New Year's Resolutions Using SMART Goals
It’s that time of year again. Before we ring in the new year, we may do a self-assessment, looking for things we want to change. According to Proactive Change, 40-45% of Americans will make a new year’s resolution, which usually include weight loss, exercise or to stop smoking. Without a clear plan, the path toward that goal may be cut short. By the end of the first week, about 75% are still working on their plan. Dan Diamond of Forbes Magazine gives us the sad reality that, by February most gyms are no longer buzzing, that weight loss plan has given way to old habits, and as the months go by those goals are forgotten. In fact, as few as eight percent will achieve their goal by the following new year.
So, what has happened? Are we so lacking in will-power that we just cannot meet those goals? Well, some feel that it is due to factors such as setting lofty goals (“I want to lose 80 pounds this year”), setting goals that are unclear (“I want to pay attention to my health”), or make too many resolutions which can be overwhelming. However, with a clear plan, you can maximize your ability to reach that goal.
Last year, Milly Nunez (my personal trainer and friend) helped me set a big goal for the year. It was always a “bucket list” item of mine to run a half marathon. I had run in 5k’s, been part of a relay in the California International Marathon and had already been running with a women’s running group. Milly suggested that I use the SMART goal template to set a realistic goal that I could achieve, and cross that half marathon off of my bucket list.
George Doran, a consultant by trade, introduced the SMART goals tool. This tool can be used to reach a personal goal or a business goal. The acronym stands for Specific Measurable Achievable, Relevant (or result-oriented) and Time-Bound. Here is how I used the tool for the half marathon
S- specific: the goal is specific, simple and written clearly
M- measurable: the goal should be measurable, with evidence of completion, and may be broken down in to parts
A-achievable: the goal is something you can attain within the timeframe and is reasonable
R- results-focused: the goal measures an outcome, not an activity
T- time-bound: there is tension or motivation to move toward the goal
S- to run a half marathon
M- train for a half marathon to be done October 1 by increasing mileage each week by a 1/2 mile
A- train for a half marathon using short and long runs plus cross training
R- run my first half marathon (13.1 miles at a minimum) for preparation of the Urban Cow Half Marathon
T- to complete a half marathon on October 1st
Using my SMART goals, each week I had a specific distance to complete, with the ultimate goal of being able to run (at a minimum) 13.1 miles, which is the distance of a half marathon. This was done over 10 months of time, which was reasonable or achievable. I used an “app” on my iPhone to track distance and my work-outs, which also helped keep me accountable as I moved toward my goal. There were a few days that I would find myself wanting to “skip” a workout, but I would quickly think about the goal, and didn’t want anything standing in the way of reaching that goal!
By the time that the day arrived to run, I felt ready yet nervous. I was even a bit anxious to get going as they lined us up at the start line. My trainer met me to give me last minute advice and support, my friends had sent words of encouragement, and my husband was also there. Soon it was time to test if I was ready for such a feat. My husband documented the race for me by meeting me along the way and taking photos, and encouraging me saying, “you can do it!”. Crossing the finish line was exhilarating! I had achieved something that I never thought I could do. Through proper goal setting, preparation, and mindset I achieved my goal. I went home to cross this item from my bucket list with a big smile on my face.
If you have a goal in mind, whether it is personal, financial or a business goal, consider using a SMART goal to keep you on track. Find ways to be accountable, and let others support you in reaching that goal. Stop wishing, start doing!