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Resolution or Goal?

New Year, New You!

I am writing this after the new year has started and after many of you have started on your resolutions on purpose. Just as many start off the with a resolution, many people quickly stop. The reasons behind the quick end are varied. One of the main culprits is not having a goal that is concrete enough to know you are achieving it and yet not making it flexible enough to fit real life. When it comes to making goals keep them concrete and make small steps at a time. The acronym S.M.A.R.T goals (originally used in the business setting coined by George Doran, Arthur Miller, and James Cunningham., 1981) is thrown around a lot to describe how to make goals and it explains a similar idea. Smart goals help keep a resolution from being too vague, too broad, too overwhelming, not important, or many of the other reasons that resolutions stop almost before they start.

Specific so that you know exactly what you are working towards. I like adding in the alternative meaning of Significant. The goal should be meaningful to you. If you do not care about it then you will not stick with it.

Measurable so you know if you have achieved it. Again another alternative word is Meaningful. The goal has to be important to you. Having the goal be measurable is helpful because if you know what you are measuring then you will know what to look for to see results.

Attainable or Achievable so you can take know you can make it through to the end. If you make the goal too big then you are setting yourself up to stop when you are not seeing progress.

Realistic - is this a goal you can achieve and in a time frame that makes sense with everything else going on in your life. Relevant is also a way to look at it. Does this goal make sense at this point in your life? Is this goal helpful to your bigger picture in life?

Timely - when do you want to achieve the goal by or how often do you want to make the behavior change. Or is this goal Tangible in a way that you can concretely see the results?

The other key piece is being kind and flexible in following the goal. If you get sick or have a big deadline that is a priority at work, you may miss your goal for a day or week. That is okay. You get the opportunity to start over and pick it back up next week.

Some Examples of Goals that follow the specific and concrete format.

"I want to start going to the gym this year" versus "I will go to the gym 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes." I know what I am doing, if I accomplished it, I will be able to achieve it, it is realistic as it is not asking for perfection and allows for flexibility in days, and I know how often.

"I will reach out (call/text/DM) to one friend each week."

"Clean the house every Sunday."

"Get out of bed every day by 7:00 am."

"Use a meditation app once a day."