If your New Year’s resolutions tend to fizzle out in February, you aren’t alone. About 80% of resolutions fail each year – often within the first few months. How do you become one of the ambitious 20% that succeed? We’re going back to a reliable goal-setting acronym that has been used by businesses, teams, and organizations for years: the SMART method.
The SMART approach breaks down your goal(s) into five categories, helping you stay organized as you plan for the next year.
For the purposes of this article, let’s say your goal is to be more active (which, by the way, matches 65% of resolutions in the U.S.).
Avoid broad statements like “I want to be healthier” or “I want to exercise more”. Instead, write down what you can do to make your goal happen. Write down a resolution statement based on that. Put it on a sticky note, print it out and frame it, or set reminders on your phone – whatever you can do to keep your resolution top-of-mind.
Resolution statement: This year, I’m going to join a gym, sign up for classes, and make exercise a regular part of my life.
Once you have a specific resolution statement, pair it with numbers or statistics – any way you can measure your progress – good or bad. If you fall short of your goal, don’t get too discouraged. Think about why you didn’t meet it, then adjust your plan as needed (this gets into the attainability of your resolution).
Measurable objective: To make this happen, I’ll spend four one-hour sessions at the gym every week.
Your goals can be specific and fluid. If it’s easier for you to start small, do it. If you need to adjust your resolution, go for it. The goal of your resolution should be to improve yourself, not to meet an arbitrary number. Think about any obstacles, then plan for them.
Obstacle: I may not be able to work out at the same time every day – to combat this, I’ll schedule weekly workouts every Sunday evening.
With your goals set, it’s time to get introspective. What drove you to this resolution in the first place? Reminding yourself why you’re making a change is a powerful way to motivate yourself throughout the process.
Why I’m doing this: I’m working out because it makes me feel confident/healthy, and because I want to set a good example for my children.
Set regular goalposts for yourself – and celebrate the milestones when you reach them. Make the change part of your routine. If possible, take steps to keep yourself from backing out of your new plans.
My schedule: I’ll join a local gym by Jan. 5 and sign up for at least one fitness class by Jan. 15. Aside from scheduled classes, I’ll reserve 30 minutes every Sunday evening to plan weekly workouts.
The SMART Method
The first few weeks of any new habit are always the easiest. Keep your goals clear, set measurable objectives, adjust them as needed, motivate yourself throughout the process, and define every step of the way. You’ll be on your way to success in no time.
Do you have New Year’s tips or stories of your own? Share them with us and your colleagues on the MyScholarNet LinkedIn group.