I’ve written before about the disappointment of failed new year’s resolutions. I’ve even gone so far as to dissuade you from making any, and to instead focus on daily small changes.
However, if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em and given you likely have already begun to craft a list of changes you want to employ in 2018, let’s discuss some tips to set you up for success!
Start by getting S.M.A.R.T.! Whether the goal personal or professional, it’s imperative to add structure in order to achieve success. First articulated in 1981 by George T. Doran in a paper titled "There's a S.M.A.R.T. Way to Write Management's Goals and Objectives,” this structure has been adopted by many since.
The acronyms vary, but the one I like best was cited in a recent NY Times article (with some notes from me in parenthesis):
Specific: Set concrete, clearly defined goals with specific points of success. (I find that vagueness or language like “I’ll try” yields failure and frustration. Make a plan!)
Measurable: Whatever the goal is, find ways to measure progress. (Make it simple to gauge achievement. It can also be fun!)
Achievable: Aim high, but within reason. Your goal should be a stretch, but something you could actually achieve. (Expecting to go from 0 to 1,000 overnight will set you up for failure.)
Relevant: Find a goal that matters enough to you that you’ll be motivated to stick with it. (It’s also important to note whether you have the resources to succeed.)
Time-bound: Set a reasonable timeline for your goal, and focus on the small wins along the way. (Celebrating the small wins is key!)
It’s all well and good to talk about it, but now let’s put this tool to use! Say, for example, you want to eat more whole foods for the month of January. Below is how you might fill out your S.M.A.R.T. goal:
Specific: I will eat whole foods Monday through Friday until 5:00pm, and only indulge in alcohol and healthful processed foods (like dark chocolate, or crackers or chips with ingredients I can understand) on the weekends
Measurable: I will put a smiley face on the calendar each day I eat only whole foods, and be sure there are at least 5 days of smiley faces each week!
Achievable: Although I would like to say I’m going to follow this guideline 7 days a week, I’ve allowed myself some leeway on the weekends. If I do it 7 days, that will rock, but I’m sure I can strive for 5 days. I will set myself up for success by shopping and cooking on Sundays so I have delicious and healthful foods accessible all week.
Relevant: I’ve been falling off track lately with my nutrition and it shows! I am bloated, lethargic and have bags under my eyes. This will improve my energy and get rid of unwanted pounds. Plus, my friends are doing it too so we can support each other (community support improves success rates).
Time-bound: I will start on January 2-Febuary 2, and then re-evaluate if I want to make any adjustments. Each week I will count the smiley faces, and for every 5 per week achieved I will do something indulgent for myself like get a manicure, read a trashy magazine or brag to a friend.
You get the gist? Now, please take 10 minutes and fill one out for yourself.
Importantly, be realistic, take steps to set yourself up for success, stay positive and be kind to yourself.
The NY Times article cautions not to “confuse your optimism with actual achievement” and “be comfortable with the fact that you will probably have slip-ups, and just move on when it happens. Wake up the next morning and keep trying to improve.”
As Scarlett O’Hara says in Gone with the Wind, “After all, tomorrow is another day.”
Happy holidays everyone!
Marjorie, Chief MOJO Maker™