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Start SMART with New Year's Goals

"The more specific you can be, the more you know the steps and the action you have to take to get there."

The new year brings a clean slate, along with the chance to breathe and reboot our priorities. 

Licensed mental health counselor and life coach, Dr. Jaime Kulaga says start SMART, which stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timebound.

“When you’re vague, you don’t really have a specific direction. So the more specific you can be, the more you know the steps and the action you have to take to get there." 

She says to start with short-term goals that you plan to attain throughout the new year.

“When you have quarterly goals, you’ll be more flexible and open-minded to pivot and change direction kind of at an instant if you need to, and in addition, you’ll be more accountable because you’re checking on your goals more frequently throughout the year.”

Dr. Jaime suggests a daily approach to attain short-term goals. She says consider purchasing a planner that includes time increments and include them in your to-do list each day. 

“In between tasks we’re going to have less downtime to do mindless things.” Dr. Jaime explains, “you’re maximizing all of your minutes throughout the day.”

A goal Dr. Jaime says everyone should add this year is to find inspiration.

“Inspiration and faith are tied to passion and creativity. When you lose your creativity and the passion for what you’re doing in life, you’re less likely to succeed,” she explains. 

Whether that means getting a faith-based book or downloading an app that promotes inspiration or meditation, she says it’s important to make that a priority. 

“Not only will you be more successful throughout the year because you’re just more positive in general, but you’re going to feel like a better, more passionate, inspired person on a whole at the end of the year.”

When it comes to tackling your bucket list, Dr. Jaime says the pandemic has likely revamped it, so think outside the box with this challenge: “I want you to make a list of everything that you want to do throughout the next month or quarter and things that would add happiness and joy to your life now,” she says. 

“Maybe doing a pop-up picnic, going to your son’s games a little bit more, going on a date night with your husband. Maybe you haven’t done that in a few years. So starting to find smaller bucket list things that you can add to your day-to-day life that will reinspire your happiness and joy.”