With every new year comes a new opportunity to resolve to move ourselves closer to the person we want to be. Often times, though, we aim to high and set ourselves up for failure. The better bet is to set SMART goals.
S – Specific: Be specific about what you want to accomplish. Do not just say “I will lose weigh.” Rather, identifying one calorie rich part of your diet (soda, chocolate, chips) and set an intention to eliminate one serving per day for two weeks. If you succeed, build on that success, if it does not work out, let yourself be OK with it, learn from it, and adjust the goal. When setting these goals, it is often helpful to answer the Who, What, When, Why, and How that will need to happen to meet the goal.
M – Measurable: We all measure success differently. Chose a measure for your goal that makes sense. If you want to lose weight, perhaps the measure is one pound per week, perhaps it’s 100 less calories per day. If it is to sleep, perhaps it is one extra hour per night. But again, by specific and chose a measure that works for you.
A – Achievable: Resolving to lose 20 pounds in one month is likely to large a goal. Even under ideal conditions (which a pandemic is now), losing that much in the short a period of time is likely not realistic. More achievable would be 1 to 2 pounds per week, which is what is recommended as a safe pace.
R – Relevant: This is an easy one. If your goal is to lose weight, setting a sub-goal to increase professional attainment may be helpful, and a good goal, but has little to nothing to do with losing weight. Chose something that directly impacts weight, like food choices, meal schedules, or physical activity.
T – Time-Bound: Human beings work best when there are deadlines. Set realistic deadlines for each small goal. When changing habits, usually two weeks is a good place to start. If you can make a change stick for two weeks straight, you are more likely to stick with it long term. But you know yourself best, perhaps you need a month. Whatever it is, set a deadline and stick to it. If you meet your goal, great, if not, learn why not, adjust, and try again.