Many of us have made New Year’s resolutions only to break them, or completely forget about them, by February. Yes, a small percentage of people enter a new year, make a resolution, and change their lives for the better. So, what is the difference between those who succeed at their resolutions and those who fail?
At Heathermckinney.com, we believe following a basic formula can lead to success in keeping resolutions: take SMART goals and add sharing, journaling progress, motivation, and accountability.
SMART is an acronym that has made its way through many leadership classes, life coaches, and wellness programs throughout the past 25 years. The reason SMART maintains its status with coaches and trainers is that it works!
Let’s examine further.
Specific. When setting a goal, try to make it as specific as possible. This will help you target exactly what you want to achieve and how to accomplish it. For example, instead of deciding, “I am going to start exercising,” specify that “I am going to start exercising four evenings each week by attending a dance class.”
Measureable. Most of us like to see progress, which is an important element of motivation and accountability. Making a goal measurable means you are able to track that progress. In the example above, “exercising four evenings a week,” begins to make this goal measurable. However, our coaches recommend taking it a step further and adding elements regarding results. In this example, it may include tracking target heart rate or inches lost. For example, “I am going to start exercising four evenings each week by attending a dance class,” will then also include, “I will measure my waist circumference each month in order to reach 35 inches or less.”
Attainable. We want to see the fruits of our labor. Sometimes, we get overenthusiastic and set goals that are not attainable in the near future. At Heathermckinney.com, we have seen how this mistake can cause people to become frustrated and lose their motivation. For this reason, we emphasize the importance of attainability.
Let’s look once more at the example above. If this member has a waist circumference of 40 inches, it would likely not be an attainable goal to reach 35 inches in two months. Thus, the member could set a reduction of one inch per month to make the goal attainable. The goal example then becomes, “I am going to start exercising four evenings each week by attending a dance class. I will measure my waist circumference each month in order to reach 35 inches or less. I will work toward a change of one inch per month and reevaluate my goal every month.”
Relevant or Realistic. These words have similar elements. Relevant directs us to set goals that make sense in our daily lives. Realistic directs us to set goals that we can accomplish on a regular basis. When we set unrealistic goals, much like unattainable goals, we can quickly become disappointed. In the example above, if the member lives an hour away from the closest dance class, this goal may not be realistic. Our coaches would advise her to pick another exercise class or program that is more realistic.
Time Sensitive. If you have addressed the three elements above, you may be thinking the goal is already time sensitive. However, the purpose of time sensitivity is to give the goal a starting time and an ending time.
The ending time is a point at which to reevaluate and reset. With goals and New Year’s resolutions alike, we need to remember that very few of them ever completely end. If you begin to exercise to improve your health, you will need to continue exercising to achieve lifelong gains. Your exercise regimen may change, however, as you can increase your intensity or try different types of workouts. By adding time-sensitive elements into the initial goal, you may prevent boredom from setting in and lay a solid foundation for developing future healthy habits. Let’s take a final look at our example with time-sensitive elements included:
“I am going to start exercising on December 30th, four evenings each week by attending a dance class. I will measure my waist circumference each month in order to reach a goal of 35 inches or less. I will work toward a change of one inch per month and reevaluate my goal every month. I will work toward losing five inches by April 30th. At that time, I will review new types of exercise or classes that I may want to incorporate into my wellness program.”
The SMART goal-setting process can be both fun and rewarding. Yet, even if goals are SMART, they can still gather dust by February. We believe that the additional elements of sharing, journaling progress, motivation, and accountability may increase the chances of success.
These elements take SMART goals to the next level. To share your goals, first write them down or post them somewhere that you will see them regularly. Then, share them verbally with a wellness partner or coach. This process encourages both self-accountability and partner accountability. It means there is a check- in point.
Journaling progress weekly gives you a reason to check in with yourself each and every week. It’s easy for any of us to let a week slip by when we just couldn’t get to the gym. Maybe we even had a legitimate reason, such as the flu or a twisted ankle. Journaling helps us understand how we feel about not being able to accomplish our goal that week; more importantly, it reminds us to get back on track as soon as possible.
Motivation and accountability, within our Heathermckinney.com program, stems back to your wellness partner and your coach. Selecting a wellness partner who will stick with you for the long haul and who will motivate you on a regular basis can mean the difference between success and failure. So choose wisely. Finding the courage to ask someone to be your wellness partner can be difficult. Remember, we have found people to be both flattered and personally motivated by being asked to be a wellness partner.
Whether you call them New Year’s resolutions or SMART goals, the truth is goals help us to keep growing and learning. They expand the walls of our lives. At Heathermckinney.com, we believe that once you expand the walls of your life, you won’t go back. And most of us want to move forward.
Contact Heather directly to find out which essential oils may be an important part of an exercise or weight loss resolution.