Do you know anybody who is a chronic "resolution-er"? Someone who has a hard time maintaining their big New Year's goals past February? Who are the people around you who joke, "Yea, I made a resolution to lose weight...but then Valentine's Day came around," or "I made a resolution to quit smoking, but then I needed a break at work."
However, if making and sticking to goals is hard for you, it does not mean that you are helpless or hopeless, or should give up trying. Far too many people make goals that are too big, too general, way too difficult, and without any tracking tools. People tend to create large, grandiose, long-term goals with no short-terms goals to guide the process. Follow the 4-step method below to reach your resolutions for 2016.
Step 1: Make long-term goals as well as a few corresponding short-term goals. Make sure each goal follows the SMART acronym below:
Let’s take a look at this resolution/goal example: For 2016, I am going to work out more.
Specific: This goal is not specific at all - what exactly does “work out more” mean? What does “work out” mean? What activity are you referring to – dancing, swimming, running on the treadmill, taking a yoga class, going for a walk, etc.? What does “more” mean?
Tip: Add one to the number of times you swim/hike/dance/walk now.
Measurable: How can I measure “work out” and “more”? Make sure you consider how often and for how long you want to do and can enjoy the activity for. 10 minutes? 30 minutes?
Tip: If you are starting with 0 minutes, consider starting at just 5-10 minutes, instead of jumping straight to 30 min to avoid you fatiguing and then hating the activity.
Attainable: As your goal fleshes out, consider whether the details you are choosing are attainable or not. Think about your past experiences when trying to achieve this goal with the activity you chose, the amount of time, and what happened the last time you tried to achieve this goal. How can you make this goal as easy as possible for yourself with just the slightest hint of challenge so that you are more likely to succeed?
Realistic: Is your goal realistic so far? Do you have time for it? Do you have the energy or the physical capabilities for it?
Timely: What’s the time limit on your goal?
Tip: Keep the time factor shorter than one month for your short-term goals so that tracking progress is much easier.
A final example short-term goal: I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes once a week for the month of February.
A final example long-term goal: I will participate in a cardio exercise for at least 30 minutes 3 times a week by the end of the year.
Step 2: Create a chart or use a calendar to chart your progress.
With the above goal, mark down each day that you were able to hike or swim for at least 30 minutes. At the end of the month, write down how many weeks during the month of February you were able to reach your goal.
Step 3: Modify your goals to reach your long-term goal.
Say during the month of February, you only achieved your goal 2 out of the 4 weeks. For the month of March, you can choose to keep the same goal, or “downgrade” it, aka make it a little easier. An example of a downgrade would be, “I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes at least twice during the month of March.”
Say during the month of February, you achieved your goal and hiked or swam for 30 minutes every single week. Now you can choose to keep the same goal for March or you can “upgrade” it, aka make it a little harder. An example of an upgrade would be, “I will hike or swim for at least 45 minutes once a week for the month of March” OR “I will hike or swim for at least 30 minutes TWICE a week for the month of March.”
Step 4: This sounds cheesy, but congratulate yourself every step of the way
whether you get to upgrade or downgrade your goals. The biggest step is in taking the time to create SMART goals in the first place.
Share your SMART Goals in the comments below. Here’s to sticking to and achieving our 2016 Resolutions!