I don’t know about you, but I am thrilled to see 2016 over and 2017 finally here! The new year brings promise, opportunity, and a clean slate. Traditionally, we see a new year as a time to hit the reset button, set new life goals, and of course, lose a little bit of weight. 

Which reminds me of a joke, “This new year, I’m taking the plunge and hiring a personal trainer! Not so much to help me work out, but more to follow me around and slap junk food out of my hand.”

But seriously, I’ll be 40 years old this year, which means I’ve had plenty of New Year’s resolutions. However, if you’re like me, most of those fall to the wayside not long after January is over. So this year I wanted to find out how to be successful in my new self. And believe it or not, it’s not that hard if you know how to set your goals.

 Before we get to goals, one must first understand the difference between a “vision” and a “goal.” I always made my new years resolutions as such, “this year I will eat healthier.” To me, this was a goal, but after researching a bit more, I found that it’s more of a vision.

The definition of a goal is “the end towards action is given.” The key word here is “action.” Goals require planning, deadlines, and measurable success. Eating healthy is great, but how does one go about it? Setting a goal gives you tangible actions to take on a daily basis, the key difference between having a “vision vs. goal.”

Now that we have our goals in mind let’s share the best practices for winning at your New Year’s Resolution. The Key to any success is having SMART goals. For those of you in the business world, you may be familiar with the term, but did you ever consider how to apply it to your personal goals, say a New Year’s Resolution?
Make SMART Goals and Plan.
There are a ton of books and material out there about SMART goals, but here’s the gist of what you need to know to kick-start your new you.

Specific: Asking if your goal is “determinable” is key to making it specific. For example, instead of setting a goal of, “I will eat healthier this year,” one could make the goal more precisely such as, “I will limit my fast food each week.”

Measurable: The next step in narrowing down your goal is to give it measurable accountability. “I will limit my fast food each week” cannot be measured, but if you change it to something like “ I will limit my fast food to 1 day per week”, you can easily track your progress.

Attainable: One of my biggest mistakes was always to shoot for the stars. “This year I will eat healthier.” In my mind or my vision, was that I was about to become as close to a vegan as possible starting tomorrow, living off of fallen nuts and fresh garden picked vegetables. As silly as it sounds, that’s pretty normal for most of us. Instead, be realistic when setting your goals. Instead of saying you will limit your fast food to 1 day a week, maybe start out with three days instead. If you’re a fast food junkie that is.

Realistic: Having a realistic goal is similar to an attainable one. We all have limits, and most of the time we have to take baby steps to cross those limits. Eating healthy is great, but expecting to change your entire diet on day one of 2017 may not be realistic. Instead, set a goal that can be achieved, for example, by “June of 2017, I will have eliminated all fast food from my diet.”

Timely: The final step in making any goal is to set a deadline. It’s been my experience that multiple deadlines work best to help you digest your progress and keep on track, but regardless of how you come up with a deadline, setting one is mandatory.

 I’ll admit that this technique doesn’t feel as whimsical as the New Year’ promise of a better day, but it does offer tangible and proven methods to accomplish your goal. So if you are tired of telling your friends and family about all the things you’re going to do this year and not measuring up, then maybe it’s time to get SMART.

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