Try this SMART exercise for any resolution you have in mind for 2021.
It’s predictable. People choose healthier living, whether that’s in the form of eating better, getting more quality sleep, losing weight, or quitting an unhealthy habit, as their resolution for the New Year.
New Year’s Resolutions usually result from high emotions that kick in at the thought of the fresh start of a New Year (a blank canvas)!
But when it comes down to it, real change is hard.
Most resolutions fail because the focus and drive to succeed declines as emotions wane. It’s just easier to fall back into the comfort of old-established habits, whether favorable or otherwise. And most of the time, people are unaware of the shift backward; they wake up one day and realize they’ve totally gone off track.
Now that’s SMART!
That’s why, to produce lasting change, you need to have a plan. You can map out personal, family, fitness, or financial goals for the New Year much as you do for your business goals. Try using SMART Goals (Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based) for your ambitions outside of your workplace. The SMART Goals process can help you define and solidify your plans to succeed outside of work.
Here’s how this works. Suppose you want to lose weight after the holiday feasts so you can keep the clothes you have and feel great. Or, more than that, you want to be able to buy and fit into smaller clothes.
S – Saying you want to lose thirty pounds is more specific than saying you want to lose weight.
Ask yourself the “who/what/where/when/why” questions. For example:
- WHO will be involved in the process? Will you enlist an accountability partner?
- WHAT will you need to accomplish this goal? A gym membership? Meal subscription?
- WHERE is the best place for you to focus on this goal? At home – definitely not on vacation!
- WHEN do you want to start and end? Be specific with dates.
- And WHY do you want to lose those pounds? That may seem obvious, but if you don’t dig deep, you will quickly lose focus and revert to old ways without even knowing you did that – until it’s too late. One out-of-focus moment leads to another.
M – Keeping a food journal and regularly weighing yourself on a scale will measure your progress and keep you on track. Establish how much time you will commit to executing your plan (i.e., exercising and preparing meals).
A – It is possible to lose 1-2 pounds a week. Don’t shoot for more than that. Examine how others have attained their weight loss goals in this way, slowly and steadily, and can successfully keep the weight off. Don’t say you want to lose 100 pounds in a month (silly example, but you get the point). Avoid extreme and lofty unattainable goals. Keep practicality in mind.
R – Is the intent of your goal relevant or related to something bigger than the goal itself? Does it make sense to set this as a goal? This question prevents setting frivolous goals that are disconnected from what’s important. In this case, losing weight promotes health for life – so, yes – it’s relevant.
T – At the rate of 1-2 pounds per week, it will take 15-17 weeks. Set a start and end time. If you begin in January, you’ll be ready to hit the beach (or your pool) before summer. Factor in the time you may go off track because “life happens.”
The occasional off-road experience
Speaking of going off track, it helps to identify potential pitfalls you may encounter along the way and have a plan to overcome them. Be on the offense! In our example of weight loss, you might think about upcoming events that could sabotage your efforts. Think through what you will eat before you attend an event and stick to it. Gatherings are limited right now, so take advantage of this time, plan your meals, and focus on your plan.
If you’re going to start a gym membership in January, promise yourself to keep a regimen going past the time others trail off and discontinue. Most will give up and stop going to the gym past March. This is because they have no plan for how to overcome scheduling or motivational obstacles. Decide now to continue.
Confront the voices
When you are faced with the voices in your head begging you to skip the gym or healthy meal “this one time,” be ready with a come-back. Keeping your goals in front of you will help you see victory over the bumps in the road.
One suggestion: Hire a trainer. You’ll have to keep session appointments, and you’re monetarily invested.
If you’d like, use a vision board to create a picture of what you’d like to accomplish. Work backward from your end date to break down your goals. Then record the needed steps to achieve them into a planner. Remind yourself of your weekly goals tied to the big goal you want to achieve. They say, “Out of sight, out of mind.” You want to keep your goals in front of you where you can see them, so you don’t lose your focus.
Then, take time to celebrate your “wins.” Losing 2 pounds in your first week is a WIN! Don’t focus on the 28 you have left to lose. Next week, focus on losing two more, celebrate your progress, and move on. Stay in that positive flow and it will help you succeed.
Setting SMART Goals to make significant changes in the New Year will help you define precisely what you wish to change, how, and by when.
If you are “sick of being overweight,” that can produce powerful emotions and a feeling of motivation that will help you succeed. But the key is to not base resolutions solely on emotions or intense feelings.
How you feel can change when faced with a treat you can’t resist. Deception creeps in, you give in one time, and that can derail your progress or the positive mindset you had on January first. Thus, the term “yoyo dieting” was created.
But an intentional, attainable, and well laid-out plan for success
can help you keep your New Year’s Resolutions and achieve your personal SMART Goals for 2021.
Make this year different!