The ending of the year and beginning of a new one is a great time to evaluate what is working for you in you life and what isn’t, these ‘state of the union’ style conversations can be done with friends or internally but for me they help bookend my year and help in planning resolutions. I am a fan of making resolutions. What are they apart from personal goals, if the fact that they are timed to coincide with the ticking over of the calendar helps you focus, go for it. Generally, I set 3-4 overarching goals each year that I try to focus on, then each month break it down into something more manageable. I am going to try to share some thoughts on what works for me, and perhaps can help you. I had a mixed bag of achievements in 2014, but I’m ok with that, I will carry the unresolved resolutions forward to 2015 and add a few more in. I’m not alone in having my weight as an ongoing issue, thankfully it’s a maintainance thing, but it’s not something that goes away, there is normally a fitness goal in there somewhere and a few just for fun. 2014 ambitions were, in no order of importance 1) maintaining a static weight √ 2) becoming a whiskey drinker √- (even did a tasting course! though I do prefer a whiskey sour) 3) running a half marathon – crying injury here, but the ambition is still there 4) improving my finances I did get an online poker account but I don’t think that counts If I’m being truly honest with myself, and you dear reader, the reason my finances are only mildly healthier than last year is that it was a resolution that was generated for me rather than something that I truly wanted to change. Becoming the owner of a lovely but dilapidated house/hovel in east Dublin with rapid increase in my knowledge of renovation costs has infinitely sharpened my motivation no end. So learning-keep your goals personal to your own internal desires. If you aren’t thinking about changing, no one else is going to be able to make you. It is your choice. There are no right or wrong choices, just decisions and consequences. When forming goals, from the world of business (look – some financial knowledge!), goals should be SMART. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timed So if we take a common trend from many new years resolutions, ‘I want to get fit’ unspecific, vague, undefined and no end point. However if we change it to ‘I want to complete a 5 km in my home town during spring time’ It hits all our buttons. Specific – absolutely its walking/running a stated distance Measureable – you either complete or don’t complete the race Achievable – there are numerous plans that can help get you from your couch to 5km in 6-8 weeks Realistic- Hell yes! Timed – we have a definite end point Other hints tell people, they will help! Sharing goals makes them real, makes them public and makes the goal setter accountable. Ask for help from people you know who have done it before, they will be able give you a few pointers and they will (usually) be delighted that you asked. Write your SMART goals down. It helps make it real, it will help you articulate them. I am a list former, I like ticking things off, I put things in Excel documents and change the colour of them as I achieved –yes I am a total nerd. But self-knowledge is power, find out what works for you, how do you get satisfaction. Is there an app for that? Probably! if you are a smart phone user there are apps from everything to tracking your weight, calories counts, exercise progression, guided mediation to practically anything you can think off. Some are better than others so again ask. 21 days will make a new behaviour a habit, which means if you make it to the end of January you are there! Happy goals setting! Author: Joanne Dowds Joanne is a chartered physiotherapist, a yoga instructor, has an MSc in exercise physiology and most importantly is now a whiskey connoisseur!