New Year, New Me, a New Way – 5 Tips for Making Goals

If you are anything like me, you probably already have a list of goals, plans, and lifestyle changes made for the coming year. It’s exciting to dream about how life will change and improve – how you will become a more amazing version of yourself. Very quickly though, the harsh reality of making so many goals or big changes will hit. As the year continues you start to realize that plans will be deviated from, goals will not be met, and lifestyle changes will be abandoned. I can be very hard on myself when this happens, and the added stress of feeling like a failure certainly doesn’t help. I don’t think the solution is to stop trying to improve when a new year starts, but rather, to be easier on ourselves when making out lists. And for me, trying to make things a little more ADHD friendly. So here are some tips I’m going to use myself for this coming year.

1. Break Goals into Smaller Chunks

I get overwhelmed easily. I also get defeated easily. So making goals for a whole year can be a bit much. I either try to complete the goal all at once at the beginning of the year, or I think I have lots of time and leave things too late to start. Over the past few years, I have had this problem with a weight loss goal. I had given myself the goal to lose 30 pounds – which every time I tried to complete quickly, making drastic changes that I couldn’t stick to. Then I would still get frustrated that I hadn’t lost 30 pounds a few months into the year.

This year, I made my goal a little smaller (to lose 20 pounds) and I have given myself monthly check points. It really doesn’t seem that bad to lose 1.67 pounds each month. That barely seems like anything! Even before starting, the goal doesn’t seem intimidating, and I don’t feel the need to rush to the end point.

2. Make Lifestyle Changes Gradually

So many people start the new year with a plan to workout daily, eat healthy, drink the water, improve sleep, etc. All of these can be good things, but making drastic changes can be hard on the body and hard to stick to. I have fallen prey to the junk food binge too many times after trying to cut ‘unhealthy’ things from my diet.

One of my big things is that I am a night-time snacker. Between 7 and 8pm I’m usually searching for something salty or sweet. Instead of cutting out these snacks all at once, I’m going to try to reduce my snacking by one night a week, each month, until I’m down to snacking two nights a week. I also plan on doing this with adding more veggies into my diet. I’m hoping that by doing this over time, my body will have time to adjust, so that these changes become the norm, rather than a challenge to stick to.

3. Leave Space for Tough Days

Anyone with ADHD will understand the struggles with executive function. Some days, it’s easy to do ALL the tasks and more, and others, it’s impossible to make a meal even when you are starving. I’ve learned the hard way that making a daily to-do list is setting myself up for failure. There will always be days that I can’t bring myself to do things, even things that I love doing! I was a big fan of creating monthly habit trackers with 15 tasks that I would colour in when I completed them every day. The first few days, I was usually ok, but once I started to have more and more days with missing coloured boxes, I would become frustrated and abandon my chart.

Instead of trying to do everything on a daily basis, I’m going to give myself weekly targets for things that I enjoy, but often don’t end up doing.
Reading : Read 5 chapters
Writing: Complete a piece of writing (chapter of book, story prompt, blog post etc.)
Video Game: Play for 2 hours
Be Creative: Do something creative (draw, crochet, play an instrument, etc.)
Social: One social interaction – either in person or online.
Giving myself weekly targets leaves space for days that I don’t feel like doing much. I could complete all of these in a day if I had the energy. I may choose to complete a task in one day, or spread it out over the week, but I have the freedom to decide what’s best, while still sticking to my goals.

4. Be Reasonable!

When I was in Grade 12, I had to write an essay for a scholarship on where I’d figured I would be in 10 years. 18 year-old me very confidently wrote about how, with my degree in Wildlife Biology behind me, I would have published many children’s books on animals as well as have my own Wildlife television show on the Discovery channel. Ahhh, delusions of grandeur, haha! When it comes down to it, we know what we are capable of, and in a society that tells us to ‘reach for the stars’, it can be very harmful for those of us that are really hard on ourselves.

Making achievable goals is so important when trying to make positive changes in your life. It is much more satisfying to reach a good goal, than it is to push yourself really hard and still not reach a goal that was too difficult. I used to be of the mindset that it was better to make big goals and work hard until they are reached. But the reality was that I would get frustrated and quit, because I knew I wouldn’t reach the goal. We are all incredibly capable of making positive changes in our lives, but what is achievable for one person will not be for another. Your list doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, or even be much of a list, to be what is right for you.

5. Give Yourself Grace

Even with taking all of these things into consideration, there will likely be goals not met, plans that didn’t work, and lifestyle changes that didn’t stick – and that’s ok! I think that the main thing to focus on is that you are working towards improving yourself in some way. Beating ourselves up for not reaching some arbitrary goal we set for ourselves is only going to hinder growth. So celebrate the small wins!

Set realistic goals, keep re-evaluating, and be consistent.

Venus Williams

What goals have you set for the coming year? What ways help you reach your goals? Let me know in the comments!

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