Focus on smaller goals this year


Commentary by Nancy Edwards

Many of us make a list of goals at the beginning of each year. These New Year’s resolutions typically revolve around losing weight, saving money, going back to school, getting a better job, breaking a bad habit, or volunteering.

We mean well at the time. But most of us find that the goals don’t last very long. And let’s face it: the dreary, cold weather and lack of sun makes us hibernate. We may work long hours, have families, work two jobs, and find that our goals are not realistic.

The problem is that we set our goals too high. I realized this while reading an article on losing weight. The story recommended that instead of setting a goal of losing 20 to 30 pounds, try to lose a pound a week. The article listed ways to achieve this goal: exercising 30 minutes a few days a week, and swapping out just one fatty food or drink for a healthier one.

“Wow,” I thought, “I can do that!” I had just assumed all along that I must hit the gym five days a week for an hour at a time, and replace all my comfort foods for a diet of mostly boring vegetables. We set ourselves up for failure by expecting ourselves to sacrifice too much.

Volunteering may be something we want to do, but find that we just may not have that much time or energy. I volunteer for just two hours a week doing something I love. That makes a difference because I don’t actually feel like I’m volunteering for a job and it doesn’t take up much time.

Another goal I sometimes miss is making the effort to get out and be with friends more or join a club.

“I have too much work to do, too many deadlines,” I reason, then get depressed when I spend a few days at home without getting out. I forget that a one-hour coffee date is reasonable. I laugh more in the company of friends, feel happier and refreshed, and I’m actually ready to complete a task rather than cramming in my writing and editing all at once, which leads to exhaustion later on.

Saving money also doesn’t have to mean cutting out all your favorite activities, but is there something that you wouldn’t miss much if you did cut it out or find a more affordable version? Maybe replacing your $5 daily coffee habit for once a week as a treat or renting books or movies at the library as opposed to buying them?

Try some “baby steps” this year. See if this helps with your motivation and if it may lead to other small goals. Happy New Year!






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