"at your library" in the north island eagle: be "smart": your library can help you keep your new year's resolutions

January is a time for fresh starts and new beginnings. But our best intentions can come back to bite us. How many of us have made grand plans in January, only to see them disappear by February? Change is hard – and personal habits are the hardest to change of all.

A trick that I've found helpful is to create "SMART" goals. SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Timely. SMART goals are:

Specific: What do you want to accomplish? "I want to eat healthier" is general and vague. That makes it difficult to achieve. "I want to eat more vegetables" is a bit better. "I will eat one serving of vegetables with dinner, three days per week" is even more specific – which makes it more achievable.

Measurable: How will you measure your progress? Track your progress in a journal, on a spreadsheet, or find an app for your phone.

Action-Oriented: What actions will you take to work towards your goal? What will you need to prepare in advance? Choose goals that you have control over and can change.

Realistic: Chose a goal you know you can achieve. This helps build confidence for future goals.

Timely: Set a start date and a target date. Give yourself a deadline.

You can find more information about goal-setting in several e-resources at the Vancouver Island Regional Library (VIRL).

Lynda.com: Open Lynda.com and type goal setting in the search. Many videos come up. Each is about four minutes long. Lynda.com videos are professionally made by people with expertise. They are sources you can trust.

Consumer Health Complete has many articles on goal-setting. Not all of them will be relevant, but it's a good place to start. Open Consumer Health Complete and type SMART Goals in the search.

On Hoopla, I found "Goal Setting: Discovering Your Gifts" and "Goal Setting For Faster Success", and "The Big Goals System: The Masters of Goal Setting on Achieving Success". These are all videos that you can download and watch on any device.

To find these and many other e-resources, visit the VIRL website. Go to virl.bc.ca > learn > all databases.

There are books on this topic, too. When I typed "goal setting" into the VIRL catalogue, I found: Make Anything Happen: A Creative Guide to Vision Boards, Goal Setting, and Achieving the Life of Your Dreams (ANF 153.8 LIN), and The 4 Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals (ANF 658.4092 MCC). (I'm not sure that "the life of your dreams" qualifies a SMART goal!)

Once you have a SMART goal, your library can help you succeed. Whatever you're trying to do, we have books on the topic. The most common library searches after New Year's are: healthy eating, exercise for beginners, getting out of debt, quitting smoking, drinking less alcohol, and feeling happier. None of these are simple or easy to do. But having the advice of experts can make it easier.

You know my favourite New Year's Resolution? Read more. In January and February, VIRL is hosting the Adult Winter Reading Club. For every book you read, you'll receive one entry in a prize draw. The more you read, the greater your chances of winning. Every VIRL branch will have a prize draw, and there's a grand prize for all of VIRL. Reading more – now that's a smart goal.

Happy New Year from the staff at your VIRL branches on the North Island! Hope we see you plenty this year.


Amy said...

Great column! My only "New Years resolution" (it just happened to coincide with January 2020) is to reduce the amount of added sugar in my diet (I love sweets and sweet things). I am on day two of a seven day plan set out by the NYTimes. We will see how it goes!

laura k said...

Thanks Amy!

That's a great goal, although a very short amount of time to reach it. Good luck :)

I also have a goal that weirdly coincides with the New Year. I'm getting back to an exercise program that I've drifted away from. I've become a cliche!

Amy said...

I think the idea behind the seven-day plan is to take a small step each one of the FIRST seven days to reduce sugar intake. So for example I am on day 2. Day 1 has you take added sugar out of breakfast---the biggest meal for added sugar. So you eat a no-grain breakfast. Day 2 you add another step---exchange a packaged snack food for a whole food---so fruit and nuts instead of a granola bar. Day 3 eliminates all beverages except water, coffee, tea. And so on. So it's not that you are done in seven days---it's just a gradual change in your diet to see that added sugar can be reduced (but not eliminated). I will let you know how it goes.

Good luck with exercise! I find that riding my bike while watching junk tv really helps make it palatable...

laura k said...

I hear what you're saying -- but it's not gradual. Most people will find that it won't help long-term. Even cutting out sugar from breakfast could take a week to do and then a month to get used to, before moving on to the next step.

It's a gimmick. Of course if it works for you, that's awesome. It won't for most people who habitually eat a lot of added sugar.

Amy said...

I figure it's worth a try. At a minimum it will make me think about what I am eating...

laura k said...