achy, and in denial! Reaching the summit of Idaho's tallest has been a goal of mine for over a year, and to finally have achieved it is possibly indescribable, but I will try. I have spent hours and hours planning, organizing, dreaming, fearing, wondering, researching, and discussing this feat. Now it is all over and done with. I am almost let down, because there is nothing higher in Idaho! But that won't stop me from enjoying every other adventure I have, because any time in nature is good time. Besides, there are other, taller mountains in other states that I have yet to conquer. It amazes me how much climbing Borah has changed my perspective on life. I have a love/hate relationship with climbing Borah, and other mountains in general. There were times I questioned why I was even attemping this, when I felt sick and fatigued. But outweighing those times were the extreme highs I felt. Beginning the ascent when a few stars had yet to disappear from the night sky, being halfway up the mountain as the sun casted Borah's shadow thousands of feet below us in the valley, and finally summitting while holding back tears of joy and holding the hands of two of my best friends... all of it was addicting. I am hooked, and already dreaming and contemplating my next ascent... but when, and where? So many options. Life has so much to offer... and I'm soaking it up as best I can!