Change. Where do I start?

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As the year comes to a close many people are beginning to reflect on what sorts of things have happened for them during 2018 – the good, the bad, and the ugly. And as we begin to take inventory of the bad or beat up ourselves for what we didn't do, I want you to do what we all should do:, STOP.  I want to tell you, yes you, all of you: Let those go. Be gentle on yourself. The fact that you have a desire for personal growth is the foundation of what we call change. Change can be an empowering process, but also requires patience and a solid plan. More about this soon.  

“I should, I must, I have to” are what we call the deadly moans in therapy. They get us nowhere and are terrible language traps to de-motivate ourselves. Let's face it, those terms sound like anything we do will be a chore! How we talk to ourselves really impacts the outcome of anything we do. “I'd love to spend more time with my family, I want to feel healthy, I'd like to drink less alcohol so I can save that money for a trip” are examples of the motivating language that can lead us towards the change we really desire. 

So, you're ready and motivated to make some changes, great! Where to start? Goals! But just not any goals, SMART goals. SMART is an acronym/mnemonic that provides the structure you need to achieve the goals you set for yourself in a way that is both rewarding and motivating. 

S= specific 
M= measurable 
A= attainable 
R= relevant 
T= time bound 

The more specific the goal is, the easier it will be to achieve it. We often want to start with the big goals, but let's start with thesmall ones. Why? Because it's realistic. And when we complete our first goal, we feel proud of our accomplishment and in turn, that increases self-esteem and boosts our confidence to reach the next goal. Let's put this formula into an example:

Specific goal: To eat a healthy breakfast each morning. 

Measurable:How can we measure that we have eaten breakfast? Let us buy 7 bananas and 7 muffins, and as these are being eaten, there should be a lesser amount of food each day.

Attainable:Do we have the resources available to achieve our goal of eating breakfast? Assuming our hands are mobile, we can use our hands to eat breakfast. On a budget? Pick foods that are affordable.

Relevant:Are we are pursuing the most relevant goal? Breakfast is an important meal and a little food can stabilize our mood and energy in a good way. 

Time bound:We want to set a date for our goal to be accomplished. In this example, eating a banana and muffin daily allows for an immediate goal accomplishment. Providing a date helps monitor progress of goals. 

SMART goals can be applied to any behaviour you want to change such as addiction, weight loss, depression or anxiety management. Remember that setting and achieving goals is a process, and staying specific and realistic in your goals will help increase motivation and staying on track. If you find the goal is becoming challenging, review and revise – be more specific. Add a support network, be gentle with yourself and remind yourself that change is a process.

Next steps

Contact us for more information or to book an appointment!