With a New Year upon us, many are inclined to set resolutions for the year ahead – many of which relate to health. To ensure that your goals (health or otherwise) are more realistic and successful, I wanted to share with you about ‘SMART’ goals. These goals, along with a worksheet, are elaborated in the Institute for Functional Medicine’s ‘Goal Setting for Behavior Change’ patient handout.
‘SMART’ stands for:
- Action-oriented (sometimes also referred to as ‘Achievable’ or ‘Attainable’)
- Realistic (sometimes also referred to as ‘Relevant/Results-Focused’)
- Timely (sometimes also referred to as ‘Time-Based’)
Let’s go over some examples:
Brigid Schulte, author of Overwhelmed: Work, Love, And Play When No One Has The Time, a book that I finally finished after a busy fall season, emphasizes that most people have a to-do list that is not realistic. She suggests that you write down your list of all that you think you need to tend to at the beginning of a week to just get it out of your head – and then to leave it be – keeping a more prioritized and realistic to-do list on a small sheet of paper. (Long lists contribute to the overwhelm for they seldom get completed, keep the mind busy trying to keep track of it all and erode one’s priorities and attention for the more important activities in a day/week.). Schulte also discusses a couple of tools/recommendations that may also be particularly helpful to you in re-tooling your routines to serve you (versus you ever enslaved to lists and demands of others):
- Write down what are priorities for you to keep your life healthy and enriched first on your daily/weekly schedule and then fill in work/other tasks that must be completed.
- The second is to work in pulses of 90 minutes (which syncs with your ultradian rhythm, a rhythm that occurs in a period of less than 24 hours (in contrast to the circadian rhythm, which I have written of in prior blog posts, occurs in a 24 hour cycle)). The ultradian rhythm governs a number of physiological processes, including brain wave frequency cycles (which oscillate in 90-120 minute cycles). As a result of this cycle, concentration and focus naturally decline after 90-120 minutes during waking hours. Taking breaks after 90 minutes can greatly increase productivity (and can provide a great time to stretch/move for those who sit the majority of their work day). You can read more about this cycle and how to practically incorporate it into your daily work/life in Drake Baer’s blog post for Fast Company cited below.
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Baer, D. (2013, June 19). Why You Need to Unplug Every 90 Minutes. Fast Company. Retrieved from www.fastcompany.com/3013188/unplug/why-you-need-to-unplug-every-90-minutes
Schulte, B. (2014). Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. New York, NY: Picador.