Happy New Year, everyone! This time of year is when most people focus on changing their habits, improving their lives, and creating New Year’s resolutions. While lifestyle change can be exciting and healthy, it can also be very difficult. If you struggle to set or achieve your New Year’s resolutions, perhaps you need to make your resolutions “SMARTer” (not harder)!
Setting SMART goals is a technique that makes it easier to organize your goals, decide on behavioral change, achieve your goals, and measure your success. In this post, I’m going to take you through the concept of SMART goal setting as well as offer some words of advice about setting yourself up for success!
So what are SMART goals?
SMART goals have the following 5 characteristics, that spell out “SMART”
- Specific: Making your goal specific gives you a better indication of what exactly you’re trying to achieve, and helps you focus your efforts.
- Measurable: Making your goal measurable helps you know whether or not you are actually achieving your goal, and gives you a way to measure your progress.
- Attainable: Making sure that your goal is attainable makes it more likely that you will actually achieve your goal, and decreases the likelihood of getting discouraged.
- Relevant: Making your goal relevant to your life makes it more likely that you will be motivated to achieve your goal, and that achieving your goal will have a positive impact.
- Time-Oriented: Making your goal time-oriented gives you an idea of how long you have to achieve your goal, and how you need to organize and time your goal-pursuing behaviors.
Creating your goal in a way that satisfies all of these criteria makes it easier for you to accomplish your goal, measure your success, and meet your own deadline!
How to create and achieve a SMART goal
First, brainstorm a general goal that you would like to achieve. For example: “I want to read more books.”
Second, assess this goal’s relevance to your life. Why is it important to you? How would it impact the rest of your life, or improve your life? If you merely feel that you “ought to” achieve a certain goal, but you don’t have a personal attachment to why you want to achieve it, it may not be a relevant goal. For example: “Reading is highly enjoyable for me, and I find that I’m less stressed when I do it regularly. I also enjoy being well read because it makes me more open-minded and gives me things to talk about.”
Third, decide what level of accomplishment would be attainable in the year (or other time frame). Be reasonable – an unattainable or overzealous goal will discourage you, while an overly easy goal may not challenge you. For example: “Reading 24 books in a year sounds attainable to me – that’s 2 books a month.”
Fourth, define your goal in a way that is specific, measurable, and time-oriented. It is best at this stage to include your specific plans for behavioral change as well as the overall desired goal outcome. For example: “This year I will read 24 books by completing 2 books per month. I will give myself 15 minutes of reading time before bed on work nights, and I will plan one library trip per month.”
Fifth and finally, motivate yourself! Find ways to push yourself and/or to make achieving your goal enjoyable. For example, you could create a friendly competition with a buddy, compete against your personal best, create a reward system for your goal, hire a personal coach, and/or track your progress!
Best of luck, everyone!!