Visualizing your course for 2013

2013_lgA lot of people take time off in late December. If you do, secure at least a few of those precious days off to devote to yourself and your well-being. A few moments spent assessing where you are—and where you want to be—can make a big difference when the new year arrives.

It helps to remember the “SMART” rule for setting the bar for things you can achieve in the year ahead. Your goals should be…

S: Specific
M: Measurable
A: Achievable
R: Realistic
T: Time-based

Say, for instance, you want better fitness for yourself—the kind that comes from regular exercise. Perhaps you’ve never been active before, but you want to make this essential habit of health part of your life. So you start SMART! Here are some examples

S: Specific

Instead of “I’m going to get in shape,” maybe you could say, “I am going to be able to walk a mile in 15 minutes by February 1, 2013.”

M: Measurable

Instead of “I’m going to walk regularly,” try something like “I am going to walk for 20 minutes, at least three days a week.”

A: Achievable

Can you really smoke 500 calories on the stair machine your first day in the gym? Maybe, but if you tire out (or worse—hurt yourself) it’s all too easy to decide exercising is too hard. Start with baby steps, and build on them. (Example: I am going to walk on the treadmill for 20 minutes, 3 days a week.)

R: Realistic

You can tell yourself, “I’m not going to miss a workout. Ever.” But get real: Kids gets sick, bosses call emergency meetings, and tires go flat. Instead, make yourself a promise you can keep, like: “Beginning January 2, 2013, I will go on the elliptical for 30 minutes, 5 days or more per week at my local gym. I will allow up to 2 days of rest per week.”

T: Time-based

“Someday” is not a word for health goals. Set a date, and write it on your calendar. Schedule those workouts, and honor your commitment to your body. (Example: On January 2, 2013, I will sign up to join my local neighborhood bowling team.)

Why shouldn’t 2013 be the year that you start seriously transforming your health, your attitude, and your financial security? Your new life starts when YOU say it does. Picture in your mind what your ideal life would look like. Jot down some visions for yourself in a new diary : How would you spend a typical day when your life is truly your own? Collect pictures from magazines that represent what you want for yourself, your family, and your future.

These exercises are more than just wishful thinking. They bring you joy and purpose, motivate your hard work, and help you make your dreams into plans.

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