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Mindfulness key to sustaining...

Mindfulness key to sustaining resolutions, achieving goals

By: Courtney Ingle - January 20, 2023

Resolutions are hard to stick to if the only idea in mind is the end goal.

Mid-January means two things: inconsistent Mississippi weather and for many, the acceptance that the list of New Year’s resolutions is once again remaining unresolved. 

Dr. Stephanie Duguid is a Mississippi-based leadership and success coach, motivational speaker and CEO of Do Good Leadership where she teaches classes for women to reach their goals. The principles, however, apply to everyone. 

“December 31st to January 1st, people try to hit the reset button,” said Duguid. “If you’re just focusing on the results and not how you get those results, you’ll only see the negatives in the way of that goal.” 

Some of the negatives one might encounter are discouragement, bad days, thrown-off routines, diet woes, stress and more. It is no secret that life happens to everyone, so Dr. Duguid recommends a different approach to New Year’s resolutions. 

“Instead, reflect and evaluate the entire year of 2022,” she said. “What worked? What didn’t? Approach with positivity.” 

The Mentality of Goal-Setting 

Resolutions are hard to stick to if the only idea in mind is the end goal. For example, many people focus on losing weight as a New Year’s Resolution, but they do not make a plan regarding how to achieve that weight loss.

“It can be overwhelming because you don’t see how to get there and the negative self-talk sets in,” said Dr. Duguid. “You have to develop that goal.” 

Instead of making a New Year’s resolution to run a 5k, research and build a plan that involves training for that 5k. How many times a week will you run? Will you run before or after work? Should you run alone or with a running group? 

Dr. Duguid added that goals have to be S.M.A.R.T. – specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. 

The goal must also be achievable, appropriate and realistic.

“If you plan to lose 25 pounds in three weeks to fit into a dress for a wedding, that’s not going to happen,” said Dr. Duguid. “Healthy weight loss is one-to-two pounds per week.”

Instead, the S.M.A.R.T. approach would view a weight loss goal this way: 

Specific– I want to lose 25 pounds in six months. 

Measurable– I’ll be 25 pounds lighter, clothes sizes will be smaller, and I’ll fit into “that” outfit. 

Achievable– Yes, with healthier eating habits and exercise, I could lose one-to-two pounds a week. 

Relevant– Yes, this is relevant to my health and livelihood.

Time-bound– Yes, I will achieve this in six months.

Having a SMART goal is nothing new. The acronym has been used for goal-setting in the business world since the 1980s thanks to the article “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management goals and objectives” by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham.

If this seems to be a little much to remember, then refer back to the 6 P’s commonly used in military training (7 if you had a more colorful authority figure):  Proper planning and preparation prevents poor performance. 

Two things stand between what goal you have in mind and actually seeing that goal come to fruition: a plan and your mindset. When trying to reach a goal, Dr. Duguid said one must evaluate three areas of their lives: habits, systems and processes, and the goal itself. 

“And if they don’t all support each other, that’s where you need to assess,” said Dr. Duguid. 

Mindset is everything 

The way you talk to yourself makes a difference when making goals and moving toward achieving them. Dr. Duguid used the example of smoking. 

“Shift your mindset from ‘I’m a smoker’ to ‘I’m a healthy individual who wants to put healthy air in my lungs.'” 

This method is touted by habits expert James Clear, author of Atomic Habits. Clear’s approach is to make identity-based habits. For example, instead of saying, “I want to run a 5k,” saying “I will be a runner,” is a more effective approach.  However, just saying, “I will be a runner,” won’t get you any closer to the finish line unless you actually believe it.

“The language you use,” said Dr. Duguid. “When you say the word ‘try’ you give yourself permission to fail. Words like ‘could,’ ‘would,’ and ‘should,’ are still uncertain. Make a statement in the present tense.” 

One of the biggest roadblocks in reaching your desired goal is negative self-talk. 

“If you focus on the positive, you see positive results,” Duguid added. “But it is easier to be positive for others.” 

Self-talk has to shift from the negative to the positive, and doing so requires a mindful approach. 

“Take a moment to talk to yourself in the mirror and give yourself a high-five,” said Dr. Duguid. “You’ll be amazed at the confidence.” 

This may sound silly at first, but this approach has worked for thousands around the world. This approach, called The High Five Habit, was created by motivational speaker Mel Robbins. She touts The High Five Habit on her Instagram, on her website, and has authored a best-selling book by the same name. 

Robbins claims that just five days of this high-fiving yourself would be life-changing for confidence. That confidence is what will be needed on the journey to reaching that goal. 

“Start to finish is not a straight line,” said Dr. Duguid. “If you hit a problem, find a solution and keep going.” 

Instead of focusing on hokey New Year’s resolutions that won’t make it past the end of January, set goals using the methods above and follow the routines you set in place. 

“You’re going to have resistance,” said Dr. Duguid. “But persistence will get you there.” 

About the Author(s)
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Courtney Ingle

Courtney Ingle is a freelance writer from Brandon, Mississippi. She has years of journalism experience writing for radio, print, and the web. She and her husband Jeremy have two children, Taylor and Jacob and they are members of Park Place Baptist Church in Pearl, Mississippi.