Start Smart: Use S.M.A.R.T Goals to Set a New Year’s Resolution You’ll Actually Stick to This Year
With the holidays now behind us, the New Year is fast approaching, and that means it’s time for New Year’s resolutions. If you’re like many Americans, you’re thinking about improving your health in 2016. According to Nielson research, more than 2/3 of New Year’s Resolutions made last year were wellness-related, with the top two being “staying fit and healthy” and “losing weight” (1). While the New Year is a great time to focus on your health, the problem with these intentions is that they’re too vague. Without an action plan to back up your goals, you’re likely to be among the 92% of resolvers who give up on their goals before achieving them (2).
Don’t be a statistic! If you’re planning to make a health-related New Year’s Resolution this year, set yourself up for success by setting a S.M.A.R.T goal.
What is a S.M.A.R.T Goal?
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-Bound. These criteria describe a proven approach to goal setting that leads to real results. While the concept originated in the business world, the S.M.A.R.T goal strategy easily lends itself to all sorts of self-improvement and personal health goals. Let’s break it down.
• Specific – Clearly define what you want to accomplish and what it will take to get there. Health has many components, from exercise and nutrition, to stress management and lifestyle habits like smoking; make a plan that addresses each area, or choose just one to focus on. Instead of just vowing to “get in shape,” think through what that means and how you’ll do it. Are you a walker who wants to become a runner? Sign up for a 5k a few months out and follow a training plan. If you want to build strength, sign up for a gym membership and book weekly sessions with a personal trainer.
• Measurable – Quantify your goal, and indicate how you’ll measure progress. Instead of just saying you want to lose weight, decide how much. Even better, break down your weight loss goal into smaller increments so you can celebrate your success as you hit each mark. If your goal is to get in shape, be specific about how often and how long you plan to exercise each week.
• Attainable – Be realistic about what you can achieve given where you are starting from, what resources you have available, your time constraints and other barriers you may face. If you’re not a morning person or have a long commute, it may not be realistic to start exercising before work, but fitting in a lunchtime walk may be more manageable.
• Relevant – Your goal should align with your values and feel meaningful to you. Dig deep and identify what’s really motivating you to improve your health- whether it’s lowering your blood pressure so you don’t have to take medication, setting a healthy example for your family, or feeling confident while rocking a swimsuit at the beach this summer. Tapping into a deeper drive will help you stay on track when motivation starts to lag.
• Time-bound – Set yourself deadlines for both short and long term goals. If you’re training for a race, there’s a built-in time frame, and a training log can help keep you accountable along the way. If you’re trying to lose weight, break down your goal into smaller milestones and set reasonable expectations as to when you’ll hit them. Mark your calendar with key dates to reinforce your commitment, like your race day, a planned beach vacation this summer or a class reunion in the fall.
By setting S.M.A.R.T goals instead of vague resolutions this year, you’ll increase your chances of staying on track. Once you’ve set your goals, let Good Measure Meals help you meet them! Our fresh, nutrient-balanced meal plans make healthy eating easy, while promoting habits that can be sustained long-term. For even more support, check out our special Commit to Lean packages that combine meal plans with nutrition coaching and support. With S.M.A.R.T goal setting and 360 degrees of support from Good Measure Meals, 2016 can be the year you finally stick to your New Year’s Resolutions.
This post was contributed by GMM Registered Dietitian, Alissa Palladino.