Don’t be Dumb! Set SMART Goals for the New Year

I am not a fan of typical New Year’s Resolutions. Primarily because I have never known anyone who has successfully carried them out. The main reason for their lack of success is because these goals are too broad, too ambiguous, not realistic, and not measurable. If you are planning on setting resolutions for the New Year – or really anytime you are setting goals – make them SMART goals.

What I mean by that is they should be  Specific.  Measurable.  Attainable.  Relevant. and Time Sensitive.

Specific: Goals should be clear and unambiguous. Example: “I want to get in shape” is too broad.

Measurable: There should be some way to measure progress and success. Take our “I want to get in shape” example. How is that going to be measured?

Attainable: Goals should be realistic, without being at or below an easily reachable level. For instance, striving to run a sub 16 minute 5K is probably not going to happen…but striving to run a 30 minute 5K may be too easy (based upon your fitness level).

Relevant: It is important to choose goals that are 1) applicable to your life and 2) that you are truly invested in, since you will undoubtedly need to focus time, attention, and energy to achieving them. I.e. – “I want to go camping every weekend over the summer” is probably not a great goal if you live in the city without a car and hate the outdoors!

Time Sensitive: In order to accomplish goals it is important that you set deadlines/checkpoints/etc that the goals (or parts of them) be met by. By failing to include a time frame, it is too easy to simply push our goals off for tasks/obligations that may seem more pressing in the moment.

So now that we have gone over some of the basics of SMART goal setting, here are some examples that encompass all 5 letters.

  • I will improve my diet by consuming 1 extra serving of vegetables per day at least 5 days per week for the next 4 weeks.
  • I will participate in a 10K road race in April. I will follow training plan “xyz” in order to prepare myself.
  • I will limit myself to 1 sugar-sweetened beverage a day during the work week for the next 6 weeks.
  • I will commute to work/school on my bike at least 2 days per week for the next 8 weeks.

Once you have decided upon a goal (or 2 or 3) share them with a friend or family member. Often voicing them out loud to others holds you more accountable and you now have someone who will be checking in on your progress!

Do you set New Year’s Resolutions? If so (and if you are open to sharing) what are they for 2012?

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