It’s that time of year again when many of us reflect with family and friends and begin to set goals for the new year. Often we want to be healthier by exercising more, eating better, or spending more quality time with our loved ones. If you’re like most people we often start working on these goals with a great deal of momentum only to find ourselves off track by February or March. It’s not that we aren’t motivated enough, or do not possess the ability to succeed, often our downfall falls within how we set our goals. By following these simple steps and setting SMART goals, your likelihood of success increases tremendously. Let’s break it down!
S – Specific – Set goals that are specific. We often say we want to be healthier but what does healthier look like specifically? Think about what you want to achieve. Maybe it is to eat one serving of vegetables at each evening meal, or quitting smoking, or exercising at a local gym. The more specific we can be about our goal, the greater our likelihood of success!
M – Measurable – Set goals that you can easily measure. Let’s take our exercising example since that’s a popular one at the beginning of the year. How many times do you want to exercise a week and for how long? Maybe you want to exercise 3x each week for at least 30 minutes each session. Try breaking down your goal into measurable pieces and again you’ll increase your success!
A – Attainable – Set goals that you know you can attain. This doesn’t mean we shouldn’t push ourselves but we often fall into the trap of setting unrealistic goals and then are disappointed by our lack of success. This often happens when people start new fad diets where you eliminate all carbs or sugars. While this can be a healthy goal, try setting a goal of minimizing items of food (sugar, carbs, etc.) while also having a cheat meal. Many nutritionists recommend eating a cheeseburger or having a slice of pizza once a week to allow yourself some comfort food while sticking to a more balanced dietary plan the rest of the week. Set a goal that pushes yourself and is also attainable and you will be more likely to succeed!
R – Realistic – Set goals that are realistic to achieve. People often want to start running in the new year to build community and a healthier self. While running a marathon may be realistic for some individuals, many of us who haven’t run or jogged in a long time may want to start with a goal of running a 5k and building from there. Many communities offer “couch to 5k” races where people support each other in their efforts to begin running and reach a goal of running a 5k within a few months. By setting realistic goals, we set ourselves up to succeed, which reinforces our motivation to keep going while feeling confident about our progress!
T – Time based – Set goals that are time based. Whether we want to eat healthier, exercise more, or spend more time with family, setting a time-based goal helps you achieved a certain level of success. Maybe you want to start walking/jogging for 15 minutes three times a week until you can walk/jog for 30 minutes. If you want to spend more time with your family you can start by spending half an hour each Sunday without devices and build toward an hour. Any time you set a time-based goal you set yourself up to succeed!
Set yourself up for success this new year by following SMART goals! Whether you want to improve your health, relationships, or community, being specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-based helps ensure you feel confident in your ability to reach your goals. So get out there, go for it, and become the version of yourself you’ve been wanting to become one step at a time!