Does The New Year Really Need A New You

New Year New You

As 2014 turned to 2015 I noticed a significant change in the marketing messages I was seeing. I also noticed a big shift in the status updates and posts I was seeing on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and on blogs. It seemed that the message was no longer one of acceptance, but of change.

Every year the first weeks bombard us with “New Year, New You” ads. Get in shape. Lose weight. Eat better. Join a gym for just pennies a day. Buy this weight-loss program. It’s everywhere!

This year all of this “New You” stuff is bothering me. What happened to all the “you’re perfect just the way you are”, “find YOUR style”, “keep making healthy choices” messages from just a few weeks and months ago? Why all of a sudden am I not acceptable just the way I am?

Sure, I get that there is always an opportunity to make better choices in the foods we eat and buy. I’m always trying to find new ways to add movement and exercise into my day. And, to be honest, who among us wouldn’t like to shed a few pounds. But just as the ball drops to signal the beginning of a new year, all of a sudden this need to change is just too much. New Year New You

I don’t know where the love, kindness, and appreciation went. In an instant it was gone. No longer was I good enough or acceptable as I was. I need to change. I need to be fixed. Something’s wrong with me. And I don’t like that message. New Year New You

Maybe it’s because for the first time I saw these through the eyes of a mom with a soon-to-be teen daughter. One who will see these messages and wonder if maybe there’s something wrong with her. A vulnerable child who might think that losing weight, being skinny, or depriving herself is what life is supposed to be like for women. New Year New You

Or, maybe it’s because at 45 I’m starting to understand the idea of self-acceptance. Especially in a world that is filled with only-the-best-life-has-to-offer status updates and photos. Which are interspersed with motivational quotes, pictures of cats, and lots of photos of food.

Whatever it is, I find this whole “New Year, New You” concept wrong. I get resolutions, but I see more people just choosing a word to focus how they’ll pilot the coming year. I see people ditching resolutions for more informed lifestyle changes. I’m not a resolutions kind of person. Instead, I work on my well-being every day and am constantly seeking ways to accept myself while also using resources to improve. I think the new year is always a great time to reflect on what worked and what didn’t. But that’s also how I feel about almost any random day. It can be the first of each month, or quarterly, or even daily.

I think a lot of people like me just the way I am. And, well, I like me. So why should I create a new me just because it’s a new year?

Image Courtesy of stockimages at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Sara

Achieving Your Dreams Takes Planning


photo credit: _rockinfree

The other day, my friend Li had a beautiful post talking about her dream to become an actress.  You should go read it, she did a great job. I’ll wait. …….

Ok, welcome back!

It’s something she really wants. But the glitch is that she not only has a day job, but also has financial obligations that prevent her from pursuing her acting full time. I know she’s not alone in having a dream and feeling that she can’t pursue it because of more practical obligations.

I left her a lengthy comment (and if you know me and my comments on blog, its actually very normal) about working to take positive steps toward making this dream, which truly is her passion, a reality. See, her post resonated with me because I too am a lawyer like she is.  And I, too, became a lawyer and realized shortly after passing the bar that being a lawyer in real life has little resemblance to those portrayed on television or movies.

But, just like Li, I’m a lawyer who knows there is more to life than what we do on a daily basis. And, I also know that when she say people think we make the big bucks that they are obviously unaware that many of us toil for well under six-figure salaries.

How do you just up and leave your job though? I admire people who do and then figure it out afterward. I’m a planner though, so you’ll never see me throwing caution to the wind and just winging it for the sake of just doing something.  That’s both good and bad.  Good because I’ll think things through and make a plan so I can succeed. Bad, though, because I’ll analyze everything six ways of Sunday and then again just to double check. Meanwhile, life is passing by.

Nonetheless, if you have a plan, it’s easy to know where you’re going. I’ve come up with 5 ways to help you achieve your dreams.

1. Create a vision board – put up words, images, inspiration trinkets, whatever it is that inspires you to keep working each day to achieve your dream.

2. Encourage yourself – write yourself encouraging messages and place them around your house, car and office so that when you see them you’re reminded of your goal and will be less likely to self-sabotage. For example, if you need to save money and eating out is a big chunk then reminding yourself why you should eat in or pack your lunch will motivate you not to hit the take-out line.

3. Enlist Others – you can’t do it alone. We need cheerleaders! If you share your goal with trusted friends, they’ll help to keep you going. Also, they’re less likely to sabotage your goal if they know you’re really working hard to achieve this. Friends, both online and in real life, are an invaluable resource for support.

4. Be prepared for relapses – we all get off track, but knowing that you’re off track will prevent you from completely going astray. If you veer off course, right your ship and get back on track.

5. Take small steps – you can’t get from point A to point B in one fell swoop (well, usually you can’t). You didn’t learn to walk in a day. You didn’t master the internet overnight. You didn’t find success in other parts of your life without interim steps. Create smaller goals so you have things to celebrate. Just like the fundraiser that colors in the thermometer as they hit certain thresholds, we deserve to reward ourselves along the way.

I try to implement these into my own life. Except I don’t have a vision board. I have notebooks and journals as well as photographs up on the wall. I even have pictures and saying and such taped up around my desk.  Just like great products go through brainstorming sessions, that’s kind of what a vision board is for each of us. It’s our own personal brainstorming session and we can update and change it as we like. Because it’s our dream!

So let’s create vision board together. Let’s agree to support each other by sharing our dreams and not being shy about what it is we want. No self-sabotage!  We can achieve anything we want if we want it bad enough. I can do it! I know you can do it. It just takes time and a plan. Map out your success and you will get there! We can get there together, because there is so much fun along the way but at the end, it’s magic!

Do  you have a vision board or written personal goals? What’s on your vision board?

PS: Yes, I love Wicked!  Let’s Defy Gravity!

Sara

Setting Goals for 2010

Goal setting is a powerful process for thinking about what you want in your ideal future.  It is also used for motivating yourself to make this vision of the future a reality for you.

The process of setting goals helps you choose where you want to go in life.  By knowing precisely what you want to achieve, you know where you have to concentrate your efforts.  You’ll also quickly spot the things that can distract you and take you off course.

A great acronym for setting your goals is SMART.

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely

Specific

Goals should be straightforward and emphasize what you want to happen. Specifics help us to focus our efforts and clearly define what we are going to do. Specific is the What, Why, and How of the SMART model.

WHAT are you going to do? Use action words such as direct, organize, coordinate, lead, develop, plan, build etc.
WHY is this important to do at this time? What do you want to ultimately accomplish?
HOW are you going to do it? (By…)

Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 10 pounds or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.

Measurable

If you can’t measure it, you can’t manage it. In the broadest sense, the whole goal statement is a measure for the project; if the goal is accomplished, the is a success. However, there are usually several short-term or small measurements that can be built into the goal.

Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you see when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read 3 chapter books of 100 pages on my own before my birthday” shows the specific target to be measure. “I want to be a good reader” is not as measurable.

Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.

Attainable

When you identify goals that are most important to you, you begin to figure out ways you can make them come true. You develop that attitudes, abilities, skills, and financial capacity to reach them. Your begin seeing previously overlooked opportunities to bring yourself closer to the achievement of your goals.

Goals you set which are too far out of your reach, you probably won’t commit to doing. Although you may start with the best of intentions, the knowledge that it’s too much for you means your subconscious will keep reminding you of this fact and will stop you from even giving it your best.

A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable. But setting a goal to loose 1lb and when you’ve achieved that, aiming to lose a further 1lb, will keep it achievable for you.

The feeling of success which this brings helps you to remain motivated.

Realistic

This is not a synonym for “easy.”  Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.”   It means that the learning curve is not a vertical slope; that the skills needed to do the work are available; that the project fits with the overall strategy and goals of the organization.  A realistic project may push the skills and knowledge of the people working on it but it shouldn’t break them.

Devise a plan or a way of getting there which makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. A goal of never again eating sweets, cakes, crisps and chocolate may not be realistic for someone who really enjoys these foods.

For instance, it may be more realistic to set a goal of eating a piece of fruit each day instead of one sweet item. You can then choose to work towards reducing the amount of sweet products gradually as and when this feels realistic for you.

Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!

Timely

Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, beginning of summer. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work toward.

If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.

Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic.

Everyone will benefit from goals and objectives if they are SMART.   SMART, is the instrument to apply in setting your goals and objectives.

[Thank you Goal Setting Guide]