If I had kept all of the new years resolutions I’ve made over the years I would: weigh less, drink more water, exercise more, watch less TV, read more books, eat less sugar and volunteer more. Because I have made a lot of resolutions - a lot of good resolutions that would produce positive, healthy things in my life. And I haven’t kept any of them. Why? Because I didn’t make them the right way. I didn’t make SMART goals. Here is how you can avoid falling into the trap of making goals that you can’t keep:
Goals should be SMART - meaning specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-specific. When your goal is able to meet this criteria you are going to be much more likely to meet your goal. Maybe this sounds boring so let me make it practical with an example.
Let’s say my new years resolution is to “get more exercise.” How will I know when I’ve met this goal? What does “more” mean? If I change the language of my goal it might make more sense.
Specific - For my goal, exercise means 30 minutes of physical activity
Measurable - My goal is to exercise 4 times a week. I can measure the amount per week that I exercise
Achievable - I realize that four times a week is probably not achievable with my work schedule. I decide that I can probably work out one-two times a week
Relevant - Getting more exercise is important to me because I want to improve my health this year
Time-Specific - I want to do this all year. But I will start by saying that I want to do this in January to make it more time specific and achievable.
My old goal: Exercise more.
My new goal: Exercise for 30 minutes 1-2 times a week in January.
Do you see how a goal like "exercise more" will fail so quickly? If we don’t define for ourselves what our actual goal is, the goal posts seem like moving targets. Keep your resolutions by making goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-specific.