Tips for a better 2022

The last two years have been challenging for everyone with COVID related challenges (social isolation, separation from friends and loved ones, fear about the virus and vaccinations (with that fear causing community and family divisions), sense of overwhelm with the amount of daily information coming at us from all directions, changing habits to getting used to social distancing/checking in at shops, loss of leisure/social activities, loss of employment and income, loss of freedoms, grief at not being able to celebrate or mourn in the usual ways (funerals, weddings, graduations etc) and conversely for many in the southern states anxiety around resuming some normality in daily activities after a lengthy period of restrictions). WOW. That is a lot to cope with!

I think that’s why having some personal goals/resolutions is of importance – because when there is so much going on around us that is out of our control, we can feel overwhelmed, stressed, anxious and depressed. If we can focus on the things we CAN do (in a healthy way), no matter how small those things may seem, it provides us with a sense of empowerment, direction, purpose and autonomy.

Any time of the year can be good to set some goals and start working towards them, but the start of a brand-new year is a great time for many to set those resolutions. All too often however, those resolutions have crumbled within days or weeks and before we know it a whole year has passed by and we start setting the same goals again for the next year! Here are some ideas for making it more likely that you will stick to and achieve those new year’s resolutions:

· Firstly, don’t take on too much at once and set too many resolutions; one or two will be enough

· Make resolutions that are important to YOU

· Prepare for the fact that any change may be gradual

Having a plan for your resolution can be helpful, and using the SMART acronym is a good guide:

· SPECIFIC – Instead of “I want to lost weight” make it “I want to lose 5kgs”. Instead of “I want to be fitter” aim for “I want to be able to walk 5 kms in one hour” or “I want to walk for 30 mins per day on 3 days per week.” Break larger goals down into smaller steps if needed – ticking off those smaller goals along the way will help to maintain motivation.

· MEASUREABLE – use specific measurements to have an end point and track your progress. Use such things numbers, weight, times, dates, kilometres, rating scales.

· ACHIEVEABLE – Goals must be truly achievable, but don’t set the benchmark too low either. Making those smaller goals on the way to a larger goal if needed will provide that sense of achievement.

· REALISTIC AND RESOURCED – Goals should not only correspond with the things that are most important to you, they should also be achievable with the resources you have. If you don’t have the resources, do you need to get these first, before you start working towards the goal?

· TIMEFRAME – it’s important to set timeframes for achievement as a way to measure progress and keep track of success. They can be flexible however, to allow for unexpected circumstances.

It’s important to celebrate successes, but if you lose motivation or find that there is no achievement towards your goals, reflect on why this may be happening. What are your thoughts? What are the tangible barriers (eg. Financial, competing priorities)? Take some time to change your unhelpful thoughts into something more helpful (eg. Instead of “I’ll never do this” you could say “this is tougher than I thought but I can do it”). Or disengage from unhelpful thinking by not paying attention to the thoughts but instead putting your energy and focus onto the behaviour itself; label the thought for what it is “that’s an unhelpful thought” and then focus on what you need to do in order to achieve your goal by breaking it down into steps (eg. if you want to go for a walk, break this task down into steps and focus on one at a time – I need to stand up, I need to put my shoes on, I need to grab my keys, I need to move through the front door, I need to start walking towards the footpath). You may need to problem-solve in order to overcome some barriers or you may need to break the goal down into something smaller. Happy, healthy new year everyone and may 2022 bring you the opportunity to celebrate successes no matter how big or small.