The start of a New Year is a popular time for people to create resolutions, promises and goals for the future – but are you setting the best goals for yourself? Having long term and short term goals gives you something to strive for and effects your decision making in many different aspects of life, whether they relate to work, relationships, or personal life. It’s important to keep a few things in mind as you set goals for yourself in the New Year so that you can keep track of them and make sure that they are realistic for you.

SMART goal setting can help you effectively achieve your goals. Instead of having vague objectives, use this method to track and assess the progress you are making. Whether it’s a huge lifestyle change or a small weekly goal, using the SMART method can assist you in setting goals that are right for you. Try thinking of a small goal right now and see whether it meets the criteria below – we’ve used the example of losing weight, but you can choose anything! By using the SMART goal setting method, you can make your New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 a reality!

A S.M.A.R.T. goal needs to be:

  • Specific: Be specific about what you want to achieve! Know what you want to do, why you want to do it, when you want to do it by, and outline how you plan to achieve it. For example, don’t just think “I’ll get healthier” – make it your goal to lose a specific amount of weight and give yourself a deadline to do it by.
  • Measurable: Decide on some numbers – how many pounds will you lose? What date will you lose it by? How often will you check your progress?
  • Action-Oriented: What are you going to do to reach your goal? For example, if your plan is to lose 5 pounds every 3 months, plan out exactly how you’re going to achieve that goal with steps like cutting out refined sugars from your diet or getting at least 30 minutes of exercise 5 times a week.
  • Realistic: Don’t set a goal that is out of your reach – it’s unrealistic to expect yourself to lose 5 pounds every week – and you’ll only feel disheartened when you end up not achieving what you set out to do. Focus on smaller intermediate steps so that you can continue to take steps towards a bigger goal.
  • Timely: Don’t procrastinate! Know when you want to achieve your goal by and commit yourself to making that happen.

Sources: Mayo Clinic, ACE Fitness, UMASS Dartmouth. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only. For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.