Almost two weeks past since New Years. How are your resolutions going? If you’re like the vast majority of people, your resolutions may have already failed, or they might be on life support. Why?
To make a change – lose weight, stop smoking, exercise more, etc. – you need to have not just that “goal,” but also a way to get there. Successful changes need an outcome goal and a behavior goal.
New Year’s resolutions are examples of “outcome” goals (e.g., “I want to lose 10 pounds”). Without the “behavioral” piece, including the necessary action steps, you’re not likely to be successful. them on their first attempt. It is a bit like planning a drive to Mexico City, but only reviewing a map of the streets in Mexico City. You need to consider what it takes to get there by looking at the maps of all points along the way.
You may have heard of SMART goals. SMART goals have a much higher success rate. Effective goals are: Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Time-lined.
- Specific about the actions and behaviors you will engage in.
- Measurable identifies progress along the way and when success is reached.
- Action-based means you know the behaviors and incremental steps to reach the goals.
- Realistic is essential to success; the goals are realistic for you to achieve.
- Being specific about the details of how and when of the goal is crucial because it gives you a Timeline in which to accomplish the goal. (It is like the difference between putting something on your schedule now versus “getting around to it” when there is time.)
Examples of SMART Goals
- I will increase my water intake from two glasses to four glasses a day by drinking a glass of water mid-morning and mid-afternoon.
- I will do my strength-training routine at the gym on Tuesday at 6:30 am and Saturday at 10 am. I will use 8-pound dumbbells, and do 12 reps with a 15 second rest between each exercise.
- I will lose one pound this week by meeting my exercise and nutrition goals. (Outcome goals – like losing weight – can be included as long as they are clearly tied to enabling SMART exercise and nutrition goals.)
- I will log my thoughts and emotions when I eat 2 days (Tuesday and Thursday) this week. (SMART goals can also be cognitive/thinking and affective/feeling.)
Not so SMART
- I am going to eat fewer desserts. (What is the behavior you’ll will be doing? How many desserts will you eat this week, and when?)
- I am going to lose 5 pounds this week. (What are the behaviors needed to get there? This is an outcome goal without the supporting behavioral goals.)
- I will be less stressed. (Exactly how? Are you going to start meditating, do yoga, breath exercises, or what?)
Remember: Specific, Measurable, Action-based, Realistic, and Time-lined.
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