According to Wikipedia, a resolution is a lifestyle change that a person commits to throughout the entire year. Put simply, it's a GOAL! Coincidentally (or not), many decide to make these goals around the end of the previous year or beginning or the new year.
Why Set Goals?
- Accountability (Personal/ Public)
- Measure of Progress (Milestones)
...Need I go on! When you decide to set your goals this year (which I encourage you to take the time to do so sooner rather than putting them off for later…which really implies NEVER!) make sure you set SMART goals.
How To Set SMART Goals?
Unfavorable Goal (Example): "My goal is to be healthier?"
Favorable Goal (Example): "My goal is to eat 3 balanced meals each day and exercise at least 4 days each week for at least 3 consecutive months."
1. Specific: Make it a clear-cut goal with no ambiguity.
- Unfavorable Example (from above): What does “healthier” mean to YOU, as this can be interpreted quite differently with many people? Unclear goals have no meaning and no importance. You need a goal you can take ownership of and recite off the top of your head: What do you intend to accomplish?
- Favorable Example (from above): This goal is very clear what you intend to accomplish. Now you just need to define the remaining variables.
- Unfavorable Example (from above): How would you calculate becoming “healthier?” What is being measured and how? Without any way to determine progress, there’s no way to determine if you’re heading on the correct path to success. A lack of direction can easily lead to inefficiency, a lack of focus, frustration, and no motivation.
- Favorable Example (from above): You can easily count each how many meals you consumed each day and the number of times you exercised each week. Now you can track progress!
- Unfavorable Example (from above): Becoming “healthier” is an infinite goal. This is something you can spend the rest of your life trying to accomplish and therefore will never be successful b/c there’s always something you can do to become even “healthier”.
- Favorable Example (from above): Although it seems far-fetched at times, it IS humanly possible to consume 3 balanced meals per day, exercise 4 days each week, work a full-time career, run a household, have a social life, and lead a fulfilling life. Granted it’ll take a consistent amount of committed effort on your part, but it’s attainable!
- Unfavorable Example (from above): A daily goal is much easier to manage than a weekly goal, just as a yearly goal is much easier to commit to than a lifetime goal. Committing to becoming “healthier” is a great lifestyle modification, as long as you’re not solely committed to achieving this goal within a year! It’s an impossible goal for anyone to achieve in a year. You would need to decide what you interpret as “a healthier YOU”. Does that mean you quit smoking? Does that mean you receive regular medical check-ups? Does that mean you incorporate a healthy weight-loss regimen? Even after you determine what “healthier” means, you’ll need to then decide if it’s a realistic commitment you can make AND keep. You would also need to be able to understand WHY you chose this goal. What importance does it have to you? If you're struggling to answer these questions, you can imagine the struggle you'll encounter with trying to accomplish the goal itself.
- Favorable Example (from above): If this is something you've been frustrated with because of your lack of consistency and how it has affected your daily performance, than the stage of importance is already set. Given that many individuals can consume 3 balanced meals per day and can make it a priority to exercise at least 4 days per week you can determine it's realistic for you to do as well. This goal can be broken down into the following 5 steps: 1) Week 1, eat breakfast everyday & exercise at least 2 days in the week. 2) Week 2, eat breakfast and lunch everyday & exercise at least 3 days in the week. 3) Week 3, eat breakfast, lunch, & dinner each day & exercise at least 4 days in the week. 4) Week 4, eat 3 balanced meals/ day & exercise at least 4 days/ week. 5) Keep this a consistent part of my lifestyle for at least the next 3 months while monitoring progress each week.
5. Time-Bound: There needs to be a deadline; a realistic & meaningful deadline. Whether or not you’re a procrastinator or someone who is extremely proactive, deadlines instill a sense of motivational pressure which place your goals at the forefront of your priority list. Deadlines compel performance and performance drives success.
- Unfavorable Example (from above): Without a specific goal, there is nothing to measure. Without anything to measure the deadline is meaningless. How would you know if you succeeded by the set deadline, or was it just a random date with no justification? Again, there’s no commitment to achieving such an ambiguous goal with an arbitrary deadline. No commitment = No motivation = No success.
- Favorable Example (from above): It’s realistic to make this goal a habit within 6 months. It’s said that old habits can be broken and new habits can be created within 3 weeks. After 6 months the new habit is said to become a part of your new identity. Making it a habit to consume 3 meals per day & exercise 4 days per week for at least 3 consecutive months can reasonably be accomplished by or before June 30th, 2013. Setting a shorter (vs. longer) deadline also stimulates action to be taken sooner rather than later.