New Year’s is the perfect time to hit the reset button — a fresh year represents a new start where you can commit to self improvement. I love the idea of establishing a New Year’s resolution to help kick start your healthy changes, but it’s hard to overlook the tendency of resolutions to fizzle out by the end of February.
To stretch the lifespan of your resolution and create a long-lasting behavior, try making it a very specific goal. The solution lies in a classic goal-setting acronym S.M.A.R.T.– Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound. By tailoring your resolution
Specific: Define what actions you need to do to achieve your goal
If your overall goal is to be healthier, ask yourself HOW you will do that. Perhaps you want to eat more vegetables, less fast-food, or fewer refined sugars.
Measurable: How will you measure your success?
Avoid just stating you’ll do something “more” or “less” (work out more, eat more fruit, drink less coffee) and instead add a defined target goal, like eating at least 1 serving of fruit a day or going to the gym 3 times a week.
These concrete numbers will help you keep better track of your progress by giving you a reference point.
Attainable: Set goals you can realistically achieve
This is a huge part of setting successful goals- choose something that is challenging but doable, to make sure you can see it through.
If you haven’t touched a vegetable in years, it would be ambitious to say you’ll eat 3 servings of veggies every day. If you try to add one serving per day, though, you may stick with it much longer.
Similarly, you’re more likely to stick to “cutting back” than you are to “cutting out” foods or behaviors that aren’t particularly healthful. This will lead to sustainable behavior change so you can turn your resolution into your new norm.
Relevant: Is this goal going to help you achieve your big picture goal?
Here’s the key question: Will the specific goal you’re setting help you achieve the overall desired outcome?
If the answer is yes, then you’ve set a goal that aligns with your overall vision of health (relevant!).
If the answer is no, then your focus may have shifted throughout the process, so center your attention back on what it is you really hope to achieve.
Time-Bound: Factor in frequency or deadlines for your goals
There is no right or wrong timeline for a goal– it is entirely up to your current habits and your desired outcomes.
You might resolve to start eating at least one vegetable per day, one vegetable serving per meal, one new vegetable each week… They’re all worthwhile goals with a timing-specific limit (per day, per meal, each week).
Defining this aspect of frequency will help you be consistent, keep track of your actions, and know whether or not you’re hitting your target.
If you make your goals S.M.A.R.T, you will be able to gauge your success, stay dedicated, and hopefully see your resolution through for the year to come!
Wishing you a very happy, healthy 2019!