The start of a New Year is a popular time for setting goals, often referred to as New Years Resolutions. A resolution expresses your commitment to do or not do something, such as increasing exercise or not eating chocolate. The purpose is to solve a problem or improve a situation. Setting a goal defines the desired result you are seeking, but you have to take care not to confuse these with wishes. Wishes are difficult to achieve because they involve change that is out of your control, or a type of change that is unrealistic. So how do we set meaningful and achievable goals?
1) What am I seeking?
Be very clear and specific about what you aim to achieve. You have to believe that you will benefit from the goal.
Tip – write down the perceived benefits of achieving your goal
In addition to acknowledging the benefits of more energy or improved cooking skills, it helps to visualise how you will feel achieving and maintaining your goal. As an example you may set a goal to cook one new recipe for a nutritious meal a fortnight. Visualise yourself planning the meal, shopping, preparing and eating the food you have created. Sense your satisfaction and pleasure. If you start salivating, you know that your visualisation is really working!
Tip – set measures or targets for your goal so you can monitor your progress
A goal for increasing the variety of home-cooked evening meals would include a frequency, such as once a fortnight and a description of the types of meals you wish to cook e.g. vegetable based, region (India, Thai). You may also include a timeframe, such as for six months.
Tip – write your goal in the present tense and create an affirmation
“It is now 30 June 2015 and I have learned to cook fourteen new vegetarian meals from Indian and Moroccan cuisines. I enjoy greater confidence and satisfaction from cooking my own meals, as well as increased energy levels.”
2) Do I have time to change?
Consider how much time you need for your new goals. Using the above example, you may need additional time to plan your weekly meals and for shopping and cooking. Making time to cook new recipes may mean something else in your week needs to change. You may choose to watch less TV or if you travel on public transport you may use your travel time to plan meals and new recipes and write a shopping list.
Tip – introduce one goal at a time and no more than three
This way you can gradually incorporate the changes into your routine.
3) Have I found the right solution?
It is important to have a weekly or fortnightly meeting with yourself to check your progress. This way you can review whether you are receiving the benefits that you had imaged. Your reflection time might uncover that your strategy for cooking new recipes is not working — perhaps the recipes are too complicated or you have found out that you don’t enjoy Indian spices. If this occurs, it is time to modify your goal and seek out more basic recipes and perhaps try Italian cuisine.
Tip – if your goal is not working, modify it
Enjoy the challenge of setting new goals, but make sure they are meaningful and achievable. We will revisit our New Years Resolutions as the year progresses. I wish you a very happy and fulfilling year.