Time for Reflection

As I was writing my to-do list for the week before I myself take a week of vacation, I was struck by how quickly this last semester passed by.  There were times when I thought it would never end, but now that it’s over, I wonder where the time has gone.  And I realize how much has changed over the last 12 months.  Assistantships have shifted, classes have come and gone, and about one week away from a full-fledged job search for the coming spring.

I don’t often find myself sitting still this time of year with holiday preparations, a much-needed deep cleaning of my apartment (because my poor house has been neglected all semester), and lots of sleep – I also force myself not to think and rather achieve a mild brain buzz as I zone out in front of the television for the next three weeks.  But I realize how important it is to sit quietly and reflect (without the t.v. on).  I need to examine how far I’ve come over the last months, and how much I hope to do in the next 12.

My reflection often takes the form of ridiculous New Year resolutions that I resolutely ignore after January 6th (I don’t know why, but that’s about the time I give up).  These include:

  • Sleep more (terrible – it should read: be better about managing time so I can sleep like a normal person)
  • Eat less (uh…less vegetables? less peanut butter?  what??! My body is self-sustaining from holiday junk food until the 6th when I go through a series of withdrawals from butter-laden baked goods and piles of creamy mashed potatoes and subsequently binge on a week’s worth of $5 hot-n-ready pizza from Little Caesars).
  • Talk more to old friends
  • Talk less to people who emotionally drain me
  • Exercise more (except when it’s too dark/cold/early/drafty/wintery to get up and do it – again, this all kicks in about 5 days into it).
  • Facebook less (this is easy to say when everyone is on vacation and not posting their moment-to-moment thoughts…but once that first assignment comes due, I can’t seem to log off!).
  • Volunteer more
  • Stress out less
  • Donate more money
  • Spend less money
  • Sing more
  • Swear less
  • Draw, paint, knit, create more
  • Procrastinate with homework deadlines less
  • Be more organized
  • Be less messy
  • Think more
  • Talk less
  • etc…etc…etc…

This year, I resolve to make attainable goals.  I had a supervisor show me SMART goals once and I’ve come back to them time and time again.

First, be Specific: What is it I want to accomplish exactly?
I will participate in a 5K.

Next, make it Measurable: How am I hoping to accomplish my goal?
I will go to the track at Lied Rec 3 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, and Friday) and participate in a couch to 5K program.  And I’ll find a buddy.

It needs to be Attainable: Don’t tell yourself you’ll lose 30 pounds in a month – not only will that be nearly impossible, if it does happen, it will be extremely unhealthy.
I will finish a 5K.

Make it Relevant and Rigorous: If you set the bar too low for yourself, there will be no motivation to achieve it.  Challenge yourself – why else would you set a goal?
I will finish a 5K in 42 minutes or less (don’t judge, I haven’t run in over a year!).

Finally, give yourself a Timeline.  If there’s no deadline to reach your goal, you can put it off forever.
I will register for a 5K in April and run it.  After that 5K, I will choose another in July and register for it (new goal).

By giving yourself a SMART goal, you create an action plan to reach it.  Set several goals for yourselffour to five goals keeps your mind engaged.  And the goals don’t have to be outrageous – you can write goals down for things you already do.  For example: if you, unlike me, are a runner, a goal for you could be to cut time from your mile or add miles to your daily run.  Or if you are in a club, set a goal to run for office in the spring.

The New Year is a great time to think back on what you’ve accomplished.  It’s also a great time to think forward.  But don’t spend too much time thinking over break!  Turn into a t.v. zombie for at least a day or, even better, get lost in a book for a few days.

Enjoy a safe and fun winter break!

Liz Steinborn eas123@iastate.edu


About Margaret Sloss Women's Center - ISU

The Margaret Sloss Women's Center promotes equity on the Iowa State University campus. Through a feminist lens, the center advocates for individuals and groups; provides support, referrals, community and programming; and maintains a safe space in the Sloss House.

Posted on December 20, 2010, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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