Some statistics estimate that between 45% – 62% of Americans make New Years Resolution. And just 8% of those resolution makers report success. A new year or new beginning often leads people to want a “fresh start” and bold proclamations of change are uttered. Common resolution themes include nutrition, education, activity, volunteer service…but the success rates just aren’t there.
One possible reason for difficulties to stick to a resolution is that the behavioral change is just too big. Human beings are habit and routine bound, typically. To resolve, as Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg has, to run each day of 2016 if you have run zero days in 2015 is probably not going to be an attainable goal…its too big of a change! But, a resolution that is more incremental and has a stair step approach to a bigger change would probably be more successful.
In starting a new goal or behavior, it helps to use the acronym SMART. This stands for goals being Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timebound. If we use Mr. Zuckerberg’s goal, but modify it for the couch potato, a SMART goal might look like:
“I will work up to running a 5k by March 2016. To do this, I will start by walking/running 3 times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, increasing my time and distance running each new week. I will track and measure my progress using GPS distance trackers and landmarks.”
This is a specific goal, it is measurable, it is attainable and realistic, and it has a much more realistic time frame of 3 months, versus a whole 12 month time frame.
SMART goals can be applied to most other goals…financial, educational nutrition and fitness. A critical aspect to goal setting is using a personal inventory of what works best for you, and not comparing your goals for others. Your pace may be different, your threshold for routine changes may be different, but allowing this goal to be Specific to you can help make it a more sustainable and attainable goal.