I’m writing today’s article just after Labor Day, which is a long way from the New Year’s Resolution “season”, but over the long weekend, I got to thinking about how life somehow rushes by so quickly, and we lose track of those well-intentioned goals. I read a statistic that over 90% of New Year’s resolutions are never kept! Whether it is about getting in better financial shape, eating healthier, or quitting an unhealthy “vice”, by the time we turn the calendar page to the month of February, most of our resolutions are a distant memory. Perhaps this is because the “right” resolutions were not created.
For most of us, resolutions like “Losing 15lbs”, or “get in great shape” is not nearly enough to help really inspire us to make a positive change. Here is a 7 step checklist you can follow using SMART guidelines (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, time-bound) to help you create compelling goals that inspire enthusiasm and urgency, so you can confidently realize those resolutions this year, and apply them to any goal, for years to come!
1. BE SPECIFIC. Set specific, tangible goals. Whether you are setting goals in your personal life, or in business, a clear target will enable you to d0 the work you want to do and to become the kind of person you want to become. Be clear. Be specific. “I will set my alarm an hour earlier so I can exercise before work on Tuesdays and Thursdays” is a lot better than, “I will lose 10 pounds in time for my sister’s wedding.”
2. MAKE IT MEASURABLE. “Get in better shape” works much better if you have some kind of benchmark to measure against. Will you be tracking your calories, pounds, reps, miles? Reward yourself for small victories (but not by eating a hot fudge sundae!)
3. MAKE IT ATTAINABLE. An ideal goal is one where you will need to stretch a little to get out of your comfort zone. Your goal, while challenging, should be attainable with some effort and consistency. If you aim too high, it can be overwhelming. Too low? A cake walk, and possibly boredom. Find that “happy place” and make it work for you.
4. BE REALISTIC. If you set a goal to completely cut out high calorie drinks, and you currently down three Mountain Dews and a latte everyday, this isn’t realistic. How about one per day? You can always strive to slowly transition to your “ideal” over time.
5. MAKE IT TIME-BOUND. Specific deadlines propel you into action and create a sense of urgency. Announce your timeline to the world, to a close friend, or even just to yourself by writing it on your calendar. Hold yourself accountable to the schedule.
6. IDENTIFY YOUR WHY. This step is ever so important! There needs to be an EMOTIONAL connection to your goal. WRITE DOWN YOUR WHY on paper! Make it visible…on your computer, in your calendar, on your bathroom mirror, wherever! This will be a KEY motivating factor during those times when things get challenging. Without your WHY, you are more apt to give up, saying, “Oh well, I guess I couldn’t do it – again.” DON’T give up! Remember your WHY!
7. TAKE CONSISTENT ACTION! Only YOU can make it happen! Believe it or not, life will go on, whether you meet your goal or not. Ask yourself WHY you set the goal in the first place and then DO what it takes to help you get there with consistency. If your goal is better fitness, this may mean connecting with a trainer, joining a workout group, or starting one of your own. If your goal is to get out of debt, it might mean setting up an envelope system for easier tracking of where your dollars are going throughout the week/month. Daily actions will result in success and you WILL move forward!
It has been said that a goal without a plan is just a WISH. Reaching a challenging goal is not an easy task. Of course, if you”wing it”, you increase the chance of failure. Don’t end up in that 90% of people who give up on their resolutions when life got in the way. Follow these SMART steps and you will increase your chances of SUCCESS tremendously, and who knows, your resolution to live a healthier, fitter lifestyle may just last well past January 1.