The new year is always a great time to reflect on the previous year; the things that worked for you and those that didn’t. It is in this contemplation that we often decide to change things for the betterment of ourselves and our loved ones. At the start of the new year, these changes traditionally take the form of New Year Resolutions, but what you’re actually doing is setting goals. While resolutions tend to fade away after February, setting SMART goals will ensure you maintain motivation and follow-through.
The best way to approach setting SMART goals is to set aside 30 minutes to an hour to set your intentions and home in on what you’re trying to achieve for yourself, your family or your business. If you’re having trouble finding the time and energy, read our article on boosting your energy levels in 2021. Dr. Naomi shares some great practical tips!
Describe what it is you’d like to achieve. The trick here is to be specific. For example, you want to exercise more in the new year, then . you’ll want to specify exactly what form of exercise you’d like to do. Perhaps you’d like to build strength, improve your flexibility, or both. Maybe this exercise will be a 15-minute walk every day. Be as specific as possible.
This step is important because it allows you to either work towards the achievement of the SMART goal and/or allows you to see your progress. As a result, here is where you want to consider: what it will look like when the goal is reached? This isn’t always a ‘number,’ it could be an event or an experience. In line with the example above, perhaps the measurable aspect of you exercising more is competing in Tough Mudder by the end of the year.
Don't put too much pressure on yourself early! It’s important that your goal is actually reachable, so small gradual steps are encouraged. The reason most new year resolutions fail is due to burnout, which happens when you overwhelm yourself early on and find it hard to maintain motivation or stay dedicated to the goal. An example of making your exercising goal attainable is to create a weekly workout plan (don’t forget to build in off/relax days!). For example, one week you may want to target the lower body, while the next you focus on upper body or flexibility. Here’s a great example of a workout plan.
SMART goals are beneficial because they force you to be realistic, which is often absent from new year resolutions. So, be practical and realistic about what you expect in return for what you put in. Also don’t be too hard on yourself because slow progress is still good progress, and its completely normal to feel like some weeks you’re not getting the return that you had previously, just stick with it!
Set dates and milestones for yourself to help track progress. Setting small goals that are ‘leading’ up to a big goal is a great approach to take. It will help motivate you to keep going by showing you that you are making some progress. These results are accumulative, meaning every small goal you tick off is putting you one step closer to achieving your ultimate goal.