It seemed like such a good idea at the time: the cheese ball; the second helping of mashed potatoes and gravy; the flourless chocolate torte. In the back of your mind, you thought, “I’ll just diet when the holidays are over.” And now, here you are.
While almost half of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, only about 8 percent actually achieve their goals. How can you make sure you’re one of them? By making your resolutions SMART, an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic, and Time-Bound.
Let’s say, for example, that your family doctor has recommended that you drop a few pounds, so your health resolution is to lose weight. Now, how can you make this resolution more foolproof?
Make It Specific
As a goal, the idea of “losing weight” is vague. Instead, make your resolution specific, for instance, by resolving to lose 15 pounds. Setting a specific weight loss amount will give you a tangible target to aim for, rather than just a vague direction.
It Should Be Measurable
You can step on a scale each week and actually measure your progress. In the same way, if your health resolution is to lower your blood pressure, you can have weekly blood pressure readings taken. As you see yourself nearing your target, each measurement will reward you and reinforce the idea that you’re able to reach your goal.
Make It Action Oriented
Action steps give you a plan for achieving your goal. With a weight loss health resolution, for example, your action steps may include reducing your calorie intake by eliminating sugary sodas. Other action plans may be to park farther from work so you can add 30 minutes of walking each day. When you build actions like this into your resolutions, you have a clear roadmap to follow to your ultimate goal.
Setting the bar too high can be risky. If you’ve never run a race, don’t aim to complete a 26-mile marathon within two months. That’s more likely to make you feel frustrated and discouraged. Instead, set more realistic and achievable goals that make you feel good and encourage you to stay on track.
Make It Time-Bound
Set a realistic time frame for achieving your resolution. For example, you might want to lose 15 pounds in 3 months. Then, set a regular schedule to check your progress toward that goal. You can reschedule and adjust the date if you need to, but it’s best to keep your resolution within real time limits.
What else can you do to make your health resolution doable? Download our free SMART goals worksheet. You can also explore our blog, podcasts, or schedule an appointment with Family Medicine. If you use your SMARTs, you can achieve your resolution in no time.