New Year’s Resolutions

– Jeannette Northern, guest blogger

Hello! My name is Jeannette, and I’m the new intern for ACMC’s Wellness Program. I’ll be guest blogging in January and possibly beyond as part of my hours to earn a master’s degree in Integrative Health Studies and Wellness Coaching at the California Institute of Integral Studies. I’m also a Jin Shin Jyutsu practitioner and self-help instructor. If you’re unfamiliar with this practice, check out my website at

As I sit by a fire tonight writing this blog, I want to wish you all a warm 2013 greeting!

Each year as New Year’s Eve approaches, many of us think about making changes in our lives in the year to come. These changes we long for can take many forms, and often  involve  losing weight, quitting smoking, or reviving an old hobby. To get ideas for my own resolutions, I asked myself a question: “What do I enjoy doing and how can I do more of it in 2013?” I started listing things and prioritizing them.


taking photos is on that list for me!

As I looked at the list and began to think more specifically about the intentions I wish to set and how I’ll go about making them a reality, setting SMART goals came to mind. You may already know about SMART goals, but just as a refresher, SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. They work well to break down a big change into small, incremental pieces that are much easier to achieve. Let’s walk through this together.

  • Specific: Being specific means naming a task as precisely as possible. A general new year’s goal might be “I want to get in shape this year,” whereas a specific goal would be “I’m going to join my local gym and start going,” or “I am going to reduce my soda intake to 2 sodas per week and replace the rest with water.”
  • Measurable: Goals that can be measured help us to stay on track. As you plan to set up an exercise routine, decide how much time you want to devote, how many days per week, and what you’re going to measure to know that you’ve reached your goal over time. Are you trying to lose pounds or are you training for a half marathon? A measurable goal might be “I’m going to spend 3 hours per week at the gym, exercising after work on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:30 to 7pm. I will weigh in every two weeks to monitor the changes in my weight.” – note that the goal isn’t to lose 5 lbs a week. It’s to go to the gym. We can control how often we go to the gym much more easily than the pounds on the scale, and setting goals we can control and measure will hold us more accountable and allow us to celebrate success more easily.
  • Attainable: After you’ve decided on a goal for yourself, ask yourself if it’s attainable. For example, if my new year’s resolution is to pursue my love for photography by enrolling in a class at the local community college, is this something that I can actually commit to doing? Does my schedule work with the class schedule? Can I manage the extra work it might require? Am I willing and able to make room for this activity in my life? If the answer isn’t yes, reassess your goal.
  • Realistic: This one is tricky. The goal should be a challenge, but you should be confident that you can reach it – a slight stretch, but nothing too crazy. Set your sights high without dooming yourself to failure. If you start with something you know you can do, (like the gym twice a week goal above) you’ll be able to create momentum and success each week and then adjust your goal as you become more ambitious.
  • Timely: Goals often need to have a time frame. If my resolution is to learn 10 new songs on the guitar, by when do I want to have learned them? What’s a manageable deadline? Mark that spot on your calendar and go for it, one step at a time.

So here’s what we have:

  • General goal: I want to get in shape this year.
  • SMART goal: I will get in shape by joining my local gym and hiring a personal trainer once a week. I’ll see the PT every Tuesday from 5:30 to 7pm, and I’ll do a workout on my own or find a class every Thursday at the same time. I’ll weigh in once a week to track my progress, and after 1 month, I’ll reassess my goal.
  • General goal: I want to take more/better photos this year.
  • SMART goal: I will enroll at my local community college for the weekly photography class next semester and commit to 2 hours of photo editing every Monday night from 6 to 8pm. At the class’s conclusion, I’ll create a new goal to continue my hobby.
  • General goal: I want to play the guitar more often.
  • SMART goal: I will learn one new song every two weeks by practicing for at least 20 minutes 5 days per week, Sunday through Thursday. I will revisit my goal after 2 months and decide if it needs adjusting.

Is this starting to make sense? What are your goals for 2013? As you think about your New Year’s resolutions, see if you can frame them using SMART goals.

In closing the doors on 2012, may we all look forward to the newness and promise of change, accompanied by more peace and joy in the New Year. Wishing you all the best and may you move gently into the coming year!

4 thoughts on “New Year’s Resolutions

  1. Normally, I’m not a goal oriented person… at least, that’s what I thought…. After reading this blog entry, I came to see that I am really, just not in the way I see most people I know doing it. I like the ‘take small practical steps’ tone she writes about… Since I tend to be a dreamer, I don’t consider my larger visions to be goals… but merely identifying the path I’m already on… Yet taking small steps is the way to get there… and that’s what I’ve been practicing all my life- how to identify and take the next small practical step. Thanks to Mz. Northern for skillfully identifying a process I sometimes just try and ‘feel into.’

  2. Pingback: Tips For Keeping Your Resolutions Moving Along In 2013 « Passport to a Healthy Me!

  3. Pingback: Walking: May is Excerise at Work Month | Passport to a Healthy Me!

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