One of the best ways you can make your New Year’s resolutions more than a brief flirtation with change is to follow the “SMART” acronym for setting goals. It’s been around for decades so you’ve probably encountered it at school, work or some other setting, and it provides a great structure for setting and keeping your resolutions and other goals.
To review, SMART stands for:
• Specific — You can’t be vague about what you want to do. Write out your goals and attach numbers to them. This is easiest to do with health, nutritional or fitness-based resolutions like losing 20 pounds or running a 7-minute mile, but it can also be applied to financial or self-care situations.
• Measurable — This works hand-in-glove with the specificity of your resolution. If you’re going for that 7-minute mile, you’re either hitting it or you’re not, and you’re able to measure your progress if, for example, you’re already running a mile in 9 minutes and training to shave a couple minutes off.
• Attainable — If you weigh 135 pounds and want to get down to 115, losing that percentage of your body volume is going to be more difficult than reaching a goal of 125 pounds. If it takes everything you’ve got to run a mile in 14 minutes, then shaving it down to 12 minutes is more attainable than trying to get it down to 7.
• Relevant — Choose a resolution that has a deeper meaning for you or would improve your life. If you want to lose weight, choose an amount that would help you reach broader health goals. If you’re quitting smoking or cutting back on alcohol, keep the reasons you want to do it at the front of your mind.
• Time-bound — Set a realistic, but not too generous, time frame for resolving your resolution. You don’t have to take a year to accomplish it, and in most cases that would be too long. Losing 20 pounds at a sustainable rate of 1 to 2 pounds a week should take between
2 ½ to four months.