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The Happiness Connection  

SMART 2020 resolutions

Even if you aren’t a fan of new year’s resolutions, there is a good chance that you are thinking about what you want 2020 to be like.

January seems to come with an innate desire for a fresh start.

Whether you call them goals or resolutions, setting an intention for the year ahead is helpful for all sorts of reasons, including mindfulness.

You may be a fan of the SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timely) goal principle. If you want to lose weight, state how much, by when, and choose an amount that you believe is doable.

There are many situations when this is the perfect strategy to use, especially in business. But let me give you an alternative approach as you enter the new year.

Rather than choosing very specific goals for 2020, try selecting a theme word.

Instead of saying you want to lose 20 pounds, decide to be guided by the word health.

I like this alternative method for setting an intention for the year because you aren’t attaching success to a specific outcome.

What if your regular fitness regime and healthy eating don’t result in a downward trend on your scales? Does that mean your resolution failed even though your clothes fit better?

How about if your decision to learn French gets thrown aside because you elect to get your master’s degree, or become a certified yoga instructor?

Your specific outcome didn’t happen, but you still took on a major new learning experience.

What if you had chosen the word learning instead of setting a specific goal?

I find this system more successful because it allows you to course correct throughout the year without stubbornly holding onto something that isn’t working, or getting discouraged and stopping completely.

Of course, just like SMART goals, choosing a word only works if you commit yourself to doing what it takes to turn your intention into reality.

For those of you who are interested, let me talk you through the steps.

Brainstorm some of the things you want to do, have, or accomplish in 2020.

Don’t stop to judge or evaluate them. Consider all aspects of your life, not just one. Your work, home, and personal lives intertwine and overlap to an extent that you will never be able to separate them completely.

Don’t rush this step. Take a few days to complete it if you need to.

Judge and evaluate the items on your list.

Choose two or three that are most important to you for the year ahead. You may find some of the things you wrote down can be combined.

Look for a central theme among your choices. Ideally, you will find one word that applies to all of them in some way.

For example, lose weight, get a new job, and take more time for yourself may fit under the umbrella theme of self-care, opportunities, or upgrade.

You want something that resonates with what you hope 2020 will hold for you.

If you’ve been considering a resolution to reach out to forty new leads a week, your word could be building, or expansion.

You can still set SMART goals for yourself, but when you evaluate your progress, be equally concerned about whether you are staying in alignment with your word.

I’ve used words like, action, fearless, courage, and expansion in the past. It doesn’t matter what you choose. The important consideration is that you feel aligned with it.

If you can’t find a central theme, choose the goal that is most important and work with that. You can always change your mind in the first few weeks if something better presents itself.

To keep myself from constantly changing my mind, I make Jan. 30 my cut-off date. At that point I try to stay committed.

Once you have your word, take time to explore it.

Look up the dictionary definition. Ask other people what it means to them. Think about what it means to you. Record your thoughts.

Use your word to help you shape your year.

Whenever you have a decision to make, consider whether your theme has any bearing. Does one choice support your theme more than the other?

For example, I think my word for 2020 is going to be spacious.

I am going to Arizona in a few months, but I’m not sure whether I am going to fly or drive. If I consider my word, driving may fit my theme for the year better.

That doesn’t mean I have to drive. Circumstances may make flying a better choice, but it is a consideration.

Set a plan to reflect and record regularly.

I mentioned that this approach is good for mindful living and it is. It relies on you constantly revisiting your word to assess whether you are making progress.

I like to assess on a weekly basis, but bi-weekly, or monthly may work better for you.

Journalling is my favourite way to track progress and course correct when necessary.

If you are trying to develop a habit of journalling, having a guide word can help. Use your theme word as a journal prompt.

  • What did I do today to support my theme?
  • How did my word affect the decision I made?
  • Did I choose a good word? Does it still align with what I want?
  • What evidence do I have that my word is guiding my year?
  • Who or what do I think of when I consider the word I chose?

Choosing a word, finding a journal and scheduling time to plan and reflect can help you move toward living more consciously and achieving the life you want.

May 2020 be your best year yet.



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About the Author

Reen Rose is an experienced, informative, and engaging speaker, author, and educator. She has worked for over three decades in the world of education, teaching children and adults in Canada and England.

Research shows that happy people are better leaders, more successful, and healthier than their unhappy counterparts, and yet so many people still believe that happiness is a result of their circumstances.

Happiness is a choice. Reen’s presentations and workshops are designed to help you become robustly happy. This is her term for happiness that can withstand challenge and change.

Reen blends research-based expertise, storytelling, humour, and practical strategies to both inform and inspire. She is a Myers Briggs certified practitioner, a Microsoft Office certified trainer and a qualified and experienced teacher.

Email Reen at [email protected]

Check out her websites at www.ReenRose.com, or www.ModellingHappiness.com



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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