‘S.M.A.R.T’ New Year’s resolutions for a healthier you

With 2021 in full swing, many of us are setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions. Resolutions related to leading healthier lifestyles are often at the top of the list, with popular choices including losing weight, eating healthier and exercising more regularly. 

 Unfortunately, very few people actually stick to their New Year’s resolutions. So, why the low success rate? 

 Well, New Year’s resolutions and goals are often vague and may involve unrealistic expectations. Also, many people undertake resolutions without a proper plan in place. Luckily, with proper planning, you can be well on your way to achieving your ultimate goal. 

In this blog, I will show you how to successfully achieve your New Year’s resolutions, using the S.M.A.R.T goals method. S.M.A.R.T stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound, i.e. (S.M.AR.T)

Start with your intention for New Year’s Resolutions

 When setting goals, it’s best to start with outlining your intention. This involves identifying a problem that needs fixing and resolving to do something about it. 

When you do this, it’s important to remember that resolutions should be about your life, health and happiness. Often, our goals are influenced by family, friends or societal norms. Though our personal desire and goals and desires may also align with what our loved ones want for us, it’s important to stay in touch with our own aspirations and reasons for setting (and working towards) resolutions. 

Setting S.M.A.R.T. New Year’s Resolutions

Once you’ve identified your intentions, you can start framing your goals into the S.M.A.R.T format—goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time-oriented. 

Here’s how you can break down your S.M.A.R.T goals:

Specific

A good goal is very specific. It maps out what you want to achieve, and the steps needed to get there. It is usually easier to achieve a specific goal compared to a vague one. This is because when a goal is specific, it leaves little wiggle room: you either did it or you didn’t. Setting clear goals holds us more accountable for our actions, and accountability is key when it comes to achieving goals. 

To help you create clearly defined and specific goals, answer the following questions

  • What specifically do I want to achieve this year?
  • By when do I want to accomplish this resolution?
  • Who is involved in this goal?
  • Where will this activity take place?
  • Why is this resolution important to me?

For example, “I want to exercise more” isn’t very specific and may feel unmanageable over time. To avoid confusion, use the 5 W’s to narrow your focus. The resolution “I want to go to the gym at least four times every week starting on 15 January 2021, for six months” is more detailed and defined, and will help you take actionable steps toward reaching the goal.

Measurable

When your goal has a measurable unit, it is easier to track and determine progress. Applying a measurable unit will also let you know when you have succeeded in reaching your goal. For example, you can take a goal like “I will lose weight” and improve it by adding a measurement, so your goal will be something like ” I will lose 5 kgs.”

Consider asking yourself these questions to make your goals more measurable: 

  • What milestones can I measure along the way?
  • How will I know when my goal is achieved?

Attainable

While many of us would love to achieve the impossible, it is important to set a goal that can actually be achieved. Feel free to challenge yourself, but remember to still keep your goal possible. If you set an ambitious goal, be sure to break it down into smaller, more attainable milestones. 

For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 12kgs in 2021, you can set smaller goals, such as losing 1 kg every month. 

 It is also important to anticipate limitations and constraints that may impact your ability to achieve your goal. Account for these possible requirements or obstacles by planning how you will meet or overcome them. 

You can make goals attainable by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Is my goal realistic for my finances and schedule?
  • Is my goal achievable with the resources that I have?
  • What are some potential barriers to meeting my goal, and how can I overcome them?

Relevant

This goes back to your intentions and picking goals that are truly valuable to you. Set goals that reflect what you want, who you’d like to be or become. Be as clear as you can on why you want to work toward this goal. Your goal should be challenging and big enough to inspire and motivate you. 

 Answer these guiding questions to see if your goals are relevant:

  • Why is my goal important to me? How is it significant to my life?
  • Does my goal align with my other goals? 

Time-oriented

An effective goal should be time-limited. Giving yourself a time frame for when you would like to achieve your goal will motivate you.

Using dates or events as milestones to check-in on progress can be helpful by keeping you focused and enthusiastic.   

Set your goal with a deadline and create a calendar leading up to it with all the steps you need to achieve your goal. Consider your milestones and track your progress daily.

 Ask yourself the following questions:

  • When should I start and complete my goal?
  • What can I get started with today?
  • What should I do on a day-to-day, week-to-week or month-to-month basis?

Sample New Year’s resolutions

Here are some traditional resolutions made “S.M.A.R.T.”

 Traditional resolution: I will lose weight.

SMART resolution: I will lose 12kgs by 1 April, by reducing my calorie intake by 500 calories per day and exercising 4 days per week. 

Traditional resolution: I will exercise more. 

SMART resolution: I will run for 40 minutes on Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the park in my neighbourhood, from January December. 

Traditional resolution: I will eat more healthy foods. 

SMART resolution: I will eat 5 fruits and vegetables every day for the next two weeks.

The bottom line when setting New Year’s Resolutions

 Remember, resolutions aren’t about trying to do everything at once, but rather taking small steps towards a big change. 

Check-in at each milestone so you can evaluate and track your progress. If you have met your initial goal, acknowledge and celebrate that accomplishment. 

If you’re not where you set out to be after your check-in, that is perfectly okay. Don’t get discouraged- use the time to reflect on why you got off track and make some adjustments to your S.MA.R.T plan to get back on the path to success. 

 For more tips on how to get healthier this year, contact me for a consultation. 

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