As we call in the new year, many are struggling to make these New Year’s resolutions. They can range from weight loss, save money, make a big purchase and include goals from career to education. Regardless of the decision, we have high hopes of reaching them, but as the days and weeks tick by, we often come further from our goals than we had hoped.
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By creating our goals using the SMART method, we increase the chance of successful follow-up and achievement. SMART stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timed.
Start by building a specific goal first. If you want to eat healthier, your goal may include a certain number of servings of vegetables each day, the amount of water or whole grains at least twice a day.
Then you want to be sure that you can measure it: How will you track that you reach or work towards your goal? This can be by using a dry erase board on your refrigerator for tracking or a journal. You may have a really big goal that needs to be broken down into smaller goals to make them more achievable.
Make sure the SMART goal you set is something you can do, not just something you want to do. For example, if you are not eating vegetables daily now and your goal is to eat five servings each day, you can start with 2-3 servings a day. Once you have achieved that, you can create a new goal to increase to the next step or final goal you are striving to achieve.
Next, you want to make sure your goals are relevant. Will the goal you create fit with what you need to focus on right now? If you already eat a reasonable number of fruits and vegetables but do not drink a lot of water, increasing your water intake may be a better goal to start with.
Finally, it is important to set a time frame within which you will aim to achieve your goal. Some goals can be short-term and accomplished within 3 months, others are intermediate, which can be achieved within 6 months to a year, and finally long-term, which can take a year or more.
Be realistic and choose the time frame that works for you, and remember that small goals lead to big rewards. By being specific, checking in with how you measure your goals, and staying on track with your time frame, you will give yourself a sense of accomplishment with each goal you set and work toward.
While working on your goals, they may need to be changed, and that’s ok, the SMART goal method helps you stay on track with the New Year’s resolutions and others you make throughout the year.
A gender equality institution. UF / IFAS Extension, University of Florida, Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences, Andra Johnson, Dean and Director. Single copies of UF / IFAS Extension publications (excluding 4-H and youth publications) are available free of charge to Florida residents from county UF / IFAS Extension offices.