As we get ready to ring in the New Year, many of us will sit down and declare that we will lose weight, eat healthier, start exercising, be more patient, travel, or strive to be a better person. Making resolutions has become a tradition of sorts and, unfortunately, it has also become a tradition to not keep them. It’s not your fault though, many of us don’t know how to set S.M.A.R.T. goals for the new year. So you could be setting yourself up for failure right from the start.
This year, if you are going to set goals, then I recommend you follow these simple principles to help keep you on track to achieving them.
Specific – When making your goal, make sure you make it specific. Don’t just say you are going to lose weight. Write down how much weight you are going to lose. The goal should be well defined and easily understood if anyone else were to read it.
Measurable – Make sure your goal is able to be measured. That way you know when it has been achieved.
Attainable – Make sure you set a goal for yourself that is a slight challenge, but that is not out of reach of attaining. For example, if you set a goal to begin exercising 6 days a week, but your schedule and resources only allow for 4 days, then you might want to revise your goal.
Realistic – Similar to “attainable”, you want to set realistic goals. Setting a goal to run a half marathon by February when you have never ran in your life, is not a realistic goal. I’m all for dreaming big, but you don’t want to set yourself up for failure and being let down with a goal that is too far fetched.
Time based – Your goal should have a time period attached to it. If your goal is to lose weight, then you should have a set number of pounds you want to lose by a certain date. Putting a date with the goal helps keep you on track and also helps with measuring your progress. But remember to keep it in line with “attainable” and “realistic”.
Also, remember that goals can always be revised. If you set a goal that you thought was realistic, but didn’t end up being, then sit down and recreate it. Another tip to help keep you motivated and on track is to set smaller, short-term goals that lead up to your overall goal. Going back to the weightloss goal (since that is the most popular New Year’s resolution made), if you want to lose 50 pounds over the course of the upcoming year, then create smaller goals to get yourself there. For example, make a goal that you will lose 10 pounds over the next six weeks. After six weeks you can create another short term goal to keep you going. This way you stay motivated and break down your larger goal into several smaller ones.
Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? If so, how often do you keep them? Do you set S.M.A.R.T. goals?
I’m still in the process of creating my resolutions for the upcoming year. Right now I think one of mine is going to be keeping a gratitude journal. I would like to see myself writing in the journal at least 3 days per week in order to focus more on the positives in life rather than the negatives.
Happy goal-setting and Happy New Year!