A New Year’s resolution is a declaration, promise or pledge to make a change to maintain a good behavior for the upcoming year. A resolution could be something like being healthier or spending more time with the family. One reason that resolutions are infamous for failing may be because they often remain as just a hope for change without any planning.
A good way to plan to achieve a resolution is to think of it as a SMART goal; a goal that is specific, measureable, attainable, realistic and timely.
So let’s say you set a resolution to be healthier in 2012. When you’re counting down the end of the year on December 31st, how will you know whether you are healthier or not? You probably won’t if you don’t make your intentions more specific. How do you want to define better health for yourself? Is it lowering your cholesterol to a normal level by the end of the year? Or eating only 1 serving of junk food per week? Whatever it may be, it can’t be vague.
Specific goals are also often measurable goals. If you want to lower your cholesterol to a certain level, it isn’t difficult to track your progress as long as you get regular blood tests. Similarly, you can easily track the number of times you eat junk food on a calendar to see if you are getting closer to your goal.
There’s little point in setting a goal that isn’t attainable or realistic. For example, if you want to run a 5- minute mile in a month and absolutely hate running, you are likely setting yourself up for failure. Setting attainable and realistic goals requires a willingness to accomplish a goal. It is also necessary to use available strategies to accomplish your goal and to adjust goals as necessary. For example, you can replace running with cycling or swimming, and you can adjust the time frame to 2 months if you find that 1 month isn’t enough time.
Similarly, in order to lower your cholesterol you can employ strategies such as remembering to take your medications regularly and eating more vegetables. You can also adjust the cholesterol level you want to achieve if you realize that your original goal isn’t achievable as easily as you once thought. Adjusting goals is normal and shouldn’t be considered to be a failure!
Setting a time-frame for your goals is also very important because it gives you a deadline to work towards. If you simply tell yourself that you will lower your cholesterol to a normal level and don’t specify a time, you may find yourself putting off any action towards your goal. Goals, therefore, need to be timely.
Wishing you the best and SMARTest year yet!