FORT LEE, Va. – The start of the New Year is traditionally a time when people reflect on their lives and what changes they would like to make toward better health, prosperity, career satisfaction, relationships, etc.
Moments like these are important, according to behavioral health experts. Reflection and goal-setting can “declutter” the mind. It creates a sense of purpose and hope. It gets us out of ruts and stirs feelings of excitement over future possibilities.
However, taking the next step – turning thoughts into action and sustaining the effort for as long as it takes to achieve the goal – is where many tend to stumble or fail. In some cases, it could be attributed to the person giving up when the going got tough, but in a lot of other instances, it’s because the individual didn’t have a good game plan or set a mark on the wall that was too high to be attainable.
Goal-setting experts recommend short-range (0-6 months), mid-range (6 months to 2 years) and long-range (2-5 years) goals. Writing them down instead of keeping them in your head is important as well.
People should ask themselves the following questions to help define the right goals for the future. They are a starting point to get the creative juices flowing. Let your mind wander to access the full range of your future desires.
· What were my greatest achievements over the past year?
· What were my biggest disappointments over the past year?
· What did I learn about myself from my achievements and disappointments?
· How was I able to accomplish the things I did over the last year? Who and what helped?
· How did I limit myself over the past year? How could I avoid doing the same this year?
· What is my No. 1 focus this year?
Personal values figure heavily in goal setting. Are you work-oriented, volunteer-oriented, family oriented, partner-oriented, faith-oriented and/or friend-oriented? Most people are a little of all or most of these. How does your primary orientation affect your goals? Do you want to strengthen one area particularly important? In what give-and-take are you willing to engage to do so?
After you have written down your goals, circle the three or four absolute most important ones and then place that listing where you will see it daily or, at the least, weekly. It will serve as the catalyst needed to make positive changes in your life.
Expect setbacks and don’t allow them to scuttle your game plan. Put them into perspective. Did it happen because you weren’t trying? Probably not. When you accomplished other noteworthy things in your life, was it easy going every step of the way? Again, probably not. The goal is the grail you’re seeking. Reset your focus and carry on.
Many also find it helpful to learn from the examples set by others in the community who have reached the heights you want to achieve. Set up a time to talk to them so you can gain insight into how they reached success. Ultimately, the person could even be a mentor who invites you to reach back to them whenever advice is needed in the future.
Remember also, there are free resources available in the Fort Lee community that can give you a great head start through education, awareness and counseling. The following are just a few such resources:
· Healthy Living/Weight Loss: Army Wellness Center, 804-734-9925 (discussion with your healthcare provider first is strongly recommended).
· Improving Fitness: AWC and/or the exercise coaches at MacLaughlin, 804-765-3070, or the Strength Performance Center, 804-734-5979 (discussion with your healthcare provider first is highly encouraged).
· Better Relationships or Parenting: Family Life Chaplain, 804-734-7322; community chaplains, 804-734-6493; and/or the ACS Family Advocacy, 804-734-6381, or New Parent Support, 804-734-6388, programs.
· Building a Budget and Savings: ACS Financial Readiness Program, 804-734-6388.
· Quit Smoking or Drinking: Substance Use Disorder Clinic, 804-734-9143 or 734-9601 (Kenner also offers a tobacco cessation program).
Online resources include the Army and Air Force Exchange Service BE FIT Hub at publicaffairs-sme.com/Community/befit, the Defense Commissary Agency Healthy Living guide at www.commissaries.com/healthy-living, and Military Onesource with sections on family and relationships, financial planning, and health and wellness.