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The Colonel Chronicle

The Colonel Chronicle

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What It Takes To Change (Your Habits)

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Almost everybody sets a New Year’s resolution. Whether you write down a goal for yourself, or keep a positive mindset, most people can agree the new year feels like a time of reflection and change. While we can charge into January feeling ready to conquer bad habits and start better ones, most of us burn out by February. The reason for this is that most people don’t actually know how to successfully set a goal and stick to it.

According to Psychology Today, the way most people set goals is not effective. Carlos Alós-Ferrer says that when you set vague goals, such as, “I want to read more,” your brain will not be receptive to it because there’s no way to measure that and it is therefore not doable. He says, “you are (metaphorically) talking to the wrong part of your brain. And using the wrong language.” It is better to set a goal that the more short-term focused part of your brain can see as doable.

The way to do this is to use the acronym SMART. The S stands for specific. This is the most important letter. Instead of saying, “I want to read more,” which is vague, you could say, “I want to read every night before bed.” This way, you don’t just have a goal in mind, but you know how you’re going to achieve it.

The M stands for measurable. You could keep a tally chart or make your calendar for the nights you read.

The A stands for achievable – is your goal actually doable? Based on your habits, your schedule, and your personal abilities, do you think you would be able to achieve your goal? If not, you’re bound to disappoint yourself. Try adjusting it to something that is still challenging, but not impossible.

The R stands for relevant. Why are you setting this goal for yourself? Ensure that it is important to you and valuable to your life.

Lastly, the T stands for Timely. Give yourself deadlines and do monthly check-ins where you assess what you’ve achieved and what more you want to achieve. The SMART method is a great method to be mindful about the goals you are setting. 

Another important component of goal setting and habit creation is understanding action triggers. Reflecting on what causes us to do certain things helps us examine those triggers in the moment and make a change. For example, if you’ve been struggling to read more because every time you get in bed it is your first instinct to pick up your phone, take note of that. Next time you get in bed, catch yourself about to reach for your phone, and reach for a book instead. Slowly but surely, your habits will start to change. New Year’s resolutions are doable – it’s all about the mindset!

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About the Contributor
Lila Tallagnon
Lila Tallagnon, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Hello! I’m Lila, and I’m a junior at South High. I’m the Arts and Entertainment editor of the Colonel Chronicle, and I often write pieces for the paper myself! I am fascinated by journalism because of its ability to educate and inspire communities. Along with the paper, I’m also a part of the marching band and a cappella club. Outside of school, I play piano and sing with a choir - I love music just as much as writing! One day I hope to pursue journalism as a career. 

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