How are your New Year’s resolutions coming along? That good! Let’s see if we can fix that.
A tradition many of us hold dear to our hearts, is making New Year’s Resolutions. We start full of excitement and watch our goals slowly wither away. Why? We may be making them for the wrong reasons. If you are making a resolution because someone else suggested it, then it will most likely fail. Making resolutions is about specificity; if it is too vague, it will falter. If your resolution is as big as the sky, it may simply be out of your reach; this is about reality. However, the caveat is this: you will have setbacks and that’s normal but do not let one failure derail your plans. Get back on track and continue. To keep myself on track, I have built in rewards. For example, for every ten minutes I walk, I give myself an hour to pursue my passion, knitting. Of course, I can knit whenever I can find the time, but this little reward keeps me walking, and on some days, I might walk a few minutes longer knowing that I have a big knitting project to work on.
Let’s analyze the components for making resolutions that will be sensible, specific and within reach by applying the S.M.A.R.T. acronym. This concept was created to assist with managing goals and objectives in the professional domain, but the concept is easily adapted to many other situations, particularly making resolutions.
- S is for Specific: Just pick one thing to focus on. Rather than deciding that I am going to walk when I can to incorporate exercise into my life, I’d be better off setting down (on paper) the specific goal I am working toward, thirty to forty minutes three times per week. Or, if you are into steps, 4,000 to 5,000 steps three times per week. To ensure that I don’t let this slide, I schedule the days in advance.
- M is for Measurable: logging your progress measures your accuracy and inspires you to continue when the results are there in front of you. Yes, there’s an app for that.
- A is for Achievable: If I set my goal at 10,000 steps daily, I know I would become so overwhelmed, fearing failure and knowing that my goal was so foolish, asking myself, “what was I thinking?” that I would fail at the get-go. My goal is very achievable and very satisfying. “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” so advised Benjamin Franklin – take heed, he was right.
- R is for Realistic or Relevant: Does this resolution really matter to me? Do I like to walk? If not, sadly my resolution is not worth the paper it’s written on. If this describes you, refine your resolution so that it is relevant.
- T is for Time-bound or Time-related: This may be specific to the day or time that you install your resolution or spread out over a specific period to test its accuracy. In other words, will I try this for a few months and then reassess? If this behavior is to become habitual, then I must give it time to infiltrate into my being, particularly if this is a new activity.
Self-care Ritual: My New Year’s resolution revolves around my health, believing what Edward Stanley said, “Those who do not find time for exercise will have to find time for illness.” I walk on a regular basis and one day, my neighbor exclaimed when he saw me parking my car, “I didn’t know that you drove!” Another self-care ritual comes around each year on my birthday for that is the time I schedule my well-woman physical and any yearly tests that are requested. The best birthday present ever is when I hear, “see you next year!”
Doran, George T. (1981). "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives," Management Review, published November 1981, Vol. 70, Issue 11, pp. 35-36.