Every year we make New Year’s Resolutions and almost every year we end up forgetting them by Valentine’s Day. Why do we fail to achieve these goals we set annually?
Whether it be to lose weight, eat fewer sweets, or quit smoking; why is it that we find ourselves abandoning our gym membership, going back to the candy aisle, and buying another pack after saying we wouldn’t?
While I’d love to sit here and say that I know the magical answer that will solve your specific problem, I can’t.
What I can do, however, is tell you what I did to lose 60 pounds, stop drinking, and improve my work habits in 2020; a year that was crazy enough to make you pick up a drinking habit.
Wikipedia defines a New Year’s Resolution as a tradition, in which a person resolves to continue good practices, change an undesired trait or behavior, accomplish a personal goal, or otherwise improve their life at the start of a new year.
Everyone is so hopeful when the ball drops, and the confetti is flying.
“This year is going to be different.”
“This is going to be my year!”
But too often this hope leads to statistics like 80% of January gym-joiners quit within five months.
While hopes and dreams are great, they are easily rerouted. We aren’t holding ourselves accountable, which allows us to divert from the original plan. “I’m going to” can quickly transform into: “I was going to but..”.
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, while the road to heaven is based on strong faith a.k.a. definiteness of purpose.
If you want to end up in heaven by the end of the year (figuratively speaking of course), you must set a definite goal to put all of your “faith” into.
For me, it began with one set of numbers on my whiteboard: 215 by 12/25/2020. I skipped the words and went straight to numbers, numbers don’t lie.
At the time I was 275, out of shape, out of a job, and saddled with depression from a bad drinking habit, unlike the numbers, I was lying quite a bit, most impactful were the lies I told myself.
These lies were the gasoline that allowed me to procrastinate like a fine-tuned Ferrari of fibs; parking whenever possible to avoid that road less traveled.
To outmaneuver my inner fat kid, I had to set a smaller more attainable goal: 240 by 9/11/2020.
This would be fuel for the fire. Hitting that checkpoint would excite me, and energize me right when I needed it.
The point is the first step in making a New Year’s Resolution that actually works, is setting a SMART goal.
What is a SMART Goal?
To make sure your 2021 is better than your 2020 make sure you set goals that are:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
S-Specific, Simple, Sensible, Significant
Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise, you won’t be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five “W” questions:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important?
- Who is involved?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources or limits are involved?
I wanted to be healthier, the goal was important because of who was involved, my girlfriend and mother (the two people I love most) were concerned about my health. The location was in Rochester, we were quarantined which certainly made for some limits. No gyms and a lot of sedentary time but luckily I was still able to eat healthy, especially once I started subscribing to Project LeanNation.
M- Measurable, Meaningful, Motivating
It’s important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
- How much?
- How many?
- How will I know when it is accomplished?
This part was pretty simple, 215 pounds by December 25th.
Achievable- (agreed, attainable)
Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
- How can I accomplish this goal?
- How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?
To make sure this goal was achievable I had to create a whole new routine. I’d wake up every morning and get a nice long walk in, and I wouldn’t eat until noon. Once I got to PLN, they really helped me zero in on my goal by providing my daily caloric goals necessary to drop the amount of weight in the amount of time I desired.
Relevant- (reasonable, realistic and resourced, result-based)
This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it’s important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you’re still responsible for achieving your own goal.
A relevant goal can answer “yes” to these questions:
- Does this seem worthwhile?
- Is this the right time?
- Does this match our other efforts/needs?
- Am I the right person to reach this goal?
- Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
Yes, Yes, Yes, Of Course, and Sure.
Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
- What can I do six months from now?
- What can I do six weeks from now?
- What can I do today?
My end date was December 25th, but I also set a shorter goal for September 11th. I became obsessed with my Google Fit app, which tracked my steps and showed me the progress I was making in a fancy chart.
My Challenge to You
I’m no hero, I’m no wizard, I have no super powers. I just had a goal and the drive to reach it. I hope that this blog inspires you to reach your SMART goal this year, and if you do, we’d love to have you write about your experience on our blog next year!
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