“New Year, New You” is a catch-phrase uttered every year by fitness clubs and workout programs across the country. New Year’s is a popular time for people to set resolutions for the coming annum. It’s a time to tell yourself how you’re going to do it differently this year, that this time it’s for real, and it’s going to happen. Inevitably people give up. They stop going to the gym a month in, start smoking again, or still haven’t saved money. The reality is that many resolutions are poorly thought out, with little or no planning or accountability.

Be SMART for Success

In order to set successful and lasting goals, one must adhere to several rules of regular goal setting. First and foremost, your goal needs to be SMART.

SMART is an acronym that is used by many professionals and organizations to set goals that have meaning and are practical.

  • S stands for specific
  • M for measurable
  • A for attainable
  • R for realistic
  • T is for timely or timelines

To illustrate, let’s look at the goal to get in shape. SMART goal setting would dictate that you need to decide what “in shape” specifically means to you. To be Specific, you might say you want to be able to do something that you couldn’t do before, such as run a 10K race. To be Measurable, your goal might say you have to lose 20 pounds. To be Attainable, you would want to indicate that you actually have the ability to run or even work out. To be Realistic, you could look for steps to move toward your goal, steps that would help you run 2K now and, with some practice, 10K in your future. And finally, to be Timely, you would set a timeline to be able to achieve certain things. The first month might be dedicated to 3K and 3 pounds.

An important and often overlooked aspect in setting goals is to make sure that you can be held accountable to them. Make sure you tell someone you trust, give them a copy of your plan or ask them to check in with you to see how you’re doing.

With these SMART steps in place, you should be well on your way to many successes in the new year.