When choosing New Years resolutions, people often go with the tried-and-true: lose weight, quit smoking, save money. The reason so many people fail at their resolutions is that they haven’t framed them as SMART Goals. If you haven’t seen it, the acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for:
Without these five attributes, a resolution is just a daydream. So how do you re-frame your resolutions to make them SMART?
Specific – Far too many resolutions are phrased something like “I will lose weight”, “I will get fit” or “I will eat healthier”. Define your terms. Try “I will lose fat”, “I will quit smoking”, or “I will completely eliminate soda from my diet”.
Measurable – Goes right along with the first attribute. Choose something with metrics you can actually measure. “I will decrease my bodyfat percentage by three percentage points” is something you can track and measure.
Attainable – a goal can be short-, medium-, or long-term, and can be as tough as you care to make it, but should always be something that you can achieve. If you’re willing to put in the work to climb Mt. Everest or get to single-digit bodyfat percentages, go to it! But don’t set a goal that does not fit into your life. A 5’ 8” 43 year old office worker should think twice before deciding to become the next power forward for the Denver Nuggets.
Relevant – Pick something meaningful for you. Maybe the doctor or the BMI charts said you should lose 10 lbs (or 20, or 100), but if you can’t make yourself care for your own reasons, you won’t stick with it. Think of a goal that will improve your life in a tangible way and remind yourself of it when you’re tempted to slip. How would losing weight directly give you a better life? Or maybe you’ve started a sport like soccer or CrossFit, but would enjoy it more if you could run faster or do more pullups. Or perhaps you want to be able to take part in skiing Mary Jane, snowshoeing Rocky Mountain National Park, or hiking Long’s Peak with your spouse or kids. Find something that matters you you.
Time-bound – The final thing to consider with a SMART goal is setting a time on it. This can either be a completion date (the first day of spring, or your birthday, or the last day of 2013), or having your goal actually be an event on a particular date, such as running the Bolder Boulder on Memorial Day. The main thing to remember for setting a time to completion is that you don’t get to give up on the goal if you don’t make it by your deadline!
New Year’s resolutions can be a great motivator to get you moving toward your goals. By using SMART attributes, you can give yourself the leverage you need to ensure you reach them!