Setting SMART Goals

By now, most people in North America have already broken at least one New Year’s resolution.

Many of us begin the New Year with renewed resolve to make this year better than last year. We set objectives that are worthwhile. Consciously or unconsciously we understand that our effort pays real dividends if we adhere to our resolve. Yet most resolutions of the New Year are broken within the first week of January. Why is that, and how can we set goals that we can keep? The answer to these questions is found in the type of goals we set and the way we structure our objectives.

SMART goals for a SMART you
You may have heard the acronym “SMART” used when discussing goals. We can use this acronym to develop goals that are:

Specific
Measureable
Attainable
Realistic
Timely

Only 3% of the people in North America set SMART goals; yet, these people are the most successful in their endeavors. They are reported to be some of the richest people in the world in terms of the things money can buy – as well as the things that money can’t buy.

Your SMART goals
Do you keep a journal? If so, congratulations! You are well on your way to whatever you define as success. If not, this is the best time to start!

Specific
Begin your journal with a single desire. Make that desire Specific. Write down as much as you can about that desire. For example, many people resolve to lose weight at the first of the year. Losing weight is admirable if you are overweight or obese but it is not specific enough. A more specific statement is to lose 10 pounds. Even more specific might be, “I want to lose 10 pounds of fat.”

Measurable
This goal must be Measurable. So, you will need a scale that measures body fat percentages. Record your starting weight and calculate what your body composition will be when you reach your SMART goal.

Attainable
Ask yourself, “Knowing what I know about my goal and my life, is this attainable?” For instance, an aggressive weight loss goal may not be attainable if you cannot get the sleep you need, if you are under significant stress, if you are “allergic” to exercise or if you have a medical condition that makes weight loss more difficult.

Realistic
Be Realistic! A sprint may set records but the pace cannot be maintained for very long. For weight loss to be permanent you need to set a pace that can be maintained indefinitely. A realistic timeframe is the key to permanent, lifetime weight control.

Timely
Speaking of time, being Timely is the final key in making SMART goals. How much exercise will you do weekly? How many calories will you consume? What is your start date and your realistic end date for this goal? What weekly objectives will you achieve along the way to reach your goal?

State each of these measuring points clearly and you are well on your way to success!