It’s A New Year: Goals Can Help to Keep Us Stronger in Uncertain Times

A typical year usually brings with it a renewed enthusiasm for goal setting but 2021 may feel different for many people. In 2020, many saw dreams, careers, plans, and families crumble and yet, here we are still standing – even after the past year of unbelievable change and the new year still looking very uncertain.

Despite our ever-shifting world, goal setting can have great value and give a sense of self-determination and resolve to make positive choices in order to adapt to the various changes life brings.

One survey showed that more people are setting goals this year than last and they are also taking the goals more seriously. In over 66% of North Americans, health-related goals are the top priority, including self-care.

Once we have completed our goals, there is a sense of accomplishment – giving us a hit of the “feel good” hormone called dopamine. In addition, goals are an excellent distraction from thinking about all the things in the world that you have no control over and produce feelings of anxiety or depression.

This past year has allowed many people the opportunity for self-reflection and to review what is important. In doing so, this can help them to take action and set news goals that allow the potential for more contentment, less stress and greater productivity – even if it is in different ways from the past.

Ask yourself: what did I actually enjoy more than usual this past year? Did I learn any new skills or creative talents? Did I accomplish things I have been putting off forever? Did I get to spend more time with my family? So, if we really look, there are gifts even though many things we cherished are on hold.

Each of us individually will have to set the goals that matter to us because what mattered to us before may not hold the same significance now.

What I have learned from my own life and from my patients, is that everything can seem great in a person’s life, but if we (or a loved one) do not have our health, we are less able to appreciate all of the blessings we do have.

Perhaps this analogy will be helpful. Just like many of you, I have had some challenging times this year – I live alone – am in my mid 70s and many of the things that brought joy to my heart were restricted… like visiting grandchildren, extended family and friends. One day when I felt rather melancholic, I thought to myself – if Anne Frank can live in a closet for 671 days then I have got this! So now, when I start to feel sad or upset I say to myself “Anne, go back into your closet and be grateful for what you do have”.

Consider a personal goal to achieve stronger physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health so that you can enjoy all the good in your life AND also have the strength to get through the more challenging times.

Goal Setting for Greater Physical, Mental, Emotional and Spiritual Strength.

Food: Keep it Simple. Follow an eating program similar to the Mediterranean diet – fresh fruit, vegetables, nuts, seeds, fish, chicken, health fats and oils (avocado, olive, flax, etc). Eat organic when possible.

Foundation supplements include: A good multivitamin and mineral; omega-3; vitamin D. If fermented foods are not part of your regular diet then using a probiotic periodically is helpful.

Supplements that support calmness are very important in our world today. Some of these include: L-theanine, GABA, ashwagandha, magnesium and more. There are different combined formulas available – speak to staff at The Vitamin Shop.

WATER: Drink at least 1.5 litres of filtered water daily.

Exercise: It doesn’t take much – a minimum of 15 minutes a day of moderate-intensity exercise — only 8 minutes a day of vigorous-intensity exercise is required to reduce illness.

Prayer, meditation or simply a quiet contemplative walk in nature, can help us maintain our inner spiritual strength.

Gratitude Journal: Write just one sentence for each of five things you are grateful for every week. People who did this reported they were more optimistic, felt happier and reported fewer physical problems.

The Attitude of Gratitude – Remember to Say THANK YOU!

Research conducted at the University of California showed that the ‘attitude of gratitude’ has been linked to better health, sounder sleep, less anxiety and depression, higher long-term satisfaction with life and a kinder behavior towards others.

Wishing you all a simpler, more gentle year ahead.


Karen Jensen was in clinical practice for 25 years and although she is retired, she continues to write books and educate on the naturopathic approach to wellness. She is author or co-author of seven books, her most recent is Women’s Health Matters: The Influence of Gender on Disease.

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