Making a New Year's Resolution? Make It a SMART One

If early January is anything like last year, the gym will be unusually busy, not only with regulars but with people visiting, taking a tour of the facilities, getting new membership cards. Ah yes—it’s New Year’s Resolution season. It’s a time many of us communicate a longing for change. The trick will be turning that longing into the actions that bring the satisfaction of achievement.

How do we make that happen?

It’s time to craft a SMART goal, an articulation of our longing that propels us to action. SMART goals are those that are comprised of a set of attributes that create a more carefully articulated version of our resolution. By imbuing our goal with these attributes, we give ourselves the opportunity to know when we have achieved it, providing the satisfaction of accomplishment.

Here are the attributes of a SMART goal:

Specific: Set out your goal in a straightforward and well-defined way. This will provide direction when the time comes for you to undertake it.

Measurable: Make sure your goal can be assessed objectively, with tangible evidence that you have completed it.  It might be a quantitative goal (I will go to the gym four times a week), on a sliding scale (I will cook half of my meals at home each week), or as a binary proposition (I will quit smoking).

Achievable/ Ambitious: Make sure your goal is enough of a stretch to make it meaningful yet still within the realm of the possible. Pipe dreams are not goals. Neither are sure things.

Relevant: Make sure your goal has a purpose that makes a difference to you. After all, you must care enough to make it happen.

Time-bound: Give yourself a deadline. Your mission needs a sense of urgency.

Deciding to make a change is a big step. Some work to articulate that goal can really pay off. The next step is developing the habit of action to make progress toward your goal. This recent article in the New York Times looks at the role of cues and rewards in helping us get to our goals. 

Here’s to setting and achieving our goals in 2019! 


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