At this time of year, millions of Americans resolve to make their life better. Whether that includes getting healthier, becoming wealthier, or striving for a work-life balance, these resolutions often don’t go any further than thoughts in our minds.
Set your intentions for the New Year by writing down what you want to give your attention to in 2019. Research shows that by writing down your intentions, you are more likely to work toward them and succeed in reaching them. Make a list of intentions, then, rate and prioritize what is most valuable and important. Then put those intentions into goals. Lacking goals is like taking a trip without making a plan or having a destination; you’ll never know where you are going to end up.
Written goals increase your chances of accomplishing the behavior you desire. They make it easier to plan action steps, monitor progress, and define the end date. Setting a goal such as getting healthier this year is not specific enough. Behavior change occurs if there are written goals which include a deadline.
Improving your life requires planning and that starts with setting SMART goals. SMART goals should have criteria that correspond to each of the following categories: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound.
- Be Specific. Clearly define the doable action steps or outline the Who? What? Where? When? And Why?
- Create Measurable goals. How will you measure your progress?
- Set goals that are Attainable. Is it likely to happen; is it achievable, what steps are involved?
- Be Realistic. What knowledge, skills, resources, and abilities are necessary to reach this goal?
- Have a Time Line. When will it start, when will it finish? Set a specific deadline for the goal.
- I will save $60 a month to build an emergency fund by making my own coffee instead of purchasing it on my way to work 3 days a week for 1 month.
- I will do stretching exercises 2 days a week for the next month to be ready for our family ski trip.
Procrastination is easy. Tomorrow always seems like a good day to make changes. With the small steps approach, anything you do towards your goal is a step in the right direction. No step is too small to get stared.
Often goals seem insurmountable, but put your mind to it. Negative thoughts such as “I can never do this” are common. Instead, think positive thoughts, such as “I can do this one small step at a time.” Keep imagining how good it will feel to reach a goal. Smart goals make good resolutions all year.
Finally, take time to celebrate all of the small steps you achieved along the way. Celebration can be as easy as sharing your success with family and friends, soaking up the feelings of accomplishment or skiing that first black diamond. Taking small steps, being realistic, and staying positive will help you keep your intentions in the New Year.
Happy New Year!