“This year will be the year that I…”
The clock struck 12:00 am, the fireworks ceased and your hangover finally wore off.
You decided that this year will be the year in which you stick to your New Year’s resolutions. The grim statistics, however, tell us that of the 63% of people who actually make resolutions, only 8% succeed?!
Is the very idea of New Year’s resolutions somehow cursed? Not at all. Most of us do not follow through with our resolutions because the goals we set do not follow the S.M.A.R.T.E.R concept.
Before you think about accomplishing a goal, you must first learn to effectively set your goal. Contrary to popular belief regarding New Year’s resolutions, your goals can be attained with precision and ease!
The acronym S.M.A.R.T.E.R stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-sensitive, Evaluate, Reevaluate.
If your New Year’s resolution does not address each S.M.A.R.T.E.R component, it is likely to end up on the back burner by February 1st.
Do not fall victim to the simple mistake of failing to map out your goal properly! If you’re going to invest weeks of sweat and endure burning muscles to achieve your fitness goals, make sure you know in advance what your road to success will look like.
You Need To Make Your Goal SPECIFIC:
Suppose your New Year’s fitness resolution for 2015 is to gain more flexibility. Simply stating that this year you will become more flexible, won’t magically bestow you with the flexibility of a Cirque du Soleil contortionist.
You must start your quest by creating a personal RAS (Resolution-Action-Statement). Write down exactly what you expect to achieve, why it is important, who’s involved, where it is going to happen and which attributes are important.
Be specific! For example, your written goal may look like this: “I will lose 24 lbs of fat; 2 lbs per month; by working out 2 times a week so that I will fit into my jeans again by the end of the coming year.”
Or, if we are using the flexibility example, you could write:
“I will gain flexibility and mobility primarily in my back, shoulders, hip flexors, hamstrings, glutes, and calves by dedicating 15-20 minutes of my workout time to stretching 5 times per week. It is important to me to increase mobility given my sedentary job, to compliment strength training and to prevent injury. I will work on flexibility at the gym and consult a trainer and/or yoga instructor for proper technique, feedback and specific movements. It will be important to be consistent (which means that I may have to stretch at home if I cannot make it to the gym) and to be patient (to prevent pulling muscles).”
You Need To Make Your Goal MEASURABLE:
In order to gauge your progress towards your New Year’s resolution, you must be able to measure your progress. For example, how would you measure an increase in flexibility at the end of the year?
Perhaps, it means being able to touch your toes with ease. For others, it may mean that you no longer have lower back pain. It could also mean increased range of motion in your squat and shoulder press.
You Need To Make Your Goal ATTAINABLE:
Make sure your resolution is within your reach. Are you prepared and capable to perform what is required?
If, for example, your goal is to lose weight but you aren’t mentally prepared to take steps necessary to succeed, then the odds are against you.
Ensure that there are no outside factors that may sabotage your success. In our flexibility resolution, you may consider any underlying injuries or structural issues that may hinder your success.
In this case, you would need to consult third or fourth parties, such as a posturologist, osteopath and/or naturopath.
You Need To Make Your Goal RELEVANT:
Make sure that your resolution is something that is relevant to your lifestyle.
Will attaining your goal make you feel better on a day-to-day basis? You are about to make a commitment that requires sacrifices, so ensure that the resolution is truly important to you.
For example, if flexibility is something you keep reading about in magazines and hearing about from your trainer, but you don’t truly care about, then this goal is not (yet) relevant to you.
Do not force a resolution that you do not care enough about.
You Need To Make Your Goal TIME-SENSITIVE:
If you don’t have a time frame in which to complete your resolution, you will lose focus and ultimately drop the goal.
As much as deadlines make our blood pressure rise and our hearts beat faster, the urgency that they produce is essential when working towards a goal.
That being said, do not stress yourself out by setting a deadline that is unreasonable or that causes the aforementioned physical symptoms. Estimate a time frame and adjust it if needed, as you progress.
Setting a deadline for a goal will ensure that your resolution remains a priority, when day-to-day crises arise.
For example, a time-sensitive goal will answer “when?”, “what can I do 6 months from now?”, “what can I do 6 weeks from now?” and “what can I do today?”.
Answering these questions will also help you clarify specificity, measurability and attainability of your goal.
You Need To EVALUATE Your Progress:
Ensure that you include evaluation and feedback in your resolution plan.
This is where you may need others to help you evaluate your progress along the way. For example, fitness goals may require a trainer or nutritionist/naturopath to help evaluate success and way-forward actions.
For instance, suppose you have been following your flexibility plan for weeks and see minimal improvement. It may be time to first evaluate the progress made and then to re-evaluate how to proceed.
Be ready to RE-EVALUATE Your Progress:
You’ve reached an evaluation point in your resolution plan and met with your trainer.
You have made progress, but at a slower pace than anticipated. No problem!
You will have to adjust your time frame. The very nature of a goal is that it is something that does not yet exist in its final shape. This means that there is bound to be instances of re-evaluation.
A goal is malleable and therefore requires you to remain flexible.
Remember that reevaluating does not mean failure. It simply means that you are actively controlling the path to ultimate success!
We won’t wish you “good luck” on the road to achieving your New Year’s resolutions, because with S.M.A.R.T.E.R goal-setting, you will be taking the “luck” out of the equation.
Happy New Year 2015!
Photo Credit: cover photo