How to set SMART goals in 2017

Over the next few days, a lot of us will be reflecting on the year that was and assuring ourselves of self-improvement for 2017 – and often that comes with the notion of improving, focusing or raising awareness of our physical, and don’t forget mental wellbeing. Safe to say you aren’t the only one who has given up on the gym by the end of January. What makes some goals harder to stick to than others? Here’s my tips on how to set SMART goals for your new year.

Specific

A lot of resolutions sound a lot like:”getting into shape”, “lose weight” and “get healthy”. However, none of these are really specific! A square is a shape, is that what you mean by “getting into shape”? Perhaps it would be better to set a goal like “I will walk for 30 min each day” or “I will eat an extra serve of fruit and veg each day”. Making vague goals means you bend the rules when you don’t quite take steps to reach them on a particular day or week. Making it specific is a better guide and allows you to get that great sense of achievement and satisfaction when you do approach and reach your goal!

 

 

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Image: ShareCare

 

 

Measurable

This one is really important, if you can’t measure if you’re approaching or reached your goal, what’s going to keep you going? Even something as simple as measuring and jotting down your waist, hip, arm and leg circumferences if you’re planning on setting a weight loss goal (FYI, I recommend these from last year). Or if you’re looking at upping the fruit and veg, just do a quick mental tally at the end of the day to see how you did – again jot it down if you want to track how you’re going. Mental wellbeing tends to be more difficult to measure.Try structuring it around time spent meditating or performing mindfulness activities or perhaps writing down a  to-do list before bed each night to clear the mind and help you unwind.

 

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Image: Serious Eats

 

Achievable

Is there any point in setting an unrealistic goal that you just know you’re going to fail at and then not even try anyway? Or half-heartedly try and give up when the results aren’t as rapid as you anticipated? Sounds like every single new year’s resolution EVER! Try and set the lifestyle goal around what you can control – such as diet and exercise, alcohol, smoking etc. Then make teeny tiny baby goals from this big goal, it’s okay if you reach it quickly – you’ll feel accomplished and motivated to set another goal! WIN! This is how efficient goal setting works. A little goal of losing 1 kg over a month sounds a lot less scary than losing 15 kg in a year, doesn’t it?

Relevant

It doesn’t make sense to set a goal about something that you don’t truly want. Simple as that.

Timely

Yes, you DO need to put a time frame on each goal. This is another downfall of a lot of new year goals – their not just non-specific but they don’t say when you anticipate achieving this goal. I strongly recommend setting smaller goals that don’t require you to wait until December 31st 2017 to determine whether you’ve been successful at it or not. We humans are impatient creatures, we want to know we’re doing well at something pretty much right away! Just set goals with smaller time frames – think day to day, weekly and monthly, the time will fly by and those daily habits will really add up.

 

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Image: The Sarah Johnson

 

Some more tips

Always set a POSITIVE goal

Ditch framing your goals around the words “don’t” or “stop” like “stop eating so much junk food”, this makes it sound like you’re missing out on something. Instead, you could say your goal is to “eat one more serve fruit and veg every day instead of junk food”, that’s a great positive goal!

Write your goals down!

I personally find committing goals to paper makes them MUCH more solid, rather than floating around in my mind where it can get lost and slipping through the cracks. Once you’ve written down the goal, set some strategies on how you’ll reach it. So if your goal is to lose 1 kg in 1 month – how are you going about that? Are you going for a walk 5 days a week to be more active? Are you swapping a full-fat latte for a skinny version? What steps do you have to take to get to the endpoint of your goal in the REASONABLE time frame that you have set.

Happy New Year, now go set some SMART goals and achieve them in 2017!

 

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