SMARTening up your new year's resolutions

With the new year in, some of you may have set yourself new year’s resolutions focusing on aspects of your life you’d like to change.  These may involve exercising more, eating well, saving money or quitting smoking.  These resolutions are often made with good intentions but statistics show that 90% of people fail in meeting their goals, leaving them feeling frustrated and disappointed.

In order to make these new year’s resolutions more attainable, it’s better to approach them as realistic goals rather than vision statements for the future. Rather than resolving to e.g. loose weight in the new year, set yourself reasonable and strongly worded goals e.g. I will aim to loose 5lbs by March by going to the gym with my friend, 3 times a week, walking more and reducing my calorie intake to 1500 calories.  This goal is different from a resolution because it is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time limited (SMART).  The SMART goal setting technique can help you in meeting your new year’s resolutions, this is what it involves:-

SMART goals are Specific

Set goals that are specific, including as much detail as possible about what you want to accomplish, who can help, where you will accomplish your goal and why you want to accomplish this goal.  The more specific you make your goal, the more powerful your plan will be in achieving it.  It will also help you in identifying progress and tracking setbacks.  

SMART goals are Measurable

If your goal is not measurable how will you know when you have achieved it? Set goals that specify what success looks like, this could be a number, an event or an experience.  In the example of loosing weight above, the goal would be accomplished if 5lbs was lost by March. In your plan include exactly how you will measure progress and how often.

SMART goals are Attainable

Ensure that your goals are not too far out of your reach.  For example if climbing the stairs leaves you out of breath and exhausted, it’s highly unlikely that you’ll be running a marathon the following week. It might be better to set yourself smaller goals on the way to the big one. Unrealistic and unattainable goals will frustrate you and lead to a negative attitude towards your efforts.  

SMART goals are Realistic

Ask yourself if your goal is achievable with the resources you have, is it the right time to undertake this goal and is this goal actually worthwhile for you.  For example, you may want to go to the gym 3 times a week, but do you have the time and the resources to pay for gym membership. Be honest with yourself.

SMART goals are Time Limited

Set yourself a reasonable time limit to achieve your goal.  While you want to avoid setting yourself a time limit that’s too far in the future that you loose focus, you also need to give yourself enough time to achieve your goal.

Setting goals can be challenging but using the SMART technique can help you stay motivated and achieve what you set out to accomplish.  If you find that you are unable to accomplish a particular step along the path to your goal, it may be that the step was too big or indeed was not SMART from the start.  See if you can reassess it and make it one that you can tackle.  Learning goal setting skills takes practice, don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t succeed first time round.

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