As the new year began, you may have found yourself in familiar territory - negotiating with yourself how this year I am going to make some changes! Big changes. Real changes.
This is the year that I am going to eat healthier, or maybe lose some weight, or go big and make a career change. Sound familiar? These are definitely admirable goals and likely goals that are really important to you. However, despite your good intentions, are you biting off more than you can chew (maybe pun intended!)? Are you setting yourself up for failure? Does it feel like you are rowing upstream in a waterfall?
Behavioral changes take some work and are often leads to beneficial outcomes. This is a process that requires some motivation, some realistic goals, and a blueprint on how to get there. Quite often, we can get stuck in the step of setting realistic goals and doable actions to meet that goal. With this in mind, I would like to introduce you to a helpful tool that I have often used with my clients/patients in similar situations. This tool is called the S.M.A.R.T. goal.
A S.M.A.R.T. goal is…
Specific: What exactly do I want to do?
Measurable: How will I track my progress?
Achievable: Is this realistic for me to accomplish this week? Do I have the resources
Relevant: Why am I doing this? Does it matter to me?
Time-bound: When will I have this completed
For example, I may set the goal that I am going to exercise. The goal “exercise” is not in a S.M.A.R.T. goal format and is likely easier to be overcome with obstacles. Instead, the goal could be modified to: I will walk a total of 2 hours this week, walking 30 minutes each day on Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday, and Sunday mornings at 7 AM. As you work through this approach you should be able to answer each part of the goal. If not, then you need to go back and rework the goal. Pay attention to potential obstacles and how you would overcome them by incorporating them into this framework.
No one said that behavior change is easy, but with some S.M.A.R.T. goals in place you will be taking a step in the right direction!
Good luck and be kind to yourself along the way!