SMART Goals: A better approach to New Years Resolutions

Traditionally people make new years resolutions this time of year and often they don’t achieve their resolution. Part of the reason they fail may be to do with the lack of goal setting around their resolution. If you’ve made a New Years resolution you may wish to use today’s method to set some goals for yourself surrounding your resolution. Research has shown goal setting of any kind is be better than no kind at all however the SMART goal approach is used in work places, by athletes and by health professionals to help their patients set rehabilitation goals just to name a few. It’s what we were trained to use as Clinical Pilates instructors to help set goals for our clients; as part of our study we had to use it on ourselves and others and I found it to be the most effective form of setting goals I have come across so far; I hope you find it as useful as I do!

What is a SMART Goal?

A SMART goal is an acronym to assist in making a goal.

S – Specific

M– Measurable

A – Achievable

R – Resonant

T – Timely

It differs from setting a broad goal by giving a comprehensive vision of what your goal looks like and gives you something to action straight away.

How do I use the SMART Goal system?

  1. Write down your big goal or in this case write down your New Years Resolution   (example – Drop a dress size by eating healthy and exercising regularly)

  2. Write down the first step you need to make in order to achieve your goal, this will become your SMART goal                                                                                                     (example – Exercise three times per week)

  3. Expand the first step to achieving your goal into the SMART acronym
    • Specific (example – I will exercise at my gym on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays just before lunch for 30-60 minutes) Notice the Specific included where I would do it, dates and times I would do it and how long I would do it for on each occasion.

    • Measurable (example – I will cross off the days on a calendar each time I go to the gym so I can see my progress, I will follow a strength training program so that I will feel stronger and I will update my program every 4 months!) For a goal to be measurable you need to come up with something that will be different when you’re finished, something to let you know you’ve completed your goal.

    • Achievable (example – I have already been going to the gym twice a week regularly for over a year so I feel I can easily add one more session in per week) To effectively ask yourself if this goal is achievable you need to consider  what stage of behavioral change you are at surrounding this goal. The example is at the action part of behavior change.
      • Denial “I don’t need to change” (SMART goal not appropriate at this time)
      • Procrastination “I know I need to change but…” (Just try some things)
      • Sporadic Action “I’m struggling to maintain a routine” (Make an easier, more achievable plan than you’ve tried so far)
      • Action “I’m doing it” (Gradually build the intensity or duration of the goal)
      • Maintenance “I do it consistently” (Add variety and challenge)

    • Resonant (example – I go to the gym on Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays just before lunch for at least 30 minutes) This “I am” styled sentence becomes your goal. Make sure it is a grammatically correct sentence and get congruent agreement, you should feel fantastic about this goal, say it with power!

    • Timely (example – Deadline is 30th April 2017 at which time I will upgrade my program with a Personal Trainer to keep things interesting) Write down the exact date and time of the deadline for completion for this goal.

  4. Now you have your goal, congratulations! Next write your goal down with you’re favourite pen on your favourite paper and stick it up all over the place! Put one on the bathroom mirror, one near the kettle, one in the bedroom where you will see it when you wake up. Ideally stick your goals up in 5 different places. You can have more than 1 goal on each piece of paper but your main or most important goal should stand out the most or be at the top. I use photo paper with a felt tip pin so it stands out and that way I can use different inspiring colours as well. Once you feel like that goal is a reality or you have moved into a different stage of the behavioural changes (see step 3  – Achievable) make sure you update your goal by going through the same process.

I hope you take the time to use this approach and that you get as much out of it as I do. I have just used it to work out my schedule for the next month so that I focus on what is most important to me at this time. If you get stuck try searching google images for SMART goals sometimes there are worksheets available that lay it out and all you have to do is fill in the blanks. If you’re working on something specific feel free to bring it along to your next Myotherapy session and we can spend the first 5 minutes on it. Happy New Year! May 2017 be your best year yet!


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