For years, I have heard the word “goals” being spewn person to person, overhearing in conversation or through countless Instagram photos from those who are supposed to be people who influence us. Each time I heard this word, I cringed, and I wasn’t sure why until recently.
As the new year approaches, two things are likely happening: you’re beating yourself up for what you didn’t get done and the goals you did not accomplish this year and you’re planning on what you will do in 2019 because you have a “fresh start”. Take a moment to reflect on which mindset you are currently falling into.
The end of December often makes us feel guilty after reflecting on last year. Where did the time go? Why am I still fat? Why do I not go to the gym still? Why am I still in my dead-end job? Why am I still single? Why am I unhappy? The list continues. For many, the goals we had set did not come to fruition and you’re left beating yourself up or feeling guilty for the lack of progress you made in your life for the last 365 days.
When looking at a new year as an opportunity to start fresh, this can bring a lot of hope for many of us. We look at what we want to accomplish or achieve or what we want to do better at and we make goals accordingly. For many of my clients, these goals look something like this:
These are great aspirations, of course. However, these “goals” are concerning to me. My first question is “Why these things?” and my second question is “Why haven’t you already done these things?”
These goals listed above have no plan behind them. They are things that sound good, that bring a small amount of hope, but have no weight or bones to them.
Instead of making goals for yourself for an entire year, I encourage you and the people I work with to set intentions instead. According What are you wanting to be intentional about? Why are these intentions important to you? Are these intentions helping you create the lifestyle that is going to lead you to be fulfilled and happy with your choices, behaviors, relationship and thoughts? What steps do you need in order to be intentional in these specific areas?
We attach ourselves so much to the goals we set that we are just trying to cross them off our checklist in hopes that they will make us feel better about our lives or where we are at. Instead, creating intentions are helping you facilitate, create, and maintain behaviors that are allowing you to makes
steps to a fulfilling and meaningful life and lifestyle.
Here are some examples of what intentions could be instead of the goals listed above:
Set the intention of choosing healthier foods because it will make you better at work, in your relationships, and have more energy. “I will incorporate more vegetables into my meals because I know that I will feel better and feel fuller longer. I will feel happy with my decision to eat vegetables instead of guilty for eating processed food, chips, candy, sweets, etc. I will do this by grocery shopping weekly and meal planning so that I can prepare for the day and set myself up for success instead of being hungry and settling for fast food.”
...find my passion.
If you’re in a place where you don’t see yourself staying long-term, look at this step as a stepping stone or means to an end to take the pressure off yourself first. Next, how do you plan on “finding your passion”, really? Did you plan to meet with a coach? Seek business counseling? Maybe for this year, you can set your intention for trying things you wouldn’t normally try, stopping doing the things you don’t enjoy, and identify what you like about past careers to narrow down your search.
I would bet that this isn’t really your goal. I would imagine you don’t want to date just anyone. You probably want to go out with people who have some characteristics of someone who you think could be compatible with you. Instead of saying your goal is to start dating, try being intentional with the type of people you are going out with and where you are meeting them. Are you hoping to meet someone at church but never go? Maybe your intention could be to simply start going a few times a month. Are you more likely to meet someone online but have been dragging your feet to create a dating profile? Maybe your intention could be to sign up and actually use a 6 month membership to a dating site.
What intentions will you set?
It’s not enough to simply set goals. When we work so hard toward action steps to reach them and then come up short, we dismiss all the effort and healthy behaviors just because it didn’t add up to the overarching goal. Instead, look at your goal and identify what behaviors you need to do to get there. A goal would be to go yoga 5-7 times per week in the morning. Barriers to this goal could include staying up later than anticipated, starting bedtime routine late with the kids, and not getting things ready for the next day the night before. These are important to note. An intention, then, is to go to bed earlier and start the kids’ bedtime routine on time each night so you can get enough sleep to get up and do yoga, meditate, and get ready for your work day without being rushed. Here, we identified 3 barriers to reaching the goal and work backwards. You can do the same. Start 2019 feeling positive, keeping your thoughts in alignment with truth, and setting yourself up for success.
Robin Helget, LSCSW, CPT
"JUST because you took that detour does not mean you cannot do it."
Get in shape.
Americans flock toward the idea of self-improvement which is why I am willing to bet that one of these has made the top of your new year’s resolution list. In fact, year after year these are the most common goals made by American’s, but how many of us are able to stick to those goals? Unfortunately according to Forbes just 8% of us make it through the year and stay true to the goal we set out to accomplish.
It has nothing to do with our ability to achieve a goal either. Think back to a time when you set a goal and achieved it. Now think of another one. And another.
We have all set goals and achieved them, from going to school to running a race, so why do we struggle with making new year's resolutions stick? It has more to do with the goals you are setting than with you.
Here are some tips to help you make 2019 the year you set a resolution you can keep:
My 2019 Resolutions
I hope that the rest of your holiday season is filled with joy and that 2019 is a year that leaves you feeling like a more BA version of yourself.
"THe comforts of home can trigger the need to let go of the stored up stress, frustration and other strong emotions."
Does your child cry, whine, have a bad attitude, throw tantrums or withdraw after school? Does the teacher deny your child struggling during the school day? If this sounds familiar, you most likely have a child who is experiencing “after-school restraint collapse.”
After-school restraint collapse (most common for ages 12 and under) is when children can no longer keep it together once they’ve left the school environment. The comforts of home can trigger the need to let go of the stored up stress, frustration and other strong emotions.
During school hours, your child has to maintain self-control and follow school rules for many hours. Their day is full of physical, mental, emotional, and social stimulation. A single day can be learning new academics, following class rules and learning the “expected” behaviors, to having social conflicts with friends. Although children are aware of the school expectations of behavior, conduct, and rules; holding it together to remember those expectations and self-regulate takes a great deal of energy. All of this leads to being mentally draining and physically exhausted! This is tough for some children and most children don’t know how to decompress in a productive, positive way. These children no longer have the energy to keep up, and it feels like a big bubble that needs to pop.
If you believe you have a child experiencing after-school restraint collapse, below are some things you can try. Not all children are the same, it may take several tries, and you may need to pick a couple to find what works best for your child’s personality.
If you’ve had feelings of defeat or loss with these behaviors from your child, remember, your child is using a lot of energy to stay attentive and learn at school. Your child is trusting you and they feel safe to let go of their emotions and feelings. You can help them communicate better by simply practicing “I feel” statements, on a regular basis. Especially, when they are in a calm state. By practicing when calm, makes it easier for them to self-regulate and effectively communicate when they are stressed or need to take a break. This is something everyone in the family practice together.
“I feel _______________________ because ___________”
(happy, sad, mad, angry, excited) (I helped, the assignment was hard, felt left out)
Lori Cull-Deshmukh, LMSW, CPT
Child and Family Therapist