New Year’s Resolution: Achieving It the SMART Way
With the New Year, folks all over the world are participating in the time-honored tradition of setting a New Year’s Resolution. Unfortunately for many people, those well-intentioned goals often fall on the back burner come February 1—if not sooner. While it can be difficult to change old patterns, those who stick to resolutions tend to share common traits of success. We’ve gathered a few of our favorites to help you make 2019 your year of victory.
First, many people who succeed in sticking to resolutions set SMART goals—SMART meaning specific, measurable, achievable/attainable, relevant/realistic, and time-bound. SMART goals can help keep you focused, accountable, and well-equipped with strategies for overcoming resistance—which increases your chances of resolution success.
- Specific means choosing a goal with a focus, i.e. “lose X number of pounds” instead of “get healthy.”
- Measurable means choosing a goal where you can measure results, i.e. “lose 30 pounds” instead of “lose weight.”
- Achievable/Attainable means setting a goal that is sustainable and within the realm of possibility, i.e. “lose 1-2 pounds per week” instead of “lose 30 pounds in 30 days.”
- Relevant/Realistic means setting motivating goals that are related to your overall larger goal, such as “get 30 minutes of exercise 5-6 days of the week” (as in the case of losing 30 pounds) instead of “make a 3 point shot.”
- Time-bound means having a date set for when you want to achieve your goal—which reduces procrastination, i.e. “lose 30 pounds by June 1” instead of “lose 30 pounds.”
Second, while SMART goals can help increase motivation, urgency, and specificity, it also helps to set goals that are positive and keep the focus on success rather than failure. One example would be “incorporate 2-3 servings of fruits/veggies per meal”—which is both positive and SMART—instead of “eat less sugar.” Also, choosing action steps based on activities you enjoy can also help you stick to your goals—for example, you might opt for trail running or hiking if you love being outdoors or taking a dance or yoga class on those cold winter mornings. And consistently measuring these positive results—such as logging how many different-colored fruits/veggies you eat per day or how many miles you run each week—can create a performance feedback loop that inspires and motivates you to keep going once you start seeing results.
Finally, the chances of reaching your New Year’s Resolution goal rises when you invite friends along for the ride. Sharing your goals with others increases the accountability factor for sticking to goals. Setting goals with friends can also make working towards your goals more enjoyable with the added bonus of spending time to reconnect with those close to you. Seeing your friends’ progress can also inspire you to push a little harder to get similar results—and your friends will let you know if you miss a joint workout or advise against that extra helping of cake after dinner together.
Ultimately, as with any goal, the deep desire for change has to come from within you—and your commitment to that change will be the biggest factor in your success. But by setting SMART goals that are focused on positive results, you will greatly improve your chances of achieving this year’s New Year’s Resolution—and making lasting changes for (new) years to come.
At Health IQ we’ve created and are consistently refining an engaging, self-driven health literacy platform that can support ongoing inspiration in your health journey. For more tips on how SMART goals can help you achieve big results, take our featured quiz.
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