About 45% of Americans make News Year’s resolutions each year and only 8% of those people are successful in their new year’s resolutions. Those people who fail at keeping New Year's resolutions fail because their resolutions are 'too broad'. Some of the top ten new year’s resolutions include losing weight, exercising more, quit smoking, enjoy life more, spend more time with family and friends, get out of debt, learn something new, get organized, and start helping others. As a dietitian I ask that my client’s goals be S.M.A.R.T.! Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely in order to ACCOMPLISH their goals.
1. Specific: Ask yourself the following questions: Who is involved? What exactly do you want to accomplish? When? Where will the action take place? Why do you want to accomplish this goal? What are the conditions needed in order to accomplish the goal?
For example, "I want to eat healthier" is a general goal. "I will become more diligent about the foods I eat, by reading food labels, ingredients, and becoming aware of the foods I buy when I go to the grocery store or go out to eat" is more specific.
2. Measurable: Goals should be measurable. You should be able to answer: How much? How many? How will I know when my goal is accomplished? This will help you track your progress. For example: I will work out for 45 minutes at least 3 times a week. You can measure your goal by marking your calendar!
3. Attainable: Each goal should be within reach. If you set the bar too high, you will set yourself up for failure. I also ask each one of my client that they make short term goals in order to reach the long term goal. For example, "I want to lose 30 lbs. in 6 months". Example of a short term/attainable goals: "I will cook a well-balanced meal 3 days out of the week", "I will walk 45 minutes on the treadmill or outside 3 times a week", or “I will switch out one of my cans of soda a day with 2-10 oz. glasses of water."
4. Realistic: How much time do you have to devote to your goal? Do you have everything you need in order to reach your goal? Also, give your goals some flexibility. Understand that obstacles and other roadblocks happen, especially during the 'times' you can work out; know how to work around these roadblocks. If you give yourself some flexibility to accomplish your goals, you are likely to succeed and not set yourself up for disappointment.
5. Timely: Each goal should have a start and a finish. You have to start somewhere and if you want to lose 30 lbs., then give yourself enough time to accomplish it!
One last thing, enjoy the journey!! If you are miserable, adjust your goals to make them more enjoyable, but always remember, pain is temporary, pride is forever! The road is not always full of rainbows and sunshine, so learn how to enjoy the rain!