Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions

With 2019 just around the corner, you might be thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. Is getting healthy on the list? How about losing weight or exercising more? If so, you’re not alone. Research shows that resolutions to lose weight and get healthy are some of the most popular.

Unfortunately, despite best intentions, only a small percentage of resolution setters actually reach and maintain their goal for a long period of time. If you fall into the category of folks who swear that this will be the year of change and then somehow fall off the bandwagon, it’s okay! Families are busy, work is stressful, sleep is hard to come by…we understand that cooking a healthy meal or exercising might not be at the top of your priority list once you get into the thick of 2019. But, this New Year, you can take a SMART approach to setting goals and build a framework for making them successful.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. We’re going to break down the SMART tactic to setting New Year’s resolutions and help you figure out how to achieve your goals.

SPECIFIC: When thinking about your resolution, ask yourself if you’ll be able to tell if the goal has been met or not. When you’re working towards something that has a specific, focused, result, you’ll be more likely to stay on track, versus trying to accomplish something that has an undefined, general, result. For example, instead of promising yourself, “I will eat healthy,” commit to something more tangible, like, “I will eat a piece of fruit with my breakfast.” At the end of the day, you’ll be able to look back and determine whether you did-or did not-eat that piece of fruit.

MEASURABLE: Making your resolution measurable means that you’ll be able to put a numerical benchmark on the goal. By adding a quantitative value, you’ll be able to concisely track and manage progress toward your goal. For example, you might craft a goal like, “I will take three 10-minute walks throughout the day,” instead of something more vague like, “I will exercise more.” With a value attached to your goal, you’ll be able to count the minutes and know whether or not you were successful.

ATTAINABLE: A goal within your reach is more likely to keep you motivated and set you up for success. However, if you set a goal that’s too easy, you won’t feel challenged and could feel like you haven’t made real progress. Set a goal that’s doable given your current health condition, but will push you and leave you feeling proud. For example, if you haven’t exercised in years, are a few pounds overweight and have recently quit smoking, don’t set a goal of spending hours training for a marathon. A better goal for you might be to take a 15-minute walk around the block every other day. And, if that’s too much, drop it down to a 10-minute walk and work your way upward. It’s a measurable goal and you’ll be more likely to stick to the plan if you feel good doing it.

REALISTIC: When looking at your goal through a realistic lens, consider barriers to achieving your goal. These barriers could be your work schedule, budget concerns, family obligations and more. Just because you’re setting healthy goals-great job doing so!-doesn’t mean the rest of your life will pause. For example, if you’d like to take Zumba more regularly, it’d be unrealistic to say that you’ll take a $20 class every day when your work schedule really only allows for classes on the weekends and your budget is limited to $10 per class. Instead, you might set a more realistic goal of paying for an online Zumba class for $5 and doing it on Saturday mornings, before your day is filled with commitments.

TIMELY: The most successful goals also include a time limit for them to be achieved. Choosing the time period is a balance between giving yourself enough time for the goal to be reached, but not so much time that you procrastinate or forget about the goal. For example, your 2019 resolution might be, “I will lose 10 pounds in the next 3 months,” instead of, “I will lose 10 pounds this year.” Since transforming your health is a process and not an instant change, you’ll want to make sure to set a time limit that is safe, doable and keeps you motivated.

Now that you know all about setting SMART goals, you’re ready to start 2019 on a healthy foot and help yourself reach, and maintain, your healthy resolutions!

If you need help setting SMART goals, or have other health questions, please feel free to call a Living Healthier coach at 1-844-262-6224. It’s a free resource and they also speak Spanish. They’re available M-F, from 9am-6pm, and you can learn more and set up an appointment here: https://itstimetexas.org/livinghealthier/