With the New Year among us, we are vigorously working towards our resolutions to become a healthier and fitter version of ourselves. More than half of goals set this time of the year are health-oriented and gym owners are glowing with more and more memberships. Even though people who set new year resolutions are 10-times more likely to reach their goals than those who don’t, those who do set resolutions still have a hard time keeping them. One study found about 46 percent of the population kept their new year resolution after six months and less than one in four people kept their resolution after two years. Don’t let your new year resolutions slip through your hands - follow the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timely) guidelines to develop or reassess your goals for the new year and make them stick.
- Make it Specific: How do you climb a mountain? One step at a time.
Whether you seek to lose 15 pounds, lower your cholesterol, or win your first half marathon, you are more likely to succeed if you break down how you will achieve that goal. If losing 15 pounds is your goal, then write down what actions you need to take and when you need to make them. For instance, don’t leave it at, “I will lose 15 pounds this year.” Instead, specify. “I will lose 15 pounds in 12 weeks by regularly exercising 5 times per week and eating healthier.” This way, you can envision your goal and how to achieve it more clearly. Doing so will prevent you from being overwhelmed and will build your confidence to tackle the next goal.
- Make it Measurable: You say jump, but exactly how high?
If you would like to lower your cholesterol, then how will you measure your progress? Sometimes knowing what you should do for your health isn’t enough. Learning the appropriate metrics is vital for understanding your baseline, monitoring your progress, and accomplishing your goal. Will you lower your LDL cholesterol? By how much?
- Make it Achievable: Don’t summit Mt. Everest if you haven’t summited your driveway.
One of the largest mistakes that people make when developing their new year resolutions is setting the bar too high. Losing twenty pounds in three weeks is both unrealistic and unhealthy. Wanting to complete your first marathon with only a month of training is setting yourself up for failure and probably some pain. Consulting with a healthcare professional will ensure that your goals are achievable and safe.
- Make it Relevant: Stay true to yourself.
When goal-setting, be sure that the goal is relevant to what you want to achieve in the short term and the long term. Consider how achieving this goal will impact you and those around you now and in the future. Additionally, contemplate what is motivating you. Understand that while extrinsic motivators like peer-pressure, status, or even romance are effective at pushing you in the right direction, it’s the intrinsic motivation that really counts. Work towards your goal for your own satisfaction and you will find intrinsic motivation.
- Make it Timely: The more deadlines the merrier…seriously.
Make sure to set a time frame around your goal. Setting a clear “start” and “end” date will prevent you from delaying your journey to achieving your goal. Also, adding in “check points” along the way will allow you to evaluate your progress as you march to that deadline. For example, say I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31st and I set one “checkpoint” every three months. This means I will have four checkpoints with the last one being my deadline. I will need to have lost five pounds by each checkpoint to stay on track to reach my goal. Take the time to sit down with your calendar and plan – it will pay off.
Best of luck with reaching your goals the S.M.A.R.T. way! If you need any assistance in developing a plan around your health or fitness goals, then please reach out to our team of experienced healthcare practitioners and exercise physiologists. Visit www.doctorspeck.com and www.potentrx.com to learn more on how we can serve you.