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First, I want to take a moment to thank my family, my friends (both new and old), and my readers for their continuous support this year. I have been wanting to start a blog for a long time, but I never felt like I had the time or the guts to do it. But, with the support of my loved ones, I started this back in September and it has been such a fantastic experience so far. I have made new friends all over the country – both with readers and fellow food bloggers and renegades – and have learned more in 4 months than I have in the last 4 years! It’s very exciting and I am looking forward to expanding my readership, my knowledge and my friends in 2011. (And Nathan, honey, thank you for putting up with all my crazy recipes and incessant babbling about milk and cheese and Omega 3’s and grass-fed beef and for also being willing to try almost everything I’ve made! :))

As the new year approaches, I am spending time reflecting on 2010. For me, 2011 is going to be a year of change. I am taking a look back on 2010 and establishing plans for how I am going to make 2011 the best year yet.

Some may say that I am creating my “new year’s resolutions”, but I don’t like that phrase because I feel that there is a certain stigma attached to the phrase that almost sets us up for failure. The reason I feel this way is because it seems as though most people do a fantastic job adhering to their “new year’s resolutions” until about the middle of February and then those resolutions start falling by the wayside. So, over time, “new year’s resolutions” have almost become a joke to many people.

I am viewing 2011 as the start of a new decade and a new chapter in my life. I will be turning 30 in 2011, and as I leave my 20’s behind, it is time for me to start a new set of life goals. I am going to set goals and also establish a road-map for how I intend to achieve those goals. I have found, from personal experience and from talking with friends and family, that the best way to ensure you accomplish things in your life is to set realistic goals and then have a plan on how you intend to reach them. For each of these steps, I find that it is best to physically write them down. That way you have something to refer back to at a later date.

The Goal Setting Process

In order to set your goals and stick to them, try the following steps:

1. Set a goal. Make the goal realistic and attainable. That’s not to say that it can’t be challenging or difficult, but you have to make sure it is a realistic or else you will get frustrated, and potentially quit, trying to achieve it.

2. Make a road map. What avenues will you need to take in order to achieve your goal? What potential roadblocks will come up and how will you overcome those roadblocks?

3. Create a timeline. How long will it take you to achieve your goals? By creating a timeline, you will be able to better understand what you need to do in order to meet your goals, as well as how long you have to get there. It is also sometimes helpful to create little mini-goals within your timeline that will help keep you motivated along your journey.

4. Enlist your support network. I think this is one of the most important parts of obtaining your goals. Enlist the help of family and friends. Tell them what you want to achieve and how you plan to get there. This helps in several different ways. First, when you talk about your goals, there is a certain amount of accountability because now other people know what you’re working towards and that might help you stay motivated to achieve it. Second, having a support network allows you to have people to fall back on if you hit a tough roadblock, start losing your motivation, or begin getting frustrated. Third, it gives you someone to share your successes with!

5. Re-evaluate your goals regularly. How often you do this will depend on your own individual goals and preferences, but it is important to re-evaluate your goals at some point along the way and make any necessary adjustments to your road map and timeline. Our lives are constantly changing, so it’s important that our goals keep pace with our lives.

6. Reward yourself. Whatever you’re doing, make sure to reward yourself. You can do this in any way that works for you, but make sure you take the time to congratulate yourself and make yourself feel special when you hit your mark, whether it be a mini-goal or your major goal!

For 2011, some of my personal goals are:

1. Re-establish a regular exercise routine. I was doing really well up until Thanksgiving and then I started getting so busy that exercise seemed to fall by the wayside. But, I am going to make time for exercise and stick to it. I am also going to use a calendar, with little stickers to distinguish the days I am active. I am a very visual person, so I find that if I hang a calendar up and then put stickers (I use little foil stars) on the days I work out, I am more motivated to keep the calendar full.

2. Practice yoga regularly (at least twice a week). I know the benefits of regular yoga practice, yet I find it so difficult to practice regularly. My mother is a yoga instructor, so if anyone should be dedicated to yoga, it should be me! 2011 is the year to make her proud!

3. Eat more veggies. I don’t have any problem eating enough fruit, but I have to be really diligent to eat enough vegetables. My goal for 2011 is to have both myself, and my husband, eat more vegetables and strive to have two different veggies at both lunch and dinner.

4. De-clutter and de-stress. For those of you who know me well, you know that I am a very high-strung, OCD, worrywart. But, for 2011, I want to work on changing that. My husband and I are the perfect example of “opposites attract.” He has a very calm demeanor and he doesn’t let himself get caught up in the “what ifs”, unlike me! I really could take some lessons from him, so, my goal for 2011 is to change that and learn to let go of the worry and just let life happen. Roll with the punches so to say. Now, I know that this is much easier said than done, but I am going to enlist the help of close family and friends and I know that I can change my bad habits!

5. Spend more quality time with the dogs. Whether it be walking, hiking, training, or running around in the backyard, I will do more of it. I feel like I have been somewhat neglectful of their needs this year and they may have not received as many walks or training sessions as they need. That’s not to say that they have been neglected (trust me, they get plenty of food and lots of love), I just think I could have done better.

6. Create more art (and not be judgmental of my work). One of the projects I worked on during my vacation this last week is to get our basement cleaned up so that I can pull out the art supplies and paint whenever the mood strikes me. My goal is to seize those moments where the creativity comes to the surface and go release it on the canvas. With that, I am not going to let myself judge my art as critically as I have in the past. And, I won’t let my fear of not creating something perfect get the better of me.

What are your g0als for 2011 and how do you intend to reach them? What steps do you take to ensure that you stay on track and achieve the goals you work towards?

Image courtesy of stock.xchng and Isaac Esteban

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