Written by Patricia Pauyo | Reviewed by Alyssa Tucci MS, RDN, CDN
The start of a new year is the perfect time to make changes in our lives. For many of us, it symbolizes a clean slate or a time for new beginnings. Many of us wait for this moment to start some sort of behavioral change as a New Year’s resolution. Some typical goals for the New Year could be to start exercising, to be more environmentally friendly, or to be healthier.
Although all of these goals are great ideas, they are very broad. When deciding on a goal, one way to ensure that you’re going to be successful is to make them into S.M.A.R.T goals.
What does that mean?
Here are the characteristics of a S.M.A.R.T goal:
A good goal indicates the Who, What, When and Where of your vision. It tells you not only what you eventually hope to accomplish, but also the steps you must take to get there. Instead of saying “I’m going to start exercising” a SMART goal would be“I’m going to sign up for spin class at the gym with my friend.”
Effective goals focus on how much change is expected. You want to be able to measure your success so that you have tangible evidence that you have accomplished the goal. Instead of saying “I’m going to lose weight” a SMART goal would be “I will lose 10 pounds in 3 months.”
To prevent discouragement and defeat, it’s important to make sure that your goals are achievable. A goal should challenge you out of your comfort zone, but only to the point where you can still be successful. If you have a busy lifestyle and you want to start exercising, instead of saying “ I’m going to work out everyday of the week for 2 hours, ” a SMART goal would be more along the lines of “I’m going to work out 3 days a week for at least 30 minutes”.
Realistic goals focus on how we can make a vision come to life. These goals are not only ones that are attainable but also ones that we are willing and ready to succeed at. Aside from being specific and being able to measure the progress, there also needs to be a level of commitment and excitement for the change you are trying to make. Having a goal to stop buying take-out completely when you are used to buying it every day of the week is somewhat unrealistic. It would be much more realistic to have a goal of buying take-out only 3 days a week instead.
A good goal is one that is linked to a timeframe. Adding a time frame to your goal will create a sense of urgency and help keep you motivated. Goals without a time frame are less likely to be successful. So instead of saying “I’m going to walk to work more” you might say “I am going to walk to work 10 times this month”.
Goals are made to help us grow and become the best version of ourselves. As you are reflecting on the previous year, and planning your resolutions for this new year - whether it’s acquiring a new hobby, learning a new skill or having a healthier lifestyle - remember to make your goals into SMART goals!
What are your SMART goals for this year?