Updated: Jan 4
Here we are January 1st, another new year. You know what that means, bring on the new year's resolutions. Each year for at least half of the U.S. the start of a new year marks the start of working towards new goals. The most common resolutions are related to weight lost, diet changes, general health improvement, and finances. Not everyone continues their efforts throughout the year, in fact by February many people have given up. Why do so many people start the year pumped up only to quit so soon?
Making big change sounds good, but without effective planning it's easy to lose motivation, feel defeated, and abandon ship. What can you do to lower the risk of these things happening? You can create S.M.A.R.T. goals! These are goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timed. Let's take a deeper dive into the meaning of all this.
When a goal is specific it is narrow and concise. Specific goals allow for more efficient planning and execution. When goals are broad, it's challenging to know how to plan, what to focus on and when. For example, if your goal is simply to lose weight, chances are you won't begin working towards this goal or you will start and restart only to feel like a failure over and over again. If instead you set a goal to lose 30 pounds, now you have a clear goal to focus on.
A measurable goal includes a way to assess and track your progress. This step is necessary for you to be aware of rather or not your approach is effective. If you discover you're not progressing at your desired rate, this empowers you to make alterations and improve your success rate.
Do you possess the knowledge, skill, and have access to resources necessary for you to accomplish the goal? Perform an honest, thorough assessment of yourself and your circumstances. If you do not have everything you need then research ways to access knowledge, people, and materials to make your goal attainable.
Create goals that align with your reality. Your goals should connect to your values and long-term objectives.
Placing a time limit on your goals creates an anticipated deadline.
Going back to our example of weight loss let's turn "I want to lose weight" into a S.M.A.R.T. goal.
I will lose 30lbs in six months by going to the gym 3 days each week. By including a number of pounds to lose the goal is now specific. By creating a deadline of six months the goal is now timed and we have also introduced a way to measure and track success. To lose 30lbs in six months, you would need to lose an average of five pounds each month. Therefore, at the close of each month you can perform a weigh in then decide if you have made proper changes to reach your big goal or if adjustments are necessary. Provided you can afford a gym membership and have access to a gym then this goal is attainable. If, for example, your long-term objective is to maintain a healthy weight, then deciding to lose 30 pounds in six months aligns with this objective.
Now you have a better understanding of how to create S.M.A.R.T. goals and the importance of this step. Get organized, stay motivated, and reach for the goals!