Be SMART about Fulfilling the New Year’s Resolutions.

I know that we’re are in the new year, and with that, we often set out a serious of goals or “resolutions” to enact.  These “resolutions” are often characterized by some sort of behavioral modification, whether it be the suspension of a negative behavior, or the starting of a positive one.  I. for one, think New Year’s resolutions are a step in the right direction.  While a majority of these proposed behavioral changes will not be fulfilled, I think the self-awareness and call to action is inherently positive.  In order to change a behavior, we must identify it.  We also have the self-efficacy and control (most times) to alter our behavior moving forward.  If we commit to spending more time in the gym, or eating less sweets, etc., there’s a very good chance we are capable of achieving it!

My recommendation for anyone thinking of undertaking a New Year’s resolution would be to use the SMART model of goal-setting.  The acronym stands for “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time Specific.” (mindtools.com).  This is an excellent tool in order to set goals/resolutions that you may feel motivated to complete.  There’s a school of thought that suggests setting very lofty goals, and while they motivate certain people, many might feel overwhelmed by the sheer magnitude of the process.  SMART goals are much more conducive to success, as they are attainable, and are to be completed in a specific period of time. This time-orientation can be very helpful, as it keeps us on track and helps us establish a routine. If I can make a New Year’s Resolution akin to “I will go rock-climbing more often in the New Year”, but that isn’t nearly as effective as the resolution “I will go rock-climbing at least once per week in the New Year”.  The fact that I am incorporating the “once per week” stipulation into the goal is important.  With the former resolution, I could go 2-3 weeks without rock-climbing, which would still be within the parameters of the goal.  If I skip a week with the latter resolution, I wouldn’t be fulfilling it.

The rest of the elements (Specific, measurable, relevant) involve outlining all parts of a resolution (leaving nothing ambiguous), having a resolution that can be measured (ex. I will only eat fast food once per week, or I will go to the gym once per week, etc.), and having it be relevant to something you are trying to achieve (ex. More gym visits is conducive to a healthier lifestyle.)

The culmination of these factors can directly influence the achievement of a goal, and this is important for New Year’s Resolutions, as we should want to achieve them.  The first step to any meaningful behavioral change is identification.  We should be fostering success, and by creating goals that are achievable, and time specific (as well as all of the other equally important SMART factors), we have a greater likelihood of fulfilling them.