New Year’s Resolutions made by well-meaning but, unfortunately, less than 10 percent of people who make resolutions feel that they successfully achieve them and only 45 percent last past six months. Self-improvement goals like lose weight, eat healthier, quit smoking, and life improvement rank in the top five more popular resolutions. So, what is that 10 percent doing that makes them successful at achieving their goals? What sets them apart?
The SMART approach is a guide for setting realistic goals and attaining them. It is an acronym that outlines a success focused strategy for goal setting:
Each step will bring you closer to achieving your goals and improve your health.
Vague, ambiguous goals can’t stand up to time and temptation. Get specific.
Say you want to lose weight. How much do you want to lose? How do you plan to accomplish it? What are your reasons for setting this goal? Whatever goal you are setting, ask why and get specific about the details.
If you set a goal that you can’t measure, how will you know when you reach it?
Any goal that you have can be measured in some way. Weight loss is measured in pounds, how your clothes fit, or how many inches you’ve lost. Eating healthy can be measured by what foods you incorporate into your diet, getting the junk food out of your pantry, and finding healthy recipes.
It helps to break your main goal into several smaller, attainable ones. It lets you see success very early and you keep seeing success which spurs your motivation, making you less likely to abandon your efforts.
Accountability is a great motivator for helping you stick to your goals. Keeping a journal has long been a great way to keep yourself accountable, but there are many website and software programs that you can use to track your efforts that may prove to be even more effective.
Partnering up with a buddy is also a great strategy. Choosing someone who has a goal similar to yours allows you to hold each other accountable. Plus, success is always better when you can share it with a friend.
Unrealistic or unattainable goals are motivation killers. Even goals that are too difficult or require high pressure effort over a long period of time can be difficult to stick to.
As you sit down to set your goals, think about not only what you want to achieve, but what that looks like in your life. In other words, consider your personality and lifestyle, structuring your goals to accommodate those factors.
If your goal is to lose weight, setting a goal of 30 pounds in 30 days is not only unrealistic, but unhealthy. On the other hand, setting a 2 pound per week loss is a goal that you will likely find to be much easier.
Creating a timeframe for meeting your goals gives your efforts structure which helps to keep you motivated. Make sure your timeframes are realistic; give yourself enough time.
If the constraints are too tight you could find that you veer off the path and even lose sight of your goals. Stay flexible, though. If you don’t reach a goal within a given timeframe, don’t be afraid to move it a little.
As long as you are moving forward, toward your goal you don’t need to limit yourself just because you didn’t complete it within the time you originally allotted. It’s about meeting your goals and making lasting changes that will affect your overall health for the better. Cut yourself some slack.