Being SMART About Achieving Personal Goals in the New Year
by Krishna Dholakia, MS, RD, CDN
Author Karen Lamb once said, “A year from now, you will have wished you started today.”
It’s a powerful insight to consider, especially as we begin 2017. Each New Year brings the chance for fresh starts, goal setting opportunities, and a greater belief that we can achieve our personal aspirations. The internal belief that we can succeed in a specific situation or accomplish a certain task is called self-efficacy. The stronger our sense of self-efficacy, the more effective we will be in achieving our goals.
Don't just set goals, set SMART ones
Ready to try a new way to achieve your goals? Great! But first, you may want to take a deeper look at a few important factors. Along with self-efficacy, timing and determination are vital to achieving goals. Making your goal relevant to you personally is important as well. Failing to fully understand a goal, and your motivation for achieving it, can hinder your progress.
A great strategy for taking all these factors into account is to set SMART goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. The SMART goal method will better enable you to break down a goal into smaller ones, which helps make it more achievable.
Let's get started:
- Specific — You are more likely to achieve your goal if you keep it specific. The more general or vague it is, the more likely it is to be overwhelming. In order to make your goal specific, you need to address the following questions:
- What goal do you want to accomplish? What tools will you need to succeed?
- What is your time frame for achieving your goal? What milestones will you set for yourself?
- How can you motivate yourself to stay strong with your goal for the long run?
- Who will support you with your goal and who might not? Who should you look to for encouragement and who might be best to avoid?
- Measurable — Evaluating your progress as you work toward your goal can be very motivating. Tracking your efforts and results can also offer guidance as to where you need to improve. Measuring progress helps you stay on track, reach your target dates, and experience the fulfillment of achieving milestones. Think about your goal. How can you measure your progress?
- Achievable — When you pick a goal, you want to make sure it is achievable. Setting goals that sound good but are unrealistic can be discouraging. Ask yourself, “On a scale of 0–10, how confident am I that I can achieve my goal?” You don’t have to give up a challenging goal; just pick an aspect of it that is more realistic for you to achieve.
- Relevant — It’s important that your goal be meaningful and personally relevant. When you feel connected to your goal, your motivation and passion will push you to do what’s needed to achieve it.
- Time-bound — The pursuit of a goal should be limited to a set time frame. Deadlines and time frames allow us to create a strategy for achievement — and keep us accountable.
A SMART approach can move you beyond just setting goals toward fully accomplishing them. If you take time to fully understand your goal, create a plan for its achievement, and put in the effort, you will find that you have achieved something truly meaningful.
Krishna Dholakia serves as the Senior Health Education Specialist in the Education & Wellness department at CPG. She is a registered dietitian and a 500-hour certified yoga instructor.