As December quickly comes to a close, we begin to turn our thoughts and attention to the new year and what it may bring. 40% of us will set New Year’s Resolutions to tackle during the coming year.
If you have ever made a New Year’s Resolution, you know how hard they can be to stick to. Ashira Prossack, a writer for Forbes Women, wrote,
“Studies have shown that less than 25% of people actually stay committed to their resolutions after just 30 days, and only 8% accomplish them.”
If so many of us set New Year’s Resolutions, why do so many of us fail to accomplish them? The answer is that most of us set vague ideas of what we want to change instead of specific, actionable goals.
How to Create Goals that Last
SMART is an acronym many people use to help them set up their goals. SMART stands for:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time-bound (time-based, time-limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Let’s break them down even further.
A specific goal is one that you can imagine perfectly in your mind. You can start getting specific on your goal by asking yourself the five W’s:
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Why is this goal important to me?
- Who is involved in order to accomplish it?
- Where is it located?
- Which resources are limited?
Once you’ve narrowed it down with those five W questions, you can then ask yourself:
- What does my goal look like?
- What does accomplishing my goal taste like?
- What does it smell like?
- How does it feel to have accomplished my goal?
You want to be able to imagine all aspects of the goal and try to include the five senses. Make your goal as real as possible — even down to the tiny details. Allow yourself to mentally live in that desired future as if you have already achieved it.
A goal is measurable when it can be quantified or given some type of number. You may ask yourself:
Having a goal that is measurable is very important because it allows you to track your progress and know if you need to make any adjustments or changes to your goal.
A couple of examples would include if you want to lose weight you would need to know exactly how much weight you would like to lose. If your goal is to make more money next year, what dollar amount more would you like to make? If you would like to better your relationship with a sibling, how many times a year, month, week, etc will you contact them, phone them, visit them?
If you can’t put a number to your goal, it is not measurable. You might have to get creative to identify measurable goals.
An achievable goal is one that may take some stretching to accomplish but is still reasonable, realistic, and attainable. To see if a goal is achievable you may ask yourself:
- What might prevent me from accomplishing this goal?
- Is my goal something I have control over?
- What additional resources do I need to accomplish this goal?
- Do I need any outside help, additional training, etc to accomplish my goal?
A relevant goal is one that has meaning to you. It is to ensure that you have the motivation and desire to really accomplish the goal. Consider these questions to see if your goals are relevant to you.
- Why is this goal important to me?
- Is it in line with my other goals?
- Is this goal worthwhile?
A time-bound goal is having a specific date(s) that you look toward to accomplish your goal. This helps you stay focused and lasered in on your goal. If you can break your goal down into even smaller timelines it will help you stay on track even more.
- What is my end date for this goal?
- What do I want to have accomplished six months from now?
- What do I want to have accomplished three months from now?
- What do I want to have accomplished this month?
- What do I want to have accomplished this week?
- What do I need to do today?
As humans, we take the path of least resistance. Make the follow-through action of your goal as easy as possible.
If you want to start playing the guitar for the new year, keep the guitar out in the open instead of in the closet. If it’s in front of you, you are more likely to play it.
If your goal is to hit the gym three times a week, know exactly which days and times you are going to go to the gym. Are you going to go right after work? If you were to try to go home, change, maybe watch some TV while you eat a snack and then try to get to the gym there is a greater chance of you not going. Try instead to take your gym clothes with you to work so you can head to the gym straight from work.
The less activation energy required for an action, the more likely you will be to follow through.