Finally, 2023 is in the rearview mirror. The New Year has begun and you may already have resolutions for the year or you are still bouncing a few around in your head.
Even though the term resolution means a firm decision to do something, far too often resolutions end up falling by the wayside. You can see it in health clubs that will be historically packed for the month of January and then by March there is plenty of space. Why does that happen so often?
I believe that most people have a goal or resolution that is too vague. Resolutions like:
I want to lose weight.
I want to get in shape.
I want to buy a house.
I want to write a novel.
The problem with these goals is that they are too vague. Today I will tell you about SMART goals. SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. This changes your goal into a serious achievable target.
Let me explain each piece of SMART goals.
Specific – A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. To set a specific goal you must answer the six “W” questions that pertain to different aspects of goals and different types of goals:
*Who: Who is involved?
*What: What do I want to accomplish?
*Where: Identify a location.
*When: Establish a time frame.
*Which: Identify requirements and constraints.
*Why: Specific reasons, purpose or benefits of accomplishing the goal.
EXAMPLE: A general goal would be, “Get in shape.” But a specific goal would say, “Join a health club and workout 3 days a week.” Ensure the goals you set is very specific, clear and easy. Instead of setting a goal to lose weight or be healthier, set a specific goal to lose 2cm off your waistline or to walk 5 miles at an aerobically challenging pace.
Measurable – Choose a goal with measurable progress, so you can see the change occur. How will you know when you reach your goal? Be specific! “I want to read the first book of Lord of the Rings by March 15th,” shows the specific target to be measure. You may have a goal of reading the entire book and may want to break it down into smaller pieces and goals.
If you have a goal of running a 5K race, you might have a goal of being able to walk/run a mile by February 1st. Then a goal of running/walking two miles by March 1st. The goals can get as measurable as you like.
Establish concrete criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each goal you set. When you measure your progress, you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the exhilaration of achievement that spurs you on to continued effort required to reach your goals.
To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?
Attainable – A goal needs to stretch you slightly so you feel you can do it and it will need a real commitment from you. For instance, if you aim to lose 20lbs in one week, we all know that isn’t achievable (or healthy). But setting a goal to lose 3 pounds and setting a plan for that part will make it easier to get to an overall goal of losing 20 pounds. It will also keep the overall goal more achievable for you.
The feeling of success which each step towards an overall goal helps you to remain motivated.
Realistic – This is not a synonym for “easy.” Realistic, in this case, means “do-able.”
If you have a goal of buying a house you would need to know what you can afford. If you say that you want to buy a mansion but have no money saved and you are working a minimum wage job, your goal is not realistic. However, if your goal is to buy a house, you can meet with a lender and find out what you would need to do to be able to achieve that goal. It might not be the mansion to start with but you can start somewhere that’s realistic.
Devise a plan or a way of getting to your goal that makes the goal realistic. The goal needs to be realistic for you and where you are at the moment. You may have a house to sell and it needs repairs. Break those repairs down into smaller, manageable steps.
Running a marathon in the spring may not be realistic for a couch potato, but with realistic targets along the way it’s possible to achieve that by summer.
Be sure to set goals that you can attain with some effort! Too difficult and you set the stage for failure, but too low sends the message that you aren’t very capable. Set the bar high enough for a satisfying achievement!
Timely – Set a timeframe for the goal: for next week, in three months, by Sturgis Rally time. Putting an end point on your goal gives you a clear target to work towards.
If you don’t set a time, the commitment is too vague. It tends not to happen because you feel you can start at any time. Without a time limit, there’s no urgency to start taking action now.
If you want to buy a house, when do you want to achieve that by? Is it within three months, six months, or a year? Think of the steps you need to achieve along the way. For instance, you will need to get prequalified for a mortgage. That will also let you know how much you can spend. Then you can start adding more aspects to your goal.
Time must be measurable, attainable and realistic to achieve your goal.
It is also helpful to write down your goal and put it in a place where you will see it so that you can check your progress toward it. Lastly, think about putting visual reminder up for your goal. It might be a picture of a house, a key (to a house or car—depending on your goal) or a photo of your body when it was in shape. Get creative with it!
Most of all, welcome to the New Year! Make it great one for you!