New Year, SMART You
The new year brings with it hope and aspirations. For many, it is an avenue for self-reflection and a propellent of positive change. However, after the clock ticked past midnight and 2023 came about, reality still prevails. No matter what habits you vowed to develop or what challenges you promised to deal with, a new year only results in a new you with persistent initiative and positive intention.
When it comes to redefining yourself – in ways big or small – for the new year, the starting point must be a vision or goal that you have for yourself. Make sure that this goal is not based on the standards your family or society has put in place for you. Your vision for the year should come from what you totally aspire to. Ask yourself: Without the pressure of any other person and without considering expectations others may have of you, what do you truly want to achieve? Common types of goals are to:
- Increase something
- Make something
- Improve something
- Reduce something
- Save something
- Develop someone (like yourself!)
Goals should be high-level and contain a core objective. Furthermore, if you have too many goals, your goals may not be high-level enough. Perhaps, you are more thinking of things from a tasks perspective vs. an end-results perspective. When you set a goal, its scale can be as minimal or as large as you define it to be. You may desire to hit a certain revenue stream by December, have a certain body weight to muscle ratio, or simply become a more content person. Whatever it may be, picturing yourself having accomplished this goal should truly excite you! Need help setting a SMART goal? Use the following acronym to get started Your goal should be:
- Specific: Do make sure your goal is specific and simple enough. Do not set a goal you know is way beyond capacity or too vague. Answer the questions of who, what, when, where, and why when it comes to your goal. This should be like a mission statement.
- Example: “I will go for a 30-minute run daily to train for a marathon.”
- Measurable: Do make sure your goal is motivating. Do not set a goal that you cannot tell whether you have accomplished. Determine the metrics you will measure your progress against. It’s okay to set milestones for a more complex goal.
- Example: “I will follow my fitness app’s training program to run a full marathon without stopping.”
- Achievable: Do make sure your goal is attainable. Do not set a goal that is not realistic. Remember that the goal should motivate you, not discourage you. Developing skills and new attitudes can be difficult, but worth it if you stay consistent.
- Example: “Given that I am healthy and that I am not new to running, I have enough time to train for a marathon, which is still 8 months away.”
- Relevant: Do make sure your goal is worthwhile. Do not set a goal that does not actually matter to you. Your goal should make sense to you and fit within the vision you have for yourself. If it doesn’t align with who you want to be, it is not relevant to you.
- Example: “I want to be a fitness-oriented person who has physical strength and high levels of energy.”
- Time-bound: Do make sure you set checkpoints. Do not set a goal with no milestones along the way. Realistic timing is oh-so-important. Giving yourself time boundaries also creates a sense of urgency, prompting you to get the job done.
- Example: “I have signed for a marathon 8 months from now.”
After you establish a goal, the next step is to break it down. Determine what you need to do each month, each week and each day to get closer to your goal. When feeling demotivated or low in energy, you can even check in with yourself: At this point in time, am I moving towards or further away from my goal? In the beginning, there is solely one key to success: consistency. All goals will only be propelled towards with the right habits. Small changes in your daily lifestyle and activities will be steps towards achieving your goal. On average, it takes two months to form a habit. Do not give up in the beginning or easily walk away. The changes you have to make may not feel great in the start. Be prepared and anticipate the internal pushback to keep going.
In that light, your process in the beginning may seem mechanical. What’s even harder to digest is that the return on investment may not be as apparent in the start either. Results will start to emerge only as you continue the journey. In the first phase, it is effective to put on blinders and simply do the actions that are necessary to form the right habits. That said, along the way, keep checking with the SMART metric to ensure that your goal still makes sense for you. Nothing is set in stone and you are allowed to review your goals if they no longer speak to you. <
Finally, know that along the way, there will be obstacles and challenges to deter you. However, keep an anchor thought, potentially positive thoughts about the accomplishment of your goal or a motivating catalyst. Use this thought to bring you back into the present moment and keep yourself going. On the contrary, if your goal seems near, don’t get overconfident and get off track. Evaluate what’s working and keep the momentum going.
If you set these goals carefully and with the intention to follow through, at the end of the year, you will see a significant learning curve and be proud of the journey you have taken. It may even be a fun exercise to take a before and after snapshot in time, or to write your goal in an envelope to revisit later in the year. The new year is all about a fresh start and looking towards the future with optimism. As you embark on a journey of your own new beginnings, your SMART goals are sure to be the key to success!