How to Set a S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s Resolution

Article posted in: Lifestyle

According to some estimates, more than 40 percent of Americans commit to New Year’s resolutions. Actually, “commit” is a strong word considering research out of the University of Scranton suggests that a mere eight percent of resolution-setters actually achieve their goals.

So why are so many people falling short of their own expectations each year? Probably because they’re not setting SMART resolutions—and we don’t just mean intelligent. A goal-setting strategy, SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-bound (some organizations use “timely”). The thought is, that a good goal is one that meets all of these criteria. So if you want to make a resolution you’ll actually stick with this year, make sure it’s a SMART one by ask yourself the following questions:

Is it specific?
Instead of just committing to a goal, commit to the action it will take you to achieve it. For instance, don’t say you’re going to get more sleep. Instead, commit to hitting the sack with the lights off by 10:30 p.m. at least three nights every week. Don’t swear to streamline your sugar intake; commit to cutting back on two sodas a week. And certainly don’t just vow to lose weight this year. Instead, commit to joining a proven weight loss program, a gym, or something specific that will actually deliver results.

Is it measurable?
It’s not enough to say “I’ll start working out.” A resolution that vague is begging to be broken. Instead, choose goals that are quantifiable like “I will jog for 10 minutes two days a week in January.” Or “I will have one cup of veggies with every meal I eat for the next month.” That way, there will be no grey area when determining if you met your goal or not.

Is it attainable?
Set yourself up for success by choosing goals that are tailored to you—consider your current fitness ability, health status and personal obligations. Don’t commit to never eating dessert again if you’re a total sweet tooth. Instead, resolve to replace two desserts a week with fresh fruit. And don’t pledge to jog six miles a day if you have a bum knee. Settle on a stroll through your neighborhood before work four days a week.

Is it reasonable?
Don’t commit to losing 100 pounds in a month—you’ll set yourself up for both failure and disappointment. Choose a goal that is feasible like “I will strive to lose five to 10 pounds next month by joining Nutrisystem. Sure, they should require hard work, but your goals should be reachable if you’re willing to invest the time and energy. Once you achieve your goal, set your sights on a slightly bigger one!

Is it time-bound?

Once you’ve identified your short-term and long-term goals, set up a timeline. Select a specific start date along with check-in dates. Scan your calendar for events that might interfere with your efforts, and proactively plan how you’ll approach these situations.