Happy New Year! By now those of you who make resolutions have set some lofty goals. If you find yourself sitting on the couch tomorrow nursing that hangover, get your pen and paper out. New Years resolution making has been around since Babylonian times, so it would be very nontraditional if you have not set goals. Research shows that 40-45% of US Americans make resolutions every year. People who explicitly make resolutions are ten times more likely to attain goals than people who make general goals.
But, how many people actually keep their promises to themselves to lose weight, exercise more, or quit a nasty habit: THE three top resolutions? If you want to make sure you keep your promise to yourself for more than 6 months (only 46% do), goals must be SMART. As Physical Therapists we write goals with our patients every day in the SMART form so that they are achievable. Here is how to do it…
S – Specific – In order to be a specific goal it must answer the question: who? what? where? when? why?
M – Measurable – How do you know you have achieved the goal?
A – Attainable – Not necessarily easy to achieve. You must have the right attitude, skill, and ability to achieve them.
R – Realistic – Are you motivated to continue working towards the goals? Even though it might be difficult to attain, you have the drive to continue working for it. If your resolutions are realistic, you are going to continue working at achieving them.
T – Timely and Tangible – Set a date. My favorite component “Tangible” means you can see, feel, and taste it. This is very powerful in keeping you passionate at working hard to achieve the desired outcome. For example: “I feel happier,” “I feel more energetic,” “My pants feel loose.” Too often we go by the numbers on the scale or how we look in the mirror.
Common New Year’s Resolutions:
1. Lose weight.
–SMART alternative: To lose 10 pounds by July 1st and feel better about my body in a bathing suit, I will visit the farmers market every week for more organic produce and walk 4 times a week to/from work.
2. Exercise more.
–SMART alternative: To feel better about my body and have more energy, I will run a 10K in less than 60 minutes by June 1st. I will achieve this goal by going to the gym 3x/week to do yoga, weights, and jogging.
Other important tips when setting goals:
1. Make them positive. Avoid quitting something all together. If you want to cut down on drinking, replace that glass of wine with tea. Then you are making the habit change the addition of tea, instead of quitting alcohol.
2. Make them public. If you don’t tell anyone about them, you are not serious about achieving them. They can also give you encouragement and support to help you achieve your goals.
3. Congratulate yourself. Look back on the previous year and list of all the things you accomplished to help motivate you for this years goals.
4. Do not set more than 3 goals, especially if they are challenging to attain.
Now you are ready to write you goals down in the SMART format. Good luck and Happy New Year!
AND GET OFF THE COUCH. Start today!