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Be SMART About New Year’s Resolutions

There is something about a new year that compels us to set resolutions to make big improvements in our lives! But, many New Year’s resolutions are broken before January is even over, and we feel worse than had we not set a resolution. The “just do it” approach may serve to sell Nike, but it doesn’t set the scene for sustainable personal change.

In our work life, however, we make plans, set goals and manage to get things done. This year I plan to apply some of the principles of business planning to personal changes. Business planning involves big goals that are broken down into smaller achievable steps often using the SMART system, with goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely.

A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. A more specific goal than just “get in shape” might be “exercise regularly.” A good goal is also measurable. When you measure your progress, you stay on track. It’s about “how much” — “exercise three times a week.”

It must be achievable with reasonable steps and a time frame. If you set a goal that fits into your schedule – “exercise at lunch three days a week” – it’s more likely to be successful. It must also be realistic: something that you are both willing and able to manage. Interestingly, sometimes a difficult goal is easier to reach than an easy one because there is greater motivation. Building strength — moving from 3 lb weights to 5 lb weights — is hard but possible, and doing it with work friends, with mutual support and encouragement, makes it even more attainable.

Finally, it must be timely to give it some urgency. I want to lose 10 inches by June 1st – 2 inches each month.

And, I’ll try similar approaches to monitoring. If I am on track, I’ll reward myself. A mani/pedi will do it for me! If I find I’m not on track, rather than just “trying harder,” I will try to shift strategies a bit.