The start of a New Year typically bring about a lot of focus and talk on resolutions, but couldn’t this be as simple as just doing something different? But doing something different does take a little bit of specificity, planning and time. Following the guide of establishing SMART goals truly does help. Making SMART goals helps to figure out what really works for YOU and YOUR life vs. what are generalized trends that everyone seems to be following or participating in. Let’s take what we do know and apply it to your unique life, experiences, and circumstances to promote sustainable and lifestyle changes vs. just hoping for an outcome.
Here are some quick tips when planning and trying to figure out HOW to do something different:
First And Most Important:
- Let’s focus on actions we CAN DO vs. what we shouldn’t do.
- Instead of “I can’t eat this,” “I shouldn’t eat that,” “I have to exercise.”
Step 1 -- Be Specific. Clearly state your goal.
It’s OK to start out with an overarching goal or general wish of: “I want to be healthier,” “I want to improve my health,” “I want to eat better,” or “I need to improve my eating habits.”
But… take it a step further. For example:
- I want to improve my health by improving my sleep hygiene.
- I want to be healthier by managing my stress
- I want to improve my eating habits by eating more fruits and vegetables.
Step 2 -- Next, let’s make it Measurable in terms of using time, distance, duration, or frequency.
However, measurable at this point in time is not measured in terms of the results that you want.
- I want to improve my health by improving my sleep hygiene – All screens/electronics will be turned off by 8:30pm every night.
- I want to be healthier by managing my stress by completing a gratitude activity times per week.
- I want to improve my eating habits by eating more fruits and vegetables. I will have one serving of fruit and/or one serving of vegetables with each meal daily.
Step 3 – Make them Achievable – meaning that you have the ability, tools, and resources to participate and work on this goal.
If you have never participated in “running” as an activity, deciding to run a 5K at a 10:00 minute pace isn’t going to happen in a month. Make sure that the goal you have set is truly achievable vs. what you “wish.”
If you want to participate in physical activity more, but if your only option is outdoor activities, the weather will have to be accounted for.
Step 4 – Next, take a step back and decide if it’s Realistic and Reasonable.
Make sure that you have identified a goal that you really can achieve, and you are interested in achieving. If you choose something you are not interested in, then motivation will be hard to maintain. Again, even though it is obvious – if you choose an unrealistic goal, then you are only setting yourself up for failure. Use SMART goals to help focus on what YOU CAN DO. For Example:
- If you have clinical insomnia, “going to sleep by 10:00 pm every night” may not be reasonable for you; however, turning off screens/electronics is a doable action.
- By including 2 & 3 into your goal-setting process,
Step 4 should be reasonable and doable, and you shouldn’t have any doubts or misgivings about “can I do this?” Being reasonable means that something is fair, consistent, doable & sustainable. If there are doubts, then let’s reframe the previous steps to make it easier for you to work on the goal.
Step 5 – Finally, make your goal Timely.
Timely specifically refers to how long you are going to do this until it becomes of habit, the frequency at which you will work on the goal, or determine something else needs to be done. Examples include:
- For the next month, I am going to focus on my health by turning off my screens/electronics at 8:30 pm.
- For the next month, I am going to eat 3-fruits a day.
- For the next month, I am going to do some form of intentional movement for 30-minutes on 2- weekdays and 1-weekend day each week.
Remember, the more specific you make it, the easier it will be. Being specific with days of the week helps over, “I am going to exercise 3 times a week.”
Studies have shown that self-monitoring is essential to achieving your goals. I prefer to think about this as taking time for self-reflection. Really, goal setting is an on-going process of self-evaluation and awareness, not just a checklist or a way to grade yourself on a pass or fail basis.
In this new year, take a different approach to “resolutions.” Take a different approach to goal setting. But at the end of the day, make sure you take that time for self-care, reflection, and grace for your mind, body, and spirit to help ensure sustainable changes and a lifetime of success.
No information on this site should be used to diagnose, treat, prevent or cure any disease or condition.