2020 was a challenging year, and now that the year is over, it might feel like everything is new. However, the beginning of this year brings its own challenges, and while it can be tempting to set high expectations for yourself through the traditional New Years’ resolutions, doing so could be detrimental to your mental and physical health. Goal setting can be a useful tool and making sure that you set attainable goals can help you use this tool well.
Types of goal-setting strategies
There are many different ways to set goals, however, there are two main strategies that work well while preserving your mental health. The first strategy is known as SMART goals and is often used by businesses for creating plans. SMART is an acronym for goal setting criteria. Goals must be Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, and Time-bound. This framework is built around clarity, in order to create goals that are actionable, objective, and reasonable.
The second strategy is similar to the SMART framework and is relatively new. This is called FAST goals, which are Frequently discussed, Ambitious, Specific, and Transparent. While this framework is typically used as a strategy for collective systems, such as teams, partnering with one or more people and forming goals this way will increase your success through accountability and community encouragement.
A good goal-setting strategy is important, but what kind of goals are most helpful? The American Behavioral Clinic suggests that instead of resolving to lose weight, individuals should set goals around stress reduction. Reducing stress comes in many achievable forms, such as exercise, journaling, light reading, meditation, or even finding a new hobby, and has many physical and mental health benefits. While it can be difficult, another helpful resolution is to replace an unhealthy habit, such as smoking, with a healthy habit, such as walking more. It takes six months on average to form a new habit, so while this resolution may seem daunting, it will become easier over time, and promote a lifetime of health. Finally, though it can become easy to isolate yourself, relationships with others contribute majorly to mental health and well-being. This year, resolve to surround yourself with positive and healthy people and find creative ways to communicate, such as regular Zoom calls or online game nights. Remember to give yourself grace and patience as you navigate through the year, and that it’s always okay to ask for help.
If you want help setting healthy goals for this year, set up an appointment with one of our clinicians here.