Welcome to 2013! If you’re like most Americans, you probably made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, get fit, quit a bad habit, volunteer, or advance your career. Did you know that 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions fall off the wagon by the end of February? …. 80%!
You don’t have to be one of these people. If you’re set on making 2013 the year where you stick to your guns, make sure your goals are realistic and SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound). This little mnemonic tool can apply to both your personal and professional objectives…and will help you stop riding the merry-go-round of misplaced goals that most people jump on year after year.
Simply saying, “I want to get in shape this year”, or “I want to eat less fast food” leaves far too much open for your brain’s interpretation. The less ambiguous, the more difficult it will be to talk yourself out of it. A goal that is specific will answer the following questions:
Who is involved?
What do I want to accomplish?
Where will I accomplish it?
WHY do I want to do this?
“I want to volunteer more time to the causes I care about”. Great! But when 2013 is over, will you look back and be satisfied with your achievements? How MUCH more time do you want to spend? How MUCH weight do you want to lose? I personally think that this criteria is the most crucial when it comes to making resolutions. If your goal isn’t measurable, you have no way of evaluating how successful you’ve been. It’s also critical if you want to experience the thrill of achievement.
So…if you want to eat healthier, make it more concrete. Say something like, “I plan to make meals at home using clean, whole foods 5 days each week”. If you want to lose weight, make it “My goal is to lose 20 lbs by this time next year”. Want to volunteer? Say, “I want to volunteer at XXX organization at least one day per week”.
You’ll be much more likely to stick to it, and feel far more accomplished when you do.
Don’t even bother with unattainable resolutions, or you’ll be off the train long before the snow melts. Make your goal achievable but difficult. If it is too easy, you won’t get as much satisfaction when you accomplish it.
This criteria is key. Create a goal that you actually CARE about – one that aligns with other, smaller goals in your life. Saying, “I want to eat 30 carrots a day for the next two weeks” may be specific, measurable, attainable, and time-bound…but does it really have any relevance? How much is it going to help you in the end? A goal that is relevant is one that will drive you forward. Make sure it aligns with other primary efforts in your life and that the end result is worthwhile.
Give your resolution a target date to help you stay on track.Without a deadline, your goal will inevitably end up overtaken by other life commitments and procrastination will ensue. Before you know, it will be New Year ’s Eve in 2013 and you’ll still be “planning” to accomplish what you set out to do a year ago. Ask yourself what you can do today, tomorrow, and next week to help achieve that specific goal by XXX date.
By keeping these criteria in mind, you’ll be far more likely to ring in 2014 as an even better version of your already rockin’ awesome self!
What about me?
I’ve been struggling to come up with a personal goal for the upcoming year…primarily because I’m afraid I won’t be able to accomplish it. But that’s the whole point, right? Continue to challenge yourself to achieve what you didn’t think possible. So, I’ve decided that my goal (more a goal than a resolution, really) is to complete an Olympic distance triathlon in 2013. As anyone who knows me is certainly aware, I’m a bad swimmer. A mile-long lake swim absolutely terrifies the bejeezus out of me. So I’ve already taken the first step to achieving my goal –I have enrolled in a 6-week swim conditioning course through the YWCA, starting next week!
I think I can I think I can….
What is your New Year’s resolution? Is it SMART?