A Psychologist’s Guide To Setting Achievable Goals in the New Year

Think of every new year as a blank page...


Nikolina Ilic |

After what’s undoubtedly been a rough couple of years for many of us, a new year marks the start of an exciting chapter. However, some could argue that we felt this way last year then were disappointed when COVID-19 lingered a lot longer than we had hoped. So how can we approach this new year in a better way, especially since it feels as though we’ve been a little disappointed in the past? Below, Lysn psychologist Nancy Sokarno gives her guide to approaching 2022 in the best way possible.

Set goals, not resolutions

Hands up if you’ve ever had a long list of New Year’s Resolutions then you get to the end of that year and realise you haven’t achieved hardly any?! Well, that’s because New Year’s Resolutions have the tendency to be big, lofty and vague dreams that can be a little tricky to action.

The antidote to this? Setting goals instead.

Goals are usually more specific and more actionable, which is what often makes them more effective when comparing to a ‘Resolution’. And while we’re on the topic of goals, there is a good way to set goals in a way that can help make them more achievable. These are called SMART goals, and they can be a great reminder of how to set ones that you might reach:

Specific (simple, sensible, significant).

Measurable (meaningful, motivating).

Achievable (agreed, attainable).

Relevant (reasonable, realistic, resourced and results-based).

Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).

Take a digital detox

If 2021 has left you feeling fatigued from the constant influx of information —thanks to the 24/7 news cycle and social media apps — you might be ready for a digital detox. Digital detoxing can allow you to reconnect with the present moment and get clear about your plans for the future.

With constant distractions, it can be hard to focus or know what truly needs your attention. Unfortunately, all that time spent staring at a screen can take you away from real life and can make you miss the important things. Time is better spent being in the present moment, or engaging in mindful activities such as exercise, cooking, or reading. In 2022, go offline and notice how mentally “online” you feel!

Be open-minded 

There’s a saying that goes something like ‘expectation is the root of all heartache’, and it could be wise to keep this phrase in the back of your mind going into 2022. Sure, it’s absolutely important to keep optimistic about the future, but you’ll want to be ready for anything and avoid having sky-high expectations.

Setting expectations is crucial when it comes to planning. However, if your expectations are high, this can lead to disappointments. While you shouldn’t eliminate expectations completely, try to prepare for all possible scenarios in your mind. Set an expectation about the best possible scenario, along with understanding that there is a chance things might not go ahead at all.

What 2020 and 2021 taught us is that we are all incredibly resilient, and there is a chance that we will need to continue flexing this muscle. Resilience is the very energy that fuels self-improvement and can help protect a person from various mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

While it’s important to have dreams, goals and expectations about the impending new year, we also need to be flexible, agile and amendable if things don’t go our way. Unfortunately, with the current climate there are still many things out of our control. So, beware of what you can control and mindful of what you can’t. Those things that are out of your control are just that, and can therefore lead to disappointment if we’ve got expectations for them to turn out otherwise. Keep an open mind!

Focus on work-life balance

If, in 2021, you found your life a little blurred when it came to work-life balance, try to regain some control in 2022. Unfortunately, with many of us working from home, it can feel as though boundaries have been crushed. In 2022, make work-life balance a focus. You can do this by setting up clear boundaries in your day where you allow yourself to do certain things for yourself again!

This could mean setting clear work hours most days — such as starting each day at 08h30 and finishing at 18h0 (no ifs or buts) — instead of working in your PJs as soon as you wake up. Allow yourself some ‘you’ time where you  indulge in your favourite pastime without distractions. If it helps, switch off your phone or put it on aeroplane mode so you can really switch off from work responsibilities.

Take a positive approach to mental health

I would love to see 2022 as the year that we all take a positive approach to mental wellness by treating mental health care in the same way that we treat our physical health. Schedule in sessions with a psychologist the same way you would a session with your fitness instructor or gym class. Talk to friends, family and loved ones in an honest way. Remind each other that we’ve just experienced a global health pandemic (which is still happening) and it’s ok if you, or someone close to you, need help getting through. Turn to your support networks or even a professional to help you navigate life’s trials and tribulations.

The article A Psychologists Guide To Approaching The New Year In The Best Way Possible appeared first on Women’s Health Australia.

READ MORE ON: Growth New Year New Year Goals New Year Resolutions Resilience Self-Improvement

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