New year, new (and SMARTer) resolutions

December 31, 2019
| Created by Harmons Dietitian

A promise of a fresh start is what makes the New Year so exciting. However, New Year’s resolutions often fall flat come February, leaving us feeling discouraged and disappointed. A fallen resolution is often a reflection of the resolution itself, rather than the person. Here are some tips for how to make a New Year’s resolution to last.

Make your goals SMART

Is your goal Specific?

“I will live life to the fullest.” While this is a worthwhile goal, it’s too vague to take action towards accomplishing. Start thinking about specific ways you can attain the end result you want. For instance, living your life to the fullest could mean working less, developing a new hobby, or even traveling to a different country. These are all things which may achieve the end result of living a full life, but are more specific, and therefore easier to know how to achieve.

Is your goal Measurable?

“I want to eat healthier”. This one is fairly specific, however, how will you measure it? Ask yourself: “How will I know I have accomplished the goal?” If the answer is not clear, ask yourself a few key questions; how often, how much, to what extent. A goal like “I want to eat three servings of fruits and vegetables per day” is measurable–you can track whether or not you have accomplished your goal.

Is your goal Attainable?

“I will get a promotion.” Trying to attain the unattainable will quickly put us on track to fall flat come February. Even if you work your hardest, there is no guarantee you will receive a promotion as there are just some things out of our control. While it is great to challenge ourselves, feeling dejected, frustrated, and hurt serves no purpose when we’re trying to make positive changes in our lives. A more attainable goal might look like setting milestones at work, or setting goals for a project you are working on. Setting and achieving attainable goals helps us feel accomplished and set more goals in the future.

Is your goal Realistic?

“I want to become an Olympic swimmer.” This goal is certainly specific, measurable, and in theory, attainable. However, it is not very realistic (for the majority of us). A more realistic goal might look like “I will beat my personal record in X race by X seconds.” When setting a realistic goal, consider not only what you are capable of doing, but what are you actually willing to do.  For instance, if you want to lose weight, but are not in a place to put in the work to do so, don’t make the goal yet. Pursue your goals based off what you will realistically do today. You can always set more challenging goals as you begin to understand what you’re able to achieve.

Is your goal Time-sensitive?

“I will buy a home.” Without a deadline, we can easily put off achieving the goals we make by telling ourselves we still have time. Creating mile markers is one method to keep us on track with our goals. If you want to become a home owner by the end of the year, maybe you start with saying you will save up X dollars by March, X dollars by June, and find X homes you are interested in by September. This way, you are held accountable throughout the process and avoid scrambling at the end of the year. Hitting those mile markers will even provide more motivation to keep going.

Try making your New Years Resolution SMART this time around. Setting goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-sensitive help outline the path to success.  

Tip: rather than trying to change your entire life in the month of January, choose one or two goals to focus on. This way you aren’t overwhelmed come February.

Cheers to the New Year!

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