Setting SMARTER Resolutions for the New Year

It’s that time again, the time of year when we look around at our hectic lives and eye our burgeoning waistlines with trepidation. It’s time to set some new goals for the coming year – resolutions for making our lives that much better. If you have tried in the past and failed, the good news is the New Year comes around every 365 days and with it the opportunity to try again in these SMARTER ways.

Specific – A resolution should be specific if it’s going to be accomplished. What is the goal? Who will need to be on board? Where and when will you work on it? These are things to think through before beginning. For example, instead of setting a goal to “spend more time with the family,” it would be more specific for your goal to be, “come home early two nights a week for an uninterrupted family dinner.”

Measurable – If you don’t measure your progress, how will you know if you are making any? Measuring your gains along the way can be motivating, as well as help you set the pace for accomplishing them. If you want to lose 15 pounds, set a healthy rate of losing 1-2 pounds a week and weigh yourself at each week’s end to check your progress. Set a timeline, including a couple extra weeks for when life gets in the way, and get started.

Attainable – That marathon might not be the best idea if you haven’t run since 8th grade gym class. That’s not to say that it’s not eventually doable, but it’s best to set yourself up for success with smaller realistic goals when working towards something grand. Once you’ve accomplished that fun run, move on to a 5K and keep going until you’ve reached your goal.

Relevant – When you think about your resolutions for the New Year, prioritize what is most important. What is the most relevant to your daily life in bringing you happiness and fulfillment? It might be attending church more regularly, keeping a more organized home, or taking the time to de-stress each day with meditation. Whatever it is, make sure it’s worth the time and energy of working towards. Write down why the goal you chose is important to you and keep it handy for inspiration when you need it.

Timely – Set some time limits on your resolutions. Things that don’t HAVE to get done today, have a tendency to be put off until tomorrow. Whether it’s a time table based on the calendar or an upcoming event, create a sense of urgency by giving yourself a set period of time to accomplish each part of your goal. Use a calendar to track your progress and plan for a celebration when you have met your goal!

Expectant – Set positive expectations. Even if you’ve failed in the past, there is still time to achieve your goals. Your mindset often dictates your self-talk, which impacts your determination and motivation. Having positive expectations increases the likelihood that setbacks will not put you off course and that you will ultimately achieve your goal. If you find you’re having trouble thinking positively, engage some friends in the role of coach with the prearranged agreement you can call on them when you need some encouragement.

Rewarding – When you have achieved that goal, make sure you take the time to celebrate. While some goals will be intrinsically rewarding and others will attract positive feedback from the people around you, you may also want to plan a tangible reward for all of your hard work. Whether it’s a dinner out, a new outfit, or a splurge in your favorite salon, take the time to savor and celebrate what you have achieved.