People generally take the coming of the new year as a chance to start fresh. Setting goals are good for getting refreshed and ready to tackle the challenges that are ahead of you. Studies have shown that people are more likely to stick with their goals when they are challenging, whichever way you go about achieving them.
It has been widely discussed how having a New Year’s Resolution can have a significant effect on your behavior. Resolutions made in a hurry will be more quickly forgotten than drafting resolutions with careful thinking. Setting unrealistic goals can lead to disappointment and discouragement if they are not met, but that does not mean you should lower your expectations.
The importance of goal setting
Goals are expressions of what you want to happen in your life. They might be long-term, mid-term, or short-term. When you have clear goals, you are more likely to get what you want. Goal setting helps you improve every day, gradually turning you into the person you want to be. This also gives you a list of manageable steps you can do to take your life from where it is now to where you want it to be in an efficient and effective manner. Effective goal setting not only helps you break down your larger goals into smaller, more achievable goals; it also encourages you to actually take action to achieve those goals.
Setting goals and putting the plan into action encourages you to take action to achieve them. There is also a reason to celebrate progress each time you reach one of your goals by setting small, specific goals. Goal setting helps you avoid distractions from trends and stay on track of your goal by reminding you of what you want out of your life.
By setting smaller goals, you will be able to plan work and family responsibilities on time; the same is true when trying to achieve your New Year’s Resolutions. Therefore, you should make a shortlist of solutions that you can implement in the coming year. The first thing to consider is your long-term goals and how each decision aligns with those goals.
Strategies to create effective goals
When making New Year’s Resolutions, many people end up with a long list of easy decisions without thinking deeply about their logic for each decision or where each decision will take them. This is easier to remember and implement if you focus on a solution or at least one area, such as making time to exercise or having healthier food choices under the umbrella of weight loss.
Instead of setting a huge goal with many steps, try to structure your decisions into smaller goals that you can reasonably achieve. Look at what you can do each week and set small goals instead of one, big, overarching goal. Rather than saving yourself a year of bad decisions, start with the right perspective and think critically about your goals. When you set big goals for the next year, make a clear plan for reaching those goals.
Below are some strategies for how to create an effective goal:
- The use of “I will” statements is recommended as they help the person with accountability and motivation to achieve their target.
- Use specific language such as “I will exercise for 30 minutes every day, five days a week” with clear and measurable outcomes.
- Construct your goal by using no more than four complete sentences per goal.
- Write down your goal and place it where you can always see it like on your refrigerator.
These tips can help you set effective goals in the right way. Learning to set good goals for the new year is essential. Effective research, wise planning, understanding your personal weaknesses, focusing on your strengths, and being with people who support you can lead to strategies for success in achieving your goals.
Work-life balance may appear to be impossible to achieve these days. Thanks to technology, people can reach out to anyone at any time of any day. Meanwhile, employees work longer hours and can even have a higher priority over other aspects of their life for fear of losing their job. As such, people are currently putting their wellbeing on the back burner to give way to their careers. However, it is important to create a productive work-life integration not only for one’s physical, emotional, and psychological wellbeing but also for professional success.
Here are some suggestions for creating a manageable work-life balance.
- Categorize daily tasks. You may have a lot of duties to complete each day, so divide them into four categories: urgent and important, important but not urgent, urgent but not important, and neither urgent nor important. This can lighten your job load and prevent you from becoming stranded in stressful circumstances.
- Create a schedule. There are multiple solutions available that you can utilize to create a schedule for yourself that range from a physical planner to a software solution. What is important is for you to determine each task you need to do for the day and when you need to do them. You can also include personal dates like holidays, birthday celebrations, and the like so you do not forget you are out of the office on certain days.
- Choose your career wisely. You do not have to enjoy every element of your career, but it should be interesting enough that you would not mind getting out of bed in the morning. Otherwise, if you hate what you do, you will not be happy; it can be detrimental to your overall wellbeing and you might find it tough to do the activities you enjoy outside of work. Whether it is caused by working in a toxic atmosphere, dealing with a toxic person, or simply doing a job that you dislike, if it is negatively affecting you, it may be a sign to look for a new career.
- Evaluate yourself at the end of the day. Consider what went well, what went wrong, and the way the matter was resolved. Keep in mind that countless companies are experiencing the same problems daily and do not forget to ask for help. You should also remember to take care of yourself and make time for the important things in life.
- Set boundaries. Consider using a separate computer or phone for work so that you can turn it off after work. If that is not possible, use different browsers, emails, or filters for work and personal platforms.
- Speak up. Do not suffer in silence if you are overwhelmed at work and it is causing you additional stress. Inform your boss or supervisor of your situation. Unworkable situations can usually be resolved, but it will require some positivity on your part. You can also consult a professional – such as a counselor, mental health worker, or psychologist – or simply talk to your loved ones to get emotional support.
Having a balance between your work and personal life will ultimately help you reach your deadlines and spend time with your family without worrying about work. Practicing this will help you manage your time and attention between your daily responsibilities without sacrificing your wellbeing.
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The coming of a New Year signals a fresh start and great timing to set goals not only for individuals but also for families. Creating a new year’s resolution may be a common practice for most people, but many are not familiar with doing it as a family.
While surveys on individuals include spending more time with family as one of their new year’s resolutions, none explicitly discuss this as a plan with their family nor have it as a goal to be achieved collectively with their family members.
In fact, having shared goals is a vital ingredient for a healthy relationship, and having them between family members is no exception. Similar to setting family goals, the idea of family resolutions is to get everyone involved in deciding what to improve and how to make a group effort to achieve them.
Some families may not schedule their resolutions, but for others, it is probably the only way amidst the busy life where everyone has different schedules and priorities. Joint resolutions may connect everyone in the family and support each other to stick to their promises for the year.
10 Family Resolution Ideas
Here are some ideas to include in your family’s new year’s resolution:
- Get unplugged. Go on a digital diet with your family by designating screen-free hours or days, such as no phones during dinner or video games during weekdays. Not only does it allow family members to have more time together, but it also promotes better physical and mental health.
- Prepare meals and eat healthier food. Cooking healthier food together can be a fun way to reach your personal diet goal and make the process more manageable. It will also be easier on your wallet because there would be no more monthly expenses wasted on unused ingredients.
- Spend more time in nature. Take your family outdoors and reap the benefits of spending time in a more natural environment for your health and wellbeing. You can do some activities together, such as riding a bike, playing a sport, or walking in a nearby park. This is also helpful to balance your time spent indoors due to the pandemic.
- Practice kindness. A small act of kindness can make someone’s day and can even become a pleasant surprise when it comes from someone we love. This can also serve as a way of expressing affection and caring. For example, taking on your partner’s chore, leaving a note of appreciation and compliment for siblings, or making breakfast for parents can go a long way.
- Start a weekly ritual. Plan out a schedule for a regular activity that you can do with the family, like having a movie or game night every week or planning a date night for the parents. These rituals create a space for things that matter to the family and build an emotional bond among family members.
- Go on family vacations. The experience of exploring new places and de-stressing through vacations can benefit everyone individually and as a family in many ways. Start the new year by planning family trips, so everyone has something to look forward to even after the holiday season.
- Save money together. Saving money is one of the most basic financial aspects that offer an abundance of benefits. Saving money together as a family for weekly activities or family trips also helps children develop healthy financial habits and build their own funds as they become adults.
- Volunteer as a family. Connect with new people and extend your family’s effort in practicing kindness to a bigger community. This can be done through family volunteering, such as preparing and serving meals to the homeless, planting trees with a local organization, and volunteering at a nursing home. It is also an excellent opportunity to help children develop essential traits like empathy and compassion.
- Keep a record of memories. Technology allows us to preserve family memories through photos, videos, or journals. Having a digital album to maintain with family can help preserve memories and allow members to reminisce and reflect on the past.
- Create a family vision board. Finally, all resolutions mentioned above can be recorded on a family vision board. By having a vision board of your family’s resolution for the new year, everyone can see how they are progressing towards their goal as a family. This can also act as a review of how each member is playing their role in the family.
A person’s environment has a profound impact on their moods, emotions, and stress levels. While it is typically associated with external or natural surroundings, the environment encompasses everything that surrounds you. This means that it also refers to built surroundings where people spend their time in.
Today, society can enjoy the protection and comfort of living in cities with urban infrastructures, however, this also means that the population is confined to built environments and has less contact with nature. As such, urban residents are in constant exposure to environmental stressors such as traffic, crowds, loud noises, thermal discomfort, and air pollution. Research shows that, especially in the urban context, environmental stressors can have adverse impacts on one’s mental health.
Given that your surroundings have an impact on your mental wellbeing, it is important to have an interaction with nature to mitigate stress as well as promote flourishing and resilience.
Connectedness with nature
Research reveals that engaging with nature can improve your physical health, including blood pressure, cortisol levels, and heart rate variability. Moreover, it can contribute to your emotional wellbeing by enhancing self-control and helping you feel more alive and empathic. Spending time in natural environments has also been found by numerous studies to be beneficial for generating positive emotions, recovering from stress, facilitating concentration, and improving moods.
However, exposure alone is not the whole picture when it comes to environmental wellbeing. Even though exposure to nature and connectedness with nature are both linked to positive health outcomes, connectedness refers to a deeper emotional attachment as a result of being in a natural environment, promoting positive feelings such as compassion, awe, gratitude, and mindfulness.
P. Wesley Schultz (2002) explains that being connected with nature involves the following components that respectively correspond to connectedness, caring, and commitment:
- Cognitive component – This refers to defining one’s self as being part of nature.
- Affective component – At this level, an emotional bond for nature is formed through caring for the environment.
- Behavioral component – This is when a person expresses their desire and commitment to protecting nature.
Research shows that having a stronger sense of connection to nature is linked to positive wellbeing in terms of living a more meaningful life and feeling more energetic and happier. People who feel connected with nature also tend to exhibit pro-environmental behaviors. So, it makes sense to take a closer look at how you can enhance your connection with nature and improve wellbeing. Aside from living in harmony with nature to promote one’s health and wellbeing, it can also lead to the betterment of the environment as a whole.
Spend more time in nature
It has been well-established that engaging in physical activities is a key to mental health. Outdoor activities in green spaces such as local parks, forests, or gardens can provide you with additional restorative benefits of nature. Exposure to forested settings also leads to a better stress response with lower cortisol levels, pulse rates, and blood pressure. Other natural environments such as aquatic environments and beaches have also been found to positively influence mental and emotional wellbeing.
Research suggests that people who spend at least 2 hours a week in natural environments are more likely to report mental health benefits than those who do not. In addition to cognitive and affective gains of interacting with nature settings in healthy adults, walking within forested areas has been found to improve moods by reducing repeated negative thoughts in individuals with depressive symptoms. Nature settings involve fascinating stimuli from activities such as practicing mindfulness as well as reflecting on and experiencing nature with all senses helps you relax and recharge.
Connect with nature through gardening
Gardening is another way to experience the healing power of nature. Gardening allows you to bring nature to your surroundings, your backyard, and even your balcony. While engaging with gardening, you can practice mindfulness to restore and recharge your mind by shifting your focus away from stressful thoughts.
In addition to its beneficial impacts on active lifestyles and mental wellbeing, community gardening projects can enhance social interaction as well. By engaging in gardening, you can also grow your own food including vegetables, fruit trees, and herbs. Doing so can also help you develop healthy eating habits.
With more people realizing the healing power of nature, therapeutic horticulture practices gain more attention. Therapeutic Horticulture is a designed process of intervention to cultivate benefits of plant-related activities and gardening to provide stress relief to people from a wide range of populations. Research suggests that horticultural activities increase relaxation and cheerfulness while reducing depression and anxiety levels.
Healthy personal environments: biophilic design
Apart from the natural environment, your personal environment has an impact on your mood and productivity. There are some steps you can take to improve your relationship with your personal space. By bringing bits of nature into your living environment, you can benefit from the restorative effects of nature and trigger positive emotional experiences.
As derived from the theory of biophilia, biophilic design can be considered as a set of applied methods to reconnect with nature in built environments to satisfy the innate need to affiliate with nature. To have direct experience of nature in your built environments, you can use indoor plants, natural light, water elements, and natural ventilation. Bringing images of nature into your space and using natural colors and materials also have a key role in biophilic design practices.
Studies have shown that designing your environments with natural elements makes you happier and inspired which can increase performance and reduce stress. Recent research found that having houseplants triggered positive emotional wellbeing during the lockdowns brought about by COVID-19. Meanwhile, people who had no indoor plants and little natural light in their personal environments reported a more frequent experience of negative emotions such as sadness and stress compared to those who have plants.
By taking these simple steps, you can develop your connection with nature and benefit from the restorative effects to recharge your mind and spirit, and recover from stress and exhaustion.
The beginning of the year is often considered as a chance for people to turn over a new leaf hoping to reinvent themselves. A reflection of last year’s activities and thoughts on what matters in the near future lead to creating New Year’s resolutions. However, this practice has seen a decline in recent years, with just 44% of U.S. adults planning to set a New Year’s resolution for 2022, compared to 50% in 2021.
Despite resolutions being made during the new year, a survey by Optavia saw that only 10% of U.S. adults who set New Year’s resolutions stick with it while 47% broke their resolutions within the first month. In fact, the second Friday of January is known as “Quitter’s Day” when people are most likely to give up their New Year’s resolutions. Some of the primary reasons behind this phenomenon are loss of motivation, not having a plan or the right support, and setting too many or overly ambitious goals.
Moreover, Dr. Judith Beck, president of the Beck Institute for Cognitive Behavior Therapy, stated that the reason why people fail to achieve their resolutions does not involve a lack of commitment. Instead, people tend to fall into traps when setting up their resolutions. The following are strategies that would help thoroughly implement New Year’s resolutions all year long.
Set approach-oriented goals
Losing weight is just one of the most common resolutions set every year and also the most frequently broken. This kind of resolution focuses on avoiding something; in this case, restraining from eating too much, avoiding sweets, and the like. Avoidance-oriented goals are associated with fewer positive thoughts and greater negative emotions. This relationship may explain the early abandonment of the resolution.
Meanwhile, approach-oriented goals are associated with greater positive emotions, thoughts, and self-evaluations. It helps people get closer to their desired outcome by adopting new habits or introducing something new. Compared to avoidance-oriented goals, approach-oriented goals are proven to be more effective according to an experiment led by Martin Oscarsson. (2020).
Changing behaviors is relatively easier than erasing them. Therefore, instead of setting avoidance-oriented goals like “stop eating sweets”, it is more recommended to rephrase it into an approach-oriented goal such as “eat more fruits and vegetables in place of sweets”. While both goals are set to help lose weight, the second one is more sustainable.
Resolutions can also be described as a range of positive outcomes. If the ultimate goal is to lose 60 pounds, then losing 25 pounds could be counted as the first successful outcome. Setting up positive outcomes towards the goal will help overcome all-or-nothing thinking that only has success or failure as the options. Having a range of outcomes will motivate people to keep trying instead of attacking themselves for not being “good enough” and giving up completely.
Self-confidence plays an important role in investing a full-fledged effort to implement New Year’s resolutions. As there are always internal and external obstacles, it is very possible to fail in achieving the goal. Failures could be very discouraging once they are perceived as definitive, leading to abandoning the endeavor altogether.
While setting the goal, it is important to think about possible obstacles that may arise during the implementation of the resolutions and how to resolve them. For example, to achieve the goal of exercising regularly to get in shape, one may purchase a gym membership and plan to use it twice a week. However, this plan can get disrupted by the new restriction rules in other areas due to COVID-19 or by the rise of the gym’s monthly rate. By anticipating such obstacles, one could prepare with alternatives such as investing in workout equipment or taking up a routine that does not cost as much, like running.
Practicing a dry run period could also take the pressure off on going through with the goal. It gives people permission to experience failure and re-analyze their resolutions – whether it is attainable or not, what can be learned from the failure, and what are the possible obstacles. Experiencing the challenge slowly before officially starting the planned resolution also helps to gradually build self-confidence.
In case of internal obstacles such as an unconscious resistance to change, getting support from others helps in striving for a behavioral change. By sharing goals with family and friends, they could offer encouragement and act as a reminder when signs of giving up appear. They might also come up with other solutions for the anticipated obstacles.
Every new year starts with all sorts of resolutions, but few people succeed at keeping them throughout the year. Failure to achieve these resolutions is frequently due to traps in setting their goals rather than lack of commitment. Therefore, it is important to adopt an approach-oriented goal and anticipate obstacles when setting New Year’s resolutions.