Use SMART goals to make mindful New Year’s Resolutions that stick
Think about your New Year’s resolutions for 2022. Did you make any? If so, did they stick? How many of those resolutions are a part of your life today, one year later?
If you’re like 80 percent of the population, your resolutions lasted no longer than Valentine’s Day. We all make New Year’s resolutions with the best of intentions, but it’s a classic case of easier said than done.
A big reason why resolutions fail is that we don’t take the time to make them the right way. When it all boils down, resolutions are goals we set for ourselves. If we don’t treat them like goals—and follow the tried-and-true method of making goals that stick—they are destined to fizzle by spring.
To make lasting resolutions, we need to be SMART about setting them, and that means making SMART goals. SMART goals first debuted in a 1981 issue of the journal, Management Review. Since then, setting SMART goals has become a proven method of setting goals you are most likely to achieve.
“SMART goals work because they are based upon a formula that ensures the goal-setter is deliberate about what she is hoping to achieve and by when she would like to achieve it,” says Brandi Keiser, certified master life coach and personal growth expert at www.brandikeiser.com.
SMART goals consist of five factors that help goal setters focus their goals and reevaluate them when they aren’t working—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
Here’s an overview of the SMART goal formula:
Specific: A goal like “I want to get healthier” is likely to crash and burn before it gets off the ground. Why? It’s too general. For a resolution to be successful, it must be specific. For example, “I want to substitute a vegetarian meal for red meat or chicken three times a week.”
Measurable: To successfully track your progress with a goal, there should be a number attached to it. For example, “I want to lose two pounds a week for the next four weeks,” or I will go to the gym for 30 minutes a day, four days a week, for 12 weeks. To track measurable goals, write down your progress in a journal or spreadsheet. When we see our progress, we are more likely to stay motivated.
Achievable: Of course, we want goals that motivate us to strive for our dreams, but those goals must be realistic. You don’t want to set a goal of, “I want to run an ultra-marathon by the end of 2023” if you haven’t worked out since high school. For lofty long-term goals, your short-term mini goal should be to ramp up resources to achieve it. If you haven’t exercised in a while (or ever), make a resolution to go to a gym, take a walk, or meet with a personal trainer once a week. Then build your way up.
Relevant: Are your resolutions a good fit for you? Anyone can make a pie in the sky resolution, like, “I want to make my first million by the end of the year.” If you’re just starting a new business or career, this isn’t a relevant goal for you. Instead, make a resolution such as, “I want to make one prospecting phone call every day for the next 30 days to help my business grow.”
Time-bound: Most of us are much more likely to achieve goals when we set a deadline for them. If you make a New Year’s resolution of, “I want to be more organized,” but you don’t set a date for which you want to have successfully put some organization tactics in place, chances are, you’ll file that goal in the back of your mind and continue to live a disorganized life. Instead, make a deadline-driven resolution such as, “I’m going to create file folders for all my household paperwork and put them into a filing cabinet by March 30, 2023.”
As you are making New Year’s resolutions via SMART goals, try to limit the total number of resolutions you make. Statistics show, the fewer goals you set for yourself, the better your chances of achieving them. By being SMART about your New Year’s resolutions, you can make 2023 your most successful resolution year yet!!