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Make Your New Year’s Resolution SMART:  Five Steps to Stick to Your New Year’s Resolution

By: Helen Murdoch

Counsellor at: Sustainable Life Counselling

    New Year, new me, you say to yourself, and you start setting some goals. Six months later, failure occurs. Why does this happen to so many of our new year’s resolutions? Probably because we have set unrealistic goals.

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    Ask yourself before you make that promise or resolution, “Is this a S.M.A.R.T goal?” That is, is it, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely? Say for example, you have set your goal to lose some weight in the New Year. That is NOT a SMART goal. You are potentially setting yourself up for failure, because you have not quite got a specific, realistic and measurable goal. The acronym S.M.A.R.T has developed over time by many authors, but is said to have begun with the work of Peter Drucker, (American management consultant, author and educator). Regardless of the origin, S.M.A.R.T Goals are a great way to assist with goal setting.

    So, instead of making a general statement like, “I want to lose weight in 2018”, use some or all of the tips from the S.M.A.R.T goals acronym. To do this you would ask yourself the following five questions:

1. Is my goal Specific enough to achieve what I want to achieve? (What specifically do I want to lose weight for and why? The purpose is paramount to our decision. Research suggests that goals set without purpose or meaning are often less likely to occur. Is your goal to lose weight going to align with your existing values or is it a meaningless pursuit to look more like a magazine cover girl?)

2. Can I Measure the outcome in any way? (How will I know when I have achieved my goal if I do not have a form of measurement. You might set your goal to lose 10kg in 10 months etc.)

3. Is this goal Attainable? (Have I tried and failed before? Have other people got good examples that I might follow rather than my own plan? Can I attain my weight loss goal myself or do I need support?)

4. Is this a Realistic goal? (Have I done any research to see what a realistic weight loss timeline might look like? Do I really want to lose weight or do I want to feel healthier?)

5. Is my goal Timely? (Have I set myself a timeframe in which to achieve my goal? Without a specific timeframe our goal can get put aside in times of stress and put off until things in our life are “better”, but this may never happen. So without a timeframe our goal may not come to fruition.)

    Something else to remember to help us stay on track with our goal is to celebrate when we have made progress, and also to allow for some setbacks. When setting your goal, set some mini goals along the way that you can realistically achieve and then celebrate them. You could shout yourself a new outfit or a massage each time your mini goal is achieved. You also have to ask yourself, ”If I have a setback what can I do about it?” Often we beat ourselves up for not achieving our goals and then give up because we have had a minor setback. Write yourself some notes that will help you when you are in times of stress and can’t quite manage to stick to your plan. Say for example you have a lot of functions on and know that it will not be possible to stick to your eating plan, then ask yourself how you might still maintain your goal rather than have a big blow out and be back to square one. For example, you might say something like, “I know this month will be difficult to stick to my plan, but I will still record the food I eat in my diary so that I know how much off track I am.” Or you could write yourself a post it note to remind yourself that achieving your goal will help you live the life your want but setbacks can always be overcome. For example, “Even though my goal is to be healthier and to lose 10 kg’s in 10 months, if I do not achieve this it does not mean I am a failure, it is just a minor setback and I can still achieve my goal to be healthier and lose weight.”

Finally, research shows that feeling connected can help us maintain our goals, so don’t forget to try to link up with other people who have similar goals or a therapist who can help you to achieve your goals, such as myself, at Sustainable Life Counselling. Happy New Year and I hope you can kick some SMART goals this year.