I don’t make New Year’s resolutions because when I have in the past, I always ended up failing. I think part of the reason for this is because I didn’t make SMART goals. I don’t know who invented the SMART goal; I learned about it in the partial hospitalization program (PHP) I was in last year. They even had worksheets for making SMART goals.
SMART is an acronym for:
SPECIFIC: a goal has to be as specific as possible. That way you won’t lose sight of your goal or the big picture. For example, a goal I have is to increase my time (walking!) on the treadmill. Right now I am barely able to do 10 minutes, partially because of boredom. So I’m setting my sights on 15 minutes. In the meantime, I will walk 10 minutes to start on the first week; then for 11 minutes, 3 times a week during the second week; and then 13 minutes, 3 times a week on the third week; and finally 15 minutes, 3 times a week for a total of 4 weeks. I will also read while I’m on the treadmill.
MEASURABLE: the goal should be measurable, which means you must be able to see progress by measuring whatever your goal is. In my case, I can track how long I’m on the treadmill. To start, it might be 10 minutes. A month from now, it could be 15. Meanwhile, I can track my progress by each additional minute that I add to my original 10.
ATTAINABLE: your goal must be attainable. It should be something that you know you can/want to complete, rather than a goal that you’re not really into or that others want you to make. Because if that’s the case, you’re less likely to reach your goal.
RELEVANT: a goal has to be relevant to your life. Let’s take the example I’ve been using: how is walking for 15 minutes, 3 times a week relevant to my life? Now that I’m getting older, I care more about my health. I want to reduce my risk of a heart attack, so I’m doing some light cardio by walking on the treadmill.
TIMELY: and finally, the goal should be timely. That is, you should have a specific start date and end date. In my example, the total time to attain the goal is 4 weeks. I’ll start Monday, June 17 and will end on Wednesday, July 6.
I’ve made some SMART goals since I first learned about them, and managed to complete them. In PHP we had to create a SMART goal once a week. It does help, but it’s up to you to do the work. You can find SMART goal worksheets online here (not an ad!).
Would you consider making a SMART goal?