As the year is winding down, I (like many others) am beginning the process of looking over the year that was and weighing in on how things went. While I ideally would have set goals for myself for 2019, truthfully I am terrible on the follow-through and I ended up setting something more akin to an “intention.” For instance, over the last two years, I had set as a New Year’s resolution to 1.) stop being late for things, 2.) keep exercising, and 3.) start making better eye contact when talking to people.
In reality, I’m still late for everything (but at least I track it), I stopped exercising a while ago (I’m disheartened no one called me out about it on social media), and I still feel my eye contact at work is spotty at best.
Last year though, instead of creating a quarterly goal for myself, I set a grand focus or theme for the year. I had tried setting quarterly themes for myself a few years ago, but I found that I wasn’t making progress during the quarter through poor goal management on my part, so I simplified and decided to work on one thing for the year.
At the start of 2019, I decided I would place greater emphasis on my health. I kept it fairly broad in its application, but I did brainstorm a number of concrete areas I could work on, such as weight loss, lowering my blood pressure, regularly attending the gym, better nutrition.
I think the fact that I kept things open-ended was a main reason why I feel like I didn’t accomplish this focus as well as I had wanted to. Had I set specific goals with realistic action items, I might have made better progress.
That’s not to say I haven’t “lived healthier.” For instance, I have:
- experimented with intermittent fasting all throughout the year which did help to keep my overall weight regulated.
- finally got a family doctor after having been dropped from my doctor when she closed her practice a decade ago.
- went in for my first physical in a long time and had blood work done to check-in on how my body is doing.
- been weighing myself and measuring blood pressure more frequently, though still haphazardly.
- experimented with app-based meditation; I found the experience interesting and meriting further exploration, but I haven’t carved out the time to dedicate to it.
- while on my honeymoon I hiked up Mt. Vesuvio and did a roundtrip on the Path of the God hike (nearly 20km and 200 flights of stairs registered on my Fitbit for the day).
- began tracking things like my down/depressed days, headaches, and time with family and friends in addition to my sleep tracker.
- visited my optometrist for a check-up.
- two regular visits to the dentist.
- cut down on the amount of junk food I take in my lunches at work to essentially zero.
While these aren’t quantified victories, there are worthwhile achievements to celebrate. As I look to the new year, one lesson I can draw is that limiting my one thing for the year is a good way to focus my attention, but if I want to make any tangible progress (e.g. weight loss on the scale), I would still need to set proper SMART goals and create an action plan that requires me to carve out time intentionally.