Originally featured on Sipping Sunshine as New Year, New Me? Not Really January 22, 2020
It is January and it is the season for the age-old mantra: new year, new me. At the end of every year, we exclaim how in the new year we are going to be different by implementing and/or taking away a host of new things. We look to reinvent ourselves. Instead, the new year should be used as a time to continue with the changes we’ve made in previous years, changes that are tried and true.
I’m a believer in baby steps because oftentimes we psych ourselves out when we take major leaps with no plan. I have two personal goals this year with my health and finances that I plan to achieve with a plan.
Goal #1: Grade A, Not Lean
I’m fat and have been my entire life. At 19, I started experiencing lesions in my underarms. Months later I was diagnosed with hidradenitis suppurativa (HS), but that was it. I was told to take antibiotics and lose weight. The symptoms would clear up, but it would also come back. Little did I know it would not only come back, but eventually spread. Over the years, the pain had grown unbearable. Some days it was hard for me to sleep. In 2019, I did deeper research on HS because I was tired of living in pain. I started to recognize that eating certain meals would cause swelling within hours. I later realized it was everything I was eating. From certain grains to vegetables to seasonings, literally everything I like was inflaming my body.
I had to change what I ate and the way I ate. So, over the course of seven or eight months I removed certain foods from my diet. I started with certain vegetables and seasonings and noticed an immediate improvement. Then it was white rice and anything with rice starch or flour. To now, where I’ve removed white/enriched wheat flour. It has forced me to cook and try new things because most packaged food consists of these items. It has been a long process; however, it has prepared me in setting my new goals for the new year.
For 2020, I am setting a goal to incorporate exercising regularly. If I could start with regularly doing the recommended 30 minutes a day, I will have it in the bag. My ultimate goal is to lose weight, but I find it more valuable to focus on the food I consume and getting into the swing of physical activity. If I don’t have the right mindset or plan in place, whatever I do lose can come back plus some.
Goal #2: C.R.E.A.M.
Now, my relationship with money has never really been the best. I either hoard or spend until my last. I’m sure it has to do with growing up poor and with a family who didn’t teach me about managing money. From the outside, people thought we had money when in reality we just had more than them, but were still poor. My mother lost her job while I was in middle school and wasn’t able to get another one until I was in high school. Public assistance and food banks were a saving grace during that time. It freed up money that could be spent on necessities and my unnecessary need for money because I spent my weekly lunch allowance in two days.
I didn’t understand how poor we were because that wasn’t something shared with “children” or spoken about around me. I just picked up on tidbits here and there. As I got older and began getting money for my grades, I sort of overdid it. I knew how to spend a lot, but when I got close to having no money, I knew how to make it stretch. This process of overspending and making my last stretch has lasted until now. I finally got a “big girl” job and started to save. Before my first day, I knew I needed to save as much as I could because my student loan providers were going to come knocking for their cut. I wanted to ensure I had a little cushion in the event they took my whole check.
The “fear” of my whole check going to paying off my student loan debt, though very valid and real, it isn’t what eventually happened. However, it has prepared me to save like crazy by setting a high (but manageable) financial goal for 2020.
How Does This Help Me?
Well, I hope my stories serve as a guide and encourages you to pace yourself and your goals. Far too often we create these big goals, but later never accomplish them or get discouraged along the way. It is okay to have big goals, but it is greater to break them down into smaller goals, maybe even SMART goals.
Here’s my breakdown:
For my health goal, overall, I want to be healthier and experience no pain from my condition. In order to do that, I must: a) eat no foods that trigger symptoms and b) lose weight. Finding which foods triggered my symptoms was a long process and now, I must lose weight. Losing weight as a SMART goal would look like: I will lose 4 pounds per month by the end of 2020. See, it is Specific in what I want to do. My goal is Measurable in the number of pounds I want to lose per month. It is Achievable and Realistic because it coincides with the CDC’s weight lost recommendation. It is Timely because there is an endpoint.
As with my financial goal, I want to be more financially stable and build my savings. Financial stability as a SMART goal would look like: I will save $10K by the end of 2020. An even SMARTer goal is: I will save $834 per month until December 2020. Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely.
What Do I Have To Do?
To kick-start your SMART goals, it is important to acknowledge your limitations. By doing so, you create an environment for manageable expectations. The best way to write out a SMART goal is to first have a goal. It can be as broad as you want. The next step is to go letter by letter (S.M.A.R.T.) to figure out what it is you really want to accomplish. Below are some questions you should ask yourself in each step of creating your own SMART goals with an example:
I want to write.
Specific – Define your goal.
I want to write a romantic screenplay.
Measurable – What is the quantity?
I want to write one romantic screenplay.
Achievable – Do you have the resources to achieve your goal?
Yes, because I have the willingness and eagerness to write, and I have the tools (laptop, cellphone, tablet, notebook) to support me in that effort.
Realistic – Are you in alignment with your goal? Or are you doing something outside of your strengths?
I’ve written several long-form pieces over the years, so it is not outside of my wheelhouse.
Timely – What is the deadline?
I want to write one romantic screenplay by December 2020.
You now have a SMART goal.
It’s January 2020. What are your goals for the year?