When we set New Year’s resolutions, we often forget to take enough time to make sure we’re setting goals we can really meet. Sure, “lose weight” sounds like a good goal, but it’s actually too vague to be easy achieved.
Instead, use this checklist to help you set SMART goals – goals that are Specific, Actionable, Measurable, Realistic and Timely.
What is Your Goal?
☐ Start by setting one overall goal e.g. “to lose weight”
☐ Next, write down a more specific figure for this goal e.g. “to lose 20 lbs”
☐ To get even more motivated, think about why you want to meet this goal – for example, to feel more confident, to have more energy to play with your kids etc.
When Will You Achieve It?
☐ Now it’s time to set a date by which you need to achieve your goal. Remember, this needs to be realistic e.g. “lose 10 lbs by March”
☐ Next, divide your goal by how much time you have left e.g. “lose 1 lb per week from now until the end of April”
This will give you healthy, attainable milestones. Tracking and celebrating each milestone like this will make it much more likely that you’ll see success!
How Will You Achieve It?
☐ Now is the time to consider if you need anything else to help you achieve your goal, such as new equipment, or if you need the help of anyone else, such as a workout buddy or an exercise class.
☐ You also need to figure out how you’re going to make time in your schedule. Be specific here – an example could be deciding to wake up 30 minutes earlier each day or walking to work instead of driving to get more exercise.
☐ It might help to list out every single step here – e.g. you’ll start by signing up for the gym and then you’ll go to the gym 3 days per week or walk to work 2 days per week.
Record Your Progress
☐ Now that you’ve got a concrete goal, note down how things currently are. If you want to lose weight, weigh and measure yourself and take a photograph as evidence. If you want to stop smoking, note down how many you smoke per day now.
☐ Every week, update your progress journal (this can be a simple notebook). It really does make a difference when you track your progress and see that things are improving, even if slowly!
☐ If it helps, come up with a reward system. E.g. after 4 weeks of working out according to your schedule, you’ll buy yourself some new clothes you’ve had your eye on.
All of this might seem like overkill for setting a simple New Year’s Resolution, but it really isn’t! Unfortunately, the majority of New Year’s Resolutions never last beyond a few days in January. Following this checklist is how you’ll make sure yours sees it through to the finish line!
I actually started my goal making last year. I decided to get serious about losing weight and living healthier. Rather than try to change my entire lifestyle at once, I’m making baby steps to make sure these changes stick. Resolutions aren’t about trying to do everything at once… but rather small steps to a big chance.
This post was originally published on Dec. 13, 2013.