Ah January. The first month of a new year holds so much potential for us and our New Years Resolutions as we strive to eat healthier, study more or just generally be better. However, much like most of the world, as February fast approaches, it is likely that you have already faced the disappointment of failure as your goals for the New Year have fallen to the wayside for one reason or another. Upsetting right? You were so ready to change but the mountain top already seems so far away. Why even try? It’s a pretty depressing state to be in right?
What if I told you that maybe you’re not to blame for this failure, but rather it was the insurmountable nature of the goal you set and its unachievably high stakes and pressure it put on you. What if I told you that you should have climbed a hill first before you tried to tackle Mt Everest. What I am referring to is making SMART goals.
SMART goals refers to the acronymic tool for systematically building and achieving goals and objectives in achievable terms – like New Years Resolutions! SMART goals are
Lets take losing weight as an example of how to create a smart goal.
To start us off, lets make our goal of “weight loss” more specific. What is it you ACTUALLY want to achieve with your weight? Set some numbers in place. For the sake of this example, our specifics here will be “I want to lose 15kgs”.
Now that we have a specific goal of 15kgs, we must make this more measurable. “But I already have the measure of 15kg?” you might say. Yes, you have your number, but its arbitrary. Lets give it some meaning by making in measurable. How can we track it? For us, lets track it weekly. “I can weigh myself weekly to track my goal.”
This is where things get difficult. Are your goals obtainable? For many who have non-smart goals like “I want to lose weight”, many might have in there mind that they want the body of a Greek God in a single year. Good luck! If you find a way to do that, email me. So, how do we make the goal attainable? Starting small is a good idea in this space. Lets look at our SMART goal of 15kgs again. IS it attainable to lose this in a year? Its possible, but its difficult without a lot of diet and exercise. Lets lower the goal posts a little to make it more attainable eh? “I want to lose 15kgs 10kgs, I will track it weekly to keep on track with my goal”. Already sounding pretty good!
By now, you can tell our smart goal is getting a bit more complex than what you might have first thought. This is a good thing! Being more specific means gives you more to work with. Basing a goal in reality improves our ability to achieve it because, surprise surprise, its realistic! Take our goal to lose weight for example, it is unrealistic to assume we could lose 10kgs without changes to our lifestyle like diet an exercise. We may start off small, a salad for lunch, a light walk around the block, but each of these makes our goal more realistic as we bend reality to favour a positive result. Lets add something to our goal to reflect this. “I want to lose 10kgs. I will track my weight weekly to keep on track with my goal. I can realistically achieve this by improving my diet and exercise slowly over time.”
We’ve done the work, now its about giving ourselves a dead line. Adding a boundary for time helps with achieving goas as it gives us an incentive to work towards a deadline but also gives you a set point to reflect on how well you’re doing and to see if your goal needs to change. Lets look at our goal again to add boundaries for timing. Luckily for us, New Years Resolutions often come with an inbuilt one by their very nature. One year! Lets polish off our smart goal
“I want to lose 10kgs. I will track my weight weekly to keep on track with my goal. I can realistically achieve this by improving my diet and exercise slowly over time. I will give myself one year to work on this and will review my progress”.
You might still be a little upset about how your New Years goals panned out over January. I understand that, I do. It can be upsetting to build up your expectations of yourself and to feel like you failed. Hopefully, dear reader, if you will cut yourself a little slack and try creating smart goals out of your New Years resolutions that didn’t quite pan out. Using this new method of creating goals, hopefully you will come to recognise that failure isn’t when you slip up on your goal, its when you stop pursuing it all together.
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Written by Evan Morris