Happy New Year! Now is a great time for reflection, setting goals, and writing the wrong number on dates for at least a month or two. Today, we’re going to be focusing on setting goals. I sat down with Josh Twiest, a counselor here at CTC, to talk about New Year’s Resolutions, why they are important and what you can do to set healthy goals and stick to them.

What’s the point?

As cliche as it seems, setting a New Year’s Resolution is actually very healthy. “It creates a sense of hope,” says Josh, “while simultaneously giving us an opportunity to get out of an unhealthy rut that we might be in.” Setting goals for the new year forces us to take a look at ourselves, our lives and make changes for the better. That being said, it’s important to be smart about it.

No, really … be SMART

When setting goals for yourself, they should be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time based. Simply saying “I’m going to get better at guitar” is too vague. Instead, try something like “I’m going to practice for 20 minutes a day.” A tip from Josh is to make it incremental. Maybe your goal is to run five miles a day. That could be a lot to take on at once. Maybe start with running around the block and working your way up.

Tell EVERYONE!

“Speaking something into existence helps solidify it,” says Josh. Sharing your goals with people you trust makes things a little more real. They can help hold you accountable, give you encouragement, or even join you in your endeavor! If your goal is to get outside more, it might be easier to have a buddy to go on walks or hikes with. You can even get the whole family in on it!

Treat Yourself

Using positive reinforcement on yourself works wonders. Say your goal is to learn Spanish so you can travel to Mexico this summer. You can reward yourself with a piece of your favorite candy for every hour of studying you do. It can seem silly at first, but behavioral techniques like this do work. Your brain starts to associate the work with the treat.

Josh also suggests celebrating your victories by journaling them and reflecting on the hard work you’ve done.

Be Nice To Yourself

You’re going to mess up. There will be days where you skip your guitar practice. There will be days where you can’t quite run that mile. That’s okay. You’re human. The beautiful thing about setting goals is that you’re the one setting them. Be flexible with yourself and don’t be afraid to change things around to better suit you and your needs.

Remember, New Year’s resolutions are supposed to be fun and motivating. You have all year and then some to get to where you want to be. Be kind to yourself and take your time. From all of us here at CTC, Happy New Year and good luck! We believe in you.