We've all done it - set goals for the New Year, and then we don't follow through. It leaves us feeling defeated and depressed. Why not start your year out with goals that you will actually attain? How do you do that? It is very simple if you take the time to think it through. I once read an article from IDEA about setting SMART goals. The acronym SMART will help you make sure you are setting goals that you will actually meet.
First, you need to set goals that are Specific. You can't just set some ambiguous goal and expect to meet it. For example, many people would like to lose "some" weight. That is a good goal, but you need to be specific about how much you want to lose and how you are going to do it.
Next, your goals should be Measurable. If you can measure your goal, you will know if you met it! Instead of "some" weight, say exactly how many pounds you want to lose, or how many inches around your waist.
Better yet, make your goal focused on an Action. Instead of saying, "I'd like to lose some weight," think of what action will you take to meet that. It would be better to say, "I'm going to walk every day." That will help you lose weight, and it takes the focus off losing pounds which isn't always the best measure. If you are new to exercising, you may gain weight because you are building muscle mass which will in turn boost your metabolism and help you burn more caloires. If you are focusing on pounds, this can be very depressing! Instead make your goals focus on the action you are going to take to meet your goal of losing weight. It is a much more positive way to look at your goals. Here are some examples of goals that would be better than saying "losing weight:"
Walking/running every day
Eating 3-5 servings of fruits and vegetables every day
Eating only foods with less than 10 grams of sugar
Strength training 3 times a week
The R stands for Reasonable. You want your goals to be reasonable. It isn't reasonable to say that you will exercising for 3 hours every day. Make sure you have confidence in the goal you set. If you think it is something you could actually do, then it is reasonable. Don't set the bar so high that you know you cannot meet it. It is better to meet your goal and feel confident and good about yourself. You can always make a new goal or add more challenges to your original goal.
Finally the T represents Time. Make sure your goal has a deadline. Start off with something like, "I'm going to walk every day for 30 minutes for 1 month." Then, when that goal is met, set a new goal. Increase the time or distance of the walk for the next month or keep the goal the same except try to do it for 6 weeks instead of 30 days. Take baby steps. Don't take on more than you can handle and you will find yourself feeling good about yourself and motivated to take on more.
It is important to remember that no one is perfect. We will have bumps in the road. Don't let one little bump keep you from achieving your goal. If something gets you off track, get right back at it the next day. Missing one day of exercise in the scope of a lifetime isn't a big deal. It is when we let that one day keep us from getting back on track that creates the problem. Don't beat yourself up. Get right back in the saddle and keep going!
Hopefully, this acronym will help you set SMART goals for this new year that you can achieve!