Creating S.M.A.R.T. Goals for the New Year

We are once again at the beginning of a new year, which for many people means new resolutions and goals. You know the ones: lose weight, eat healthier, get out of debt, quit smoking, etc. They are common resolutions which seem to come up annually because they are also commonly broken. So how do you go about setting goals and resolutions that stick?

The answer lies in making your goal more than just a statement of something you want to do. One of the most popular methods to achieve this is to follow a plan called S.M.A.R.T. goals. Developed by George T. Doran in the early 80’s, the acronym has evolved and been slightly redefined over the years, but the main purpose remains the same: applying criteria to a goal to improve the chances of achieving it. Doran believed goals should be structured with the following elements:

S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic
T – Timely

For instance, let’s say your goal is one of those common ones listed above. They are all fairly broad statements. How do you work towards a goal when there are so few specifics? But if you apply the S.M.A.R.T. principles to it, the goal starts to take a clearer form:

S – Specific:  Your goal is defined by “What”, “How often” and even “Where.” For example, “I will lose 20 pounds by weight training three times per week and doing cardio twice a week at my local gym.”

M – Measurable: Your goal has ways to be measured by specific feedback to hold you accountable. “I will log my water intake and fruit and vegetable servings daily.”

A – Attainable: It is important to set goals which challenge you. Specifying that you want to save five cents each week is definitely attainable, but probably won’t require a great deal of effort. Conversely, deciding to set aside $500 every month for savings may put a strain on your finances which will make it impossible to maintain.

R – Realistic: Establish a timeframe for each step of your goal (if applicable) which can realistically be achieved. For example, “I will lose at least 1.5 pounds per week.”

T – Timely: Have a timeframe specified for the completion of your goal to stay motivated and accountable. “I will have completely quit smoking by May 1st.”

Utilizing S.M.A.R.T. goals, you will increase your odds of successfully keeping your resolution!