Setting SMART Goals For 2012
Here’s hoping your New Year is starting off well. This past week, being the first week of a new year, several of my patients have reported setting new goals – resolutions – for themselves. Most goals revolve around self improvement – losing weight, exercising more, and eating healthier. Some are choosing to carve out more time to spend with their children, volunteer, or read more. These are all excellent ideas, and I commend anyone who is working toward improving their lives.
Setting new goals at any time of the year can be both challenging and rewarding. In the field of mental and behavioral health, we often talk about setting SMART goals. For those of you who have set goals or are considering setting some goals for the New Year, I offer you the SMART goal outline. This may help you not only determine your goal, but implement and achieve … in other words, really make it happen! SMART stands for:
S= Specific M= Measurable A= Attainable R= Realistic T= Time Sensitive
Studies have shown that when people set goals, the above five conditions really help the goal become a reality. An easy example to change a goal to a SMART goal is: “I want to lose weight”, to “I will lose 10 pounds by June 1, 2012. The goal of losing weight, which is very general, is changed to a SMART goal by adding in the specifics of how much and by when.
What I really appreciate about using a SMART goal is that, not only is it specific and measurable, it is attainable and realistic. By creating a goal that is realistic, the goal becomes tailor made for the individual setting the goal. And when a timeline is added, it helps to keep the focus where it belongs. The SMART goal pushes us to make a deeper commitment to a successful outcome.
Within every goal there are objectives. Objectives are the small but significant steps we take day-to-day to make the goal happen. If the goal is to lose weight by June 1, then what needs to happen to start moving toward that goal? What kind of foods to purchase; portion control; planning ahead; exercise and sleep – these are all things that would likely need to be considered.
With all this in mind, it’s also very helpful to write the SMART goal down, including the objectives. There is something about writing things down that makes it very real, and can help increase the commitment.
One final thought about setting SMART goals: Please allow for some flexibility. In other words, be patient with yourself. There are any number of glitches that can pop up out of nowhere to throw even the most committed goal setter off track. Allowing for flexibility instead of insisting on perfection can be the key to getting back on track and moving closer to your goal even if (when) glitches occur.