Create and achieve New Year’s resolutions with the SMART approach

Image for post
Image for post

January 1st! There it is, the big day when millions of us will become resolutionnaries and make New Year’s resolutions. Reflecting back over the past year, we seem to pass judgment on ourselves and vow to improve come next year, starting on January 1. We vow to change ourselves for the good and for the better. Many of us will choose “weight loss” as our goal, “get into shape” or another classic: “eat healthy.” We write a list of resolutions that are unlikely to last the month and end up creating a prescription for failure. This year, why not try the S.M.A.R.T. approach and finally start your path to resolution success.

Print the list and put it on your desk where it will serve as a reminder of the goals you are working on. If you find yourself ignoring it, move it around the house so that it stays fresh in your mind.

Use the S.M.A.R.T. method for goal setting, (an acronym for the 5 steps of goal setting:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Time-based goals

This is one of the most effective tools used by high achievers to reach their goals — realistically and consistently.

Do

  • be specific and focused
  • set measurable goals
  • create attainable goals
  • make your goals relevant
  • give your goals a time frame

Don’t

  • be vague and unclear with your goals
  • create immeasurable goals
  • create unattainable goals
  • make your goals irrelevant
  • forget to give your goals a time frame

Do

Do be specific and focused

Make your goal focused and well defined. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general vague goal. For example, there is a difference between saying, “I want to lose weight” and “I want to lose 30 pounds.” Or a vague goal: ‘’ Own a home.” Specific:’’ Put 50% of income into savings account for the next 12 months and talk to a realtor. The more specific a goal is, the more you can find ways of reaching your target.

Know what is required and what sacrifices will be part of the process. Identify them. Example goal: run 3 days per week for 45 minutes instead of watch television for 45 minutes. Know why you are setting this goal. Jot down the specific reasons and benefits of accomplishing this goal. Example: running will help me lose the 30 pounds so I can fit into my wedding dress.

Do set measurable goals

When you set a goal to lose 30 pounds, you can measure your progress as you decrease your weight from 30 pounds, down to 25, down to 20, and so on. This will help you see progress and motivate you to keep pushing forward. Have a concrete set of criteria for measuring progress.

Have measuring tools (scale or savings account) for measuring outcomes. Know that a goal without a measurable outcome is like a sports competition without a scoreboard. Put concrete numbers in your goals to know if you’re falling behind or if you’re on track.

Set a daily reminder to track and measure your progress. Smartphones and computers are easy to use as reminders. Keep a journal, put up a bulletin at the office, use your smartphone to download a tracking app — these are all tangible ways to track your development.

Do create attainable goals

Make the goal achievable. Draft realistic goals. Based on the present restrictions such as your schedule, workload, and knowledge, do you believe you can attain the goal you set? If not, then set a different goal, one that is attainable for you in the present. For example: If you are 30 pounds overweight and haven’t exercised in 10 years, it’d be a pretty unrealistic goal to run a triathlon with 2 months of training. So set a goal you have a realistic chance of achieving.

Ask yourself the following questions: are you prepared to make the commitment to reach your goal? Are you willing to alter or at least tweak various aspects your life? Is there a more achievable goal you are willing to work for?

Do make your goals relevant

Make the goal relevant to your life now. For example if your weight-loss plan includes a 45 minute bike ride four days a week, but you don’t have a bike choose a different goal or a different course to reach your goal.

Do give your goals a time frame

Set a time frame for your goal. Goals must be time-bound and have a deadline or a date for completion. Setting a deadline reinforces the seriousness of the goal in your mind. A date for completion motivates you to take action. Without a timeline, there is no internal pressure to achieve the goal and it’s likely to put in the back burner.

Think of your goal like a work deadline-it’s urgent you finish by the deadline. For example: If you want to save $1,000 when do you want to save it by? “Someday” won’t work. But if you anchor it within a timeframe (example: save $1,000 in 12–18 months), then you’ve set your mind into motion to begin working on the goal. Keep track milestones along the way.

Don’t

Do not be vague and unclear with your goals

A vague goal has less of a chance of being accomplished than a specific goal. A vague example: get in shape for the summer. But a specific goal: Join a hot yoga studio and practice 4 times a week over the next 3 months

Do not create immeasurable goals

When goals are measurable, progress can be tracked as you head towards your goal. Using our 30-pound weight loss goal from above: establishing checkpoints along the way, record where you are at these points. Tracking progress using weight (30 pounds down to 25) or in blocks of time (down 5 pounds at 1 month mark) and so on. Recording progress helps you see progress and motivates you to keep pushing onward. Don’t forget to use tools to measure (scales or savings account balance, etc.).

Do not create unattainable goals

Keep in mind your schedule, workload, budget limits and knowledge when creating the goal. For example: don’t set to run a marathon in two months if you haven’t run in two years! Ask yourself the following questions: are you prepared to make the commitment to reach your goal? Are you willing to alter or at least tweak various aspects your life? Is there a more achievable goal you are willing to work for? By asking these questions, you can avoid setting unattainable goals.

Do not make your goals irrelevant

Make the goal relevant to your life now. For example if your weight-loss plan includes a 45 minute bike ride four days a week, but you don’t have a bike choose a different goal or a different course to reach your goal.

Do not forget to give your goals a time frame

Remember goals must be time-sensitive much like a work deadline with a date for completion. Setting a deadline reinforces the seriousness of the work and your commitment to the goal. When your boss gives you deadlines for work projects, would you procrastinate? No right? So why do the same with your new year’s goals?

Summary

As you spend time reflecting over the past year, acknowledge all your success, and the areas you wish to improve for next year. Now take the tools you have just learned and create new and achievable goals for yourself. By using the S.M.A.R.T. tools for creating new goals, you will be well equipped to achieve your goals. Remember to create them by being specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and with a time frame. Now that you have the tools, let’s go into the new year well prepared to accomplish every goal you set for yourself!

Written by

A modern millennial guy with a cute little family. Located in Southern California. I like writing about fun topics that are interesting to learn about.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store