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SMART Goals (image)

Make SMART Goals in 2017

by Cristin Connor, MS, RN, BSN, Summit Healthcare Occupational Health

The New Year has arrived, along with many resolutions and goals. Will you fail, back down and retreat to old habits? Will you succeed and prevail in 2017? The decision is truly up to you, but a little planning and SMART goal setting can make a difference in achieving and succeeding with your New Year’s resolution.

Whether it is weight loss, dietary improvements, career growth, additional schooling, or personal growth, a goal will never work if you have not created a proper goal.  But how does one create a proper goal? Think SMART!  SMART is an acronym we have all heard but rarely use as prescribed. So let’s review the letters and their application to your New Year’s resolution.

The “S” in SMART stands for specific. Your goal must be specific. For example, “I want to lose 25 pounds”, rather than “I want to lose weight.” We all know how much weight we want to lose yet we hesitate to use specifics, as a non-specific allows us to cheat and relieve some of the accountability. When was the last time you succeeded at anything that you were not accountable for? It’s rare! Hold yourself accountable by creating a specific goal.

“M” equals measurable, in the SMART acronym.  In order for a goal to be measurable, you must have a specific goal to measure. You can easily measure 25 pounds of weight loss on a scale.  Another example is completion of a degree or schooling certificate program. “I will complete my Medical Assistance certificate in 2017.  If you have your certification in hand in 2017, you have met your measurable goal.

The “A” is for Achievable.  If you have no plan to lose weight or no idea how to pay for school, your goal is not very achievable.  Achievable equals planning and research toward meeting your goal.

“R” is for realistic. If your goal is to run a marathon and you have never run a 5k, and don’t like to run, your goal is not realistic!  Start with pursuing a sport you enjoy or completing a 5k, and move forward. Another example is to remedy a broken marriage in a few months’ time. Saving your marriage may take much longer and you need to consider that you are not the only piece of this puzzle. Make Plans that are realistic in your domain.  Goals should never include others, unless the goal is created as a team.

Finally, the “T” in SMART stands for timely. A time-based goal sets a boundary in which to achieve your goal.  Many fail here, as we are not comfortable with boundaries. Boundaries hold us accountable, similar to the specificity of a goal. Without the ability to set and maintain boundaries, in all aspects of life, we are bound to fail. The creation of a timely goal results in a time-bound or trackable goal.

So where does the SMART acronym leave us in creating our New Year’s resolution? Hopefully with the ability to make goals that are actually attainable. Losing 100 pounds in 3 months, or running a 3 hour marathon from a couch potato start, do not fit as SMART goals. And remember, the most important piece of any goal is to make a goal that fits your needs, not that of your neighbor.  Weight loss, advancing education, improving health, can all occur in many different forms. The goal must fit your life in order to be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Make the goal yours, make the goal SMART, and success will be right around the corner. Happy New Year and cheers to the success of all goals set for 2017!