Is it too late to say Happy New Year?…
January can be a tricky month. Festivities are over, for most, it’s back to work and the next payday seems too far in the distance. It’s also the time of year when we look at future goals and set resolutions.
I try to use this time of year to focus on the potential opportunities a new year can bring, but in doing that, I fall victim to feelings of anxiety and self-criticism when I look back on the resolutions I didn’t stick to and need to restart in the new year (I’m sure my aim for a 6 pack is rolling into it’s 5th year *rolls eyes*). This year, I have decided not to set any new resolutions in a bid to stay more focused on the present.
It’s easy to pay too much attention to the future goals and improvements, without noticing or giving ourselves credit for the steps we’re taking now that get us there.
Setting goals can be beneficial to your mental health if they are realistic. They can be used as motivational tools and can pose as reminders to stay productive. Below are some tips to help you ensure your goals will positively impact your mental health:
- Make them SMART – Vague goals or ones that are too broad can make it hard to achieve them. One of my rolling ones is ‘to be happy’ but on it’s own, what does that really mean? A great way to get clear on what you want is to make SMART goals. That’s Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Based. Think about what exactly do you want to achieve? Location? Who can help? Are there any restrictions to consider? What’s the time limit? If the goal is to be happy, what will that entail? You could make a list of things/activities that you enjoy or make you happy and tick one off on a weekly basis. By the end of the year you will hopefully feel a bit more fulfilled and can look back on your experiences.
- Think of why you are doing this – Knowing why you want to achieve your goals will help motivate you when things get tough. This will cause you to really reflect on the deeper reason behind you setting this goal. What will it mean for you achieving this goal? What will it bring to your life? What will success look like?
- Break goals down to sizeable chunks – Once you’ve decided on your goal and why you’re doing it, you can break it down into smaller tasks. This will keep you motivated and make the overall goal feel more achievable. A really good way of breaking your goal down is to focus on habits. For example, my goal is to lose weight so the habit I have created is to go to the gym on Tuesday, Wednesday and Sunday.
- Be kind to yourself – There will be days you’ll be more motivated than others and if you’re battling mental health issues as well, normal daily activities can be a struggle. Be kind to yourself and on those days, limit yourself to one small action, i.e. going to the supermarket for food. Sometimes we can have the best intentions when setting goals but they may take longer than anticipated or may need to be re-evaluated. Don’t be hard on yourself and keep pushing through as long as you stay focused, progress is being made.
If you have any tips of your own, please share them with us in the comments below.