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New Year, Old Resolution

Yes, a New Year! 2019 is going to be exciting, right? January is that time that so many of us set out our resolutions. And so often, we fail.

Goodness, why?

That's a good question. How often have you set the SAME goal for yourself? "This year I'll lose 25 pounds" or "This year I'll be more active" and the ever-popular "THIS is the year I'll achieve my goal, and I MEAN it this time!"

And still, success is elusive.

For the majority, a New Years resolution is an empty promise to yourself. Sure losing 25 pounds sounds like a great goal, but with no real plan in place to get there, or what a plan might even look like, this goal becomes unattainable. Besides, losing 25 pounds is a result, not really a goal.

Real goals involve action. They involve details and 'how-to's. Good goals are SMART goals. (Yep, my manager side is showing). Goals should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time sensitive.

What the heck does all that mean?

Let's look at our 'Lose 25 pounds' example:

Is this a Specific goal? At first glance, it may seem so, but if we actually put some thought into it, do you want to lose 25 pounds of muscle? Not likely. Do you want to lose 25 pounds of fat? Probably, but what if you gain 5 pounds of muscle while doing it? Does that count as 'goal achieved'? Or not? As for Measurable, this goal certainly is, we all have a bathroom scale, right? Whether this goal is Attainable and Realistic are somewhat dependent on your current physical make-up, however let's assume that they are for the sake of argument. What about Time sensitive? This is probably the biggest hang up for most people - there is no deadline on this goal. Without a target date, any progress is mostly meaningless, since you can't tell if you are on track to meet your goal or not.

A SMART goal for someone who might choose 'Lose 25 pounds' as a resolution might look like: "I'll run 5k, three times per week for 4 months". Now, I'm not suggesting that running 5k, three times per week for 4 months is the magic bullet for losing 25 pounds, but it's a plan that involves some physical exercise, and that's a good start.

So lets look at "Run 5k, three times a week for 4 months":

Is this Specific? Darn tootin' - there's not really any room for interpretation. Is it Measurable? Sure is! Did you get to 5k? Yes or no? Did you do it 3 times this week? Yes or no? Not only can you measure if you did it, you can measure how OFTEN you did it, or how close you stuck to your goal by comparing how many times you actually ran, versus how often you planned to run. Or by checking how close to 5k you got. Is this goal Attainable? Well, you'll actually have to spend some time sorting out how this fits into your schedule as a time commitment, so again this will depend on your own situation. Realistic? Not only will this depend on if you can commit the time, but are you in good enough shape to get to 5k? The answer to Attainable and Realistic again depend heavily on your own personal situation. Lastly, this goal is definitely Time sensitive. Not only do you have a number of times per week, but you have a check-in point at 4 months! So if you find that it's not helping you lose the 25 pounds you were hoping for, you can change your plan (this is the beauty of setting your own personal goals).

And so what if you set a goal in the middle of the year? Who says you HAVE to have a New Years resolution? Sure, if the beginning of the year is enough to kick you into gear to make a change in your life, then why not? But don't let the calendar hold you back from setting your own goals whenever the need or will arises.

So while your New Years resolution may not have anything to do with losing weight, or getting in shape, you can certainly ask yourself if the resolution you've decided on is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-sensitive. If it isn't, it might be time to make an adjustment, or else you may be setting yourself the same resolution next year.

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