New Years is a time of renewal and hope and setting promises that we know we are going to break – sometimes before the month is even over. When we know “why” this happens, we can do something about it. Keep reading.
Why New Years Resolutions Are Doomed To Fail
- Too vague. “I’m going to eat better.”
- Can’t track progress. “I’m going to be a better person.”
- Reliance on external forces. “I’m going to have more money in my savings account.”
- Too unrealistic. “I’m going to lose 50 pounds this month.”
- No urgency. “I’m going to start going to the gym at some point.”
You need something better. You need to be SMART!
SMART is an acronym that is used as a goal setting model. As of the writing of this article, if you were to search “smart goals template” in Google, you would get over 180 million results. 180 MILLION!!!
Now many of the pages will agree on some letters in SMART but you will find discrepancies with others. The important thing is not that there is only one definition of SMART or 180 million. The important thing is that by having a model, you can construct your goals in a way that makes them significantly more powerful than a resolution.
The template that we like to use is Specific, Measurable, Action-Oriented, Realistic and Time-Bound. Let’s look at each.
The problem with being vague is that it gives you leeway and the opportunity to modify, alter, “fudge” your behavior because the desired result is not clearly defined. “I said I was going to eat better. Well I started by having a salad a day but having one salad a month is still better.” Instead, if we had set the goal to be a very specific “salad every day”, we don’t give ourselves room to negotiate for anything less. But we can still do better by making sure that our goal is also ….
Let’s continue on with the example of a “salad every day”. On day 1 for lunch, we have a large bowl and we feel good about it. On day 7, we make it a small bowl because that cheeseburger looks really good but we can’t skip the salad! On day 14, the lettuce and tomato on the cheeseburger counts as salad! So instead of “salad every day”, let’s change gears a little bit and say that you are going to consume a maximum of 2000 calories per day. Then we can track it and if we can track it, we can ensure it. But we can still do better by making sure that our goal is also ….
“I want to lose 50 pounds.” “I want to get an A in math.” “I’m going to have $1,000 in my emergency fund.” Those are all nice goals but what they lack is directed action and accountability! If “I want to lose 50 pounds” but try to do it by continuing to live the way I always have or hope that some fitness commercial is going to deliver a miracle, I’m not going to have any success. Instead of “I want to lose 50 pounds”, let’s say “I am going to exercise daily and consume a maximum of 2000 per day so that I can lose 50 pounds.” Merely by taking ownership of the result through directed action, we have increase our accountability and involvement. But we can still do better by making sure that our goal is also ….
You know that feeling of abject discouragement when you put your total heart and soul into something and it bombs. It can make you feel like giving up entirely! Not only that but you can become a naysayer to anyone else that tries to do the same thing or tries to encourage you to make another attempt. “No way! It never works.” springs to mind immediately. Instead of shooting for the moon, first try to just get off the ground. Instead of trying to lose 50 pounds, try 5 pounds. Because when you experience a little success, it can create momentum and lead to a feeling that results in a bigger goal next time.
As a matter of fact, there is nothing to say that you can’t increase your goal when you reach it quickly. “Well, I wanted to lose 5 pounds and I’ve already done that. I’m going for 10 pounds.”
Now some people hear this advice and immediately discount it as setting goals too low and a cop out. I assure you that I am NOT advocating setting easy goals just for the sake of the exercise. I’m saying set goals that are realistic AND challenging so that you can get the joy of achievement that can propel you farther. Every football team sets their sights on the championship at the beginning of the season but each week, their goal is just to win the next game. Win enough games and you will find yourself at the championship. Lose 5 pounds consistently and you will find yourself where you really wanted to be to begin with. But we can still do better by making sure that our goal is also ….
Do you know which day is the most popular for starting a new project, a new adventure or to start a new goals? Someday. “Someday, I’m going to get back in the gym.” “Someday, I’m going to ask that girl out.” “Someday, I’m going back to church.” But if you look at the calendar, the one day you will not find is Someday. Instead, your goal should have a deadline and a timer on it to create urgency and a schedule. “I’m going to lose 10 pounds.” When? By your birthday? By the weekend? By the summer? You could literally go through the whole year pushing this out until November and then you just throw in the towel because “nobody loses weight during the holidays. I’ll try again next year.” Instead set a definitive time frame for the accomplishment of the goal and you will develop a new urgency to see it done.
When we make our goals SMART, we make them:
- Specific so we know exactly what we are trying to accomplish
- Measurable so we can track our progress
- Action-Oriented so we take ownership of how the goal is reached
- Realistic so we can stay motivated to achieve
- Time-Bound so we can stay on-track to reach our desired result
For a goal setting worksheet on SMART goals or to find out how martial arts can be a vehicle to sharpen your mind and body to help you reach your goals, please contact us today.