BY ADELLE LaBRECQUE
Staff Writer, UAS Whalesong
Welcome back, readers—and Happy 2017! I hope you’ve all had a great holiday season and are enjoying the New Year so far. Are you ready to begin the spring semester? Excited for any specific courses? I hope so!
On the note of “The New Year,” how many of us have set New Year’s Resolutions for ourselves? How are they going? Are you enjoying the progress? Are you meeting your expectations?
As many of you know, I often write on the subject of well-being. For lots of us, there is a nice “clean slate” feeling that accompanies the New Year. Changing the annual calendar, beginning a new semester, quitting smoking, buying a gym membership, implementing new work-out routines—you know what I mean. Things feel fresh. And if you’re anything like me, that feeling of “newness” in the middle of winter is exactly the boost you need. Placing focus on new, positive goals can easily help us to feel “in control” of our lives again, energized, mentally present, and optimistic.
In my most recent article, I discussed a rather sensitive subject in relation to the holidays—one that’s often not considered by people who have never had to deal with it. That is: mildly, or widely, loathing the time spent with family. Due to the high level of positive feedback I received from others—with added emphasis on the article’s “interactive” content—I have decided to apply a similar approach in this article so the reader can again, become engaged.
I recommend answering the following questions aloud as you read, or write them down, so you can reference them at a later date.
Step 1: First Thoughts
1. Did you create “resolutions” or “goals” for yourself for this New Year? Why or why not?
2. In a perfect world, where nothing stood in the way of your resolutions, what would your New Year be like? What specific goals would you accomplish?
3. In the past, have you set big important goals for yourself that you were unable to meet? If so, what happened to keep these goals from being met?
4. When being completely honest, would you say you’ve had unrealistic expectations of yourself in the past when creating New Year’s Resolutions?
5. Do your New Year’s Resolutions seem to require more time than you have available for them? How could you make this more manageable? What unnecessary activities could be cut from your schedule?
6. What—above all—do you really want for your lifestyle? (For example: rather than saying, “I want to lose thirty pounds before my vacation this spring,” maybe you could declare, “I want to eat a healthier, more balanced diet and implement a successful exercise routine.”)
7. In what ways can you “check-in” with yourself to keep your momentum high, so that you can remain successful? (For example: would it be more helpful to reference your goals as “lifestyle changes” instead of “New Year’s Resolutions”)?
Listed below are my real life goals for 2017. Perhaps they can inspire you to share, (or even start!) your own goals:
1. Graduate with my Bachelor’s Degree in Art with a Minor in Creative Writing
2. Apply to online graduate schools for Literary Journalism
3. Get accepted into online graduate schools for Literary Journalism
4. Bartend to afford chosen graduate school
5. Get married in Hawaii this July—yep, you read it right—yay!
6. Drink celebratory Mai Tai on Hawaiian beach with my new husband and my family
7. Rock the Wife-Life
At this time—aside from marriage, of course—the timeline of these goals brings me to the end of July. Right now, those are the largest, most important milestones for me, and—as of this article—are as far ahead as I need to imagine.
What are your goals for 2017? What would you like to be proactive about this year? Do you have a desire to travel? Would you like to quit smoking? What are you determined to “finally do this year?” Is there something you’ve always wanted to try? Give these things some serious thought, and write them down. Keep writing until you are satisfied with your thoughts.
Then, turn them into your plans.
Step 2: Getting There
Expectation: “I am going to exercise for two hours every morning before work, so I will be fit enough for my spring vacation in March.”
Reality: Gets up early and does exactly this for one week. Overexerts body. Feels physically miserable. Has to stop due to pain. Ditches the resolution altogether after not being able to meet completely over-the-top self-expectations.
Be honest with yourself and your timeframes! Set yourself up for success by creating commitments that you can actually keep. Like in the example, don’t create this as your goal if you rarely exercise and completely hate mornings. Rather, approach things at a gentler pace. Maybe take thirty minutes after work, or during your lunch break, to take a walk around the block, followed by a clean, healthy meal. This goal will become easier each time, and eventually turn into a healthy habit that can expand further. If you’re anything like me and for whatever reasons have never applied a consistent one—do yourself a favor and get into a solid, positive routine. For the most part, I have never been a person of routine. On top of being a full-time college student, working as a bartender and server, it has been incredibly difficult to get into a consistent schedule. My work shifts constantly alternate, and while some shifts take place during the daytime hours, most of which begin around 5:00pm and end anywhere from 11:00pm to 1:30am. This “un-routine” has been my schedule for so many years that, overall, it has hardly been beneficial for me to even create a routine! It was only until very recently that I have been able to keep a consistent work schedule. Having a schedule directly helped me to create a solid routine. If you can do it, make yourself a positive routine that sets you up for success.
A method I have found to greatly improve my performance when it comes to goal-reaching is journaling every day about what it is I’m trying to achieve, even if only for a few minutes. I have found it to keep me focused and on-track with what I want to accomplish, and especially keeps my momentum high!
Other helpful methods include inspirational cork boards (physical, not virtual, at least, in my case), sharing my goals with those I can count on to give positive, thoughtful feedback, keeping a weekly or monthly calendar that is edited regularly, and with frequent “self-check-ins.”
Below I have created an example of a “Weekly Check-in” which I’ve found is a great way to “visualize” the days ahead, and is especially helpful in relation to finances. In the blank days, write in your responsibilities throughout the day, including wake and sleep times, meal times, time spent commuting, hours spent on homework, work shifts, etc. This method can really help you to use time more wisely, because it provides a visual of the hours available to you in a day for your tasks.
Step 3: Manifesting Your Goals
Remember, for many goals it can be difficult to see results right away. For example, in weight-loss, it can take quite a while to see the results, or paying off credit card debt—a goal that can take years—but can still be done! We need to remind ourselves to keep moving forward with the next step, even when things feel as if they are at a standstill. As a matter of fact, especially when we feel our goals are at a standstill. This is another reason I recommend journaling—keep that momentum high!
Below is a list I’ve created to help you feel empowered while proceeding with your plans. These tools have really helped me to remain motivated in my goals, even when I’m feeling low:
1. “The D.A.L.E. List:” This stands for “Do A Little Everyday” List. I created this tool a while back, when I was trying to polish my skills in a particular subject. Rather than trying to do everything at once, I was like, “Hmm…maybe if I at least did a little bit everyday…” and just like that, The D.A.L.E. List was born. It’s an ongoing list that applies to growing projects that are all on your own timeline.
2. “Beer Me, Bartender—or don’t.” Especially when working on someone else’s deadlines, try to avoid drinking alcohol as much as possible. Let’s be real with ourselves—alcohol can be a huge distraction if we let it. Don’t get me wrong, I love the taste of a nice, cold beer—I’m a bartender for goodness sake! However, on that same token, I have also worked in the Food and Beverage Industry long enough to watch it become a distraction and vice far too many times—stay smart in your consumption!
3. “Procrastination Nation:” Procrastination is a natural response to stress—we all do it! Sometimes, the idea of just starting a project seems so overwhelming, and so we continue to put it off. However, try and talk yourself out of it. Ask yourself out loud: “Why am I putting this (insert name or project) off? What simple step could I take in this very moment to begin?” Whatever first thoughts come to mind… Just. Freaking. Act. Don’t think…don’t overthink—just do. Just do.
Remember, goal-setting and reaching is a process that takes time. Be gentle with yourself! If you’re feeling low, recognize the big picture: How far have you already come? What milestones have you already accomplished? Are you closer to your goal than you were six months ago? Remind yourself of these things regularly and ask for help when you need it—there is nothing wrong in doing so!
As always readers, I hope you can feel empowered and motivated to apply these ideas toward your own life goals. Take care!