New year, new opportunities

This time of the year is a good chance for people to reflect on the preceding 12 months and consider their plans, expectations and goals for the next.  Most refer to these goals as “new years’ resolutions”.

There have recently been a few memes and Facebook posts about how this is generally short-lived (the cut-out below was posted on the Australian Women’s Weekly Facebook page), yet there is some evidence that new years resolutions can be achieved and sustained.

The main issue in my mind is ensuring that these resolutions are well-considered and specific, rather than, for instance, “eat better” or “exercise more”.  To be sustainable, the person making them must also be at an appropriate stage in the ‘readiness to change’ cycle. These things can’t be forced!

A good mnemonic that I was taught at Monash University for goal-setting is as follows:

Goals need to be ‘SAME’:

S – Specific

A – Achievable

M – Measurable

E – Enjoyable

Although goal-setting and action on behaviour change can occur at any time of year, for many people the turning over to a new year is a great excuse and opportunity to think about making new healthy changes in their lives.  So why not cash in on this?  To use the above mnemonic in an example, let’s take the “exercise more” new years’ resolution above and make it more specific, achievable, measureble and enjoyable:

S – I will go for a walk/jog/run at least 5 days per week, for at least 20 minutes at a time

A – I struggle to jog/run for a sustained period at the moment, so I can start with brisk walking and gradually increase bursts of jogging/running into the routine; I don’t need to pay for a gym membership to go for a walk

M – I can use smart phone applications like ‘run keeper’ or ‘FitBit’ to track my activities and keep me accountable; I will be able to see my times and distances improving

E – I can go for walks with a friend and I will enjoy getting out of the house and seeing the scenery on new walks

Happy new year to all, and best wishes in achieving your goals for 2014!

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