As the New Year is approaching, many of us are thinking about resolutions to change ourselves for the better. Many people vow to lose weight or exercise more. But how many of us actually keep those resolutions for even a month into the new year?
A better way to make a life change is to create a S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely) goal. Humans are creatures of habit, when something in our routine changes drastically we find it difficult to adapt and often give up. Imagine someone whose been eating a donut everyday for breakfast for the past 10 years, and now because he/she wants to lose weight switches to oatmeal and fruit every morning. How long will that change last? How can they monitor their progress? I can tell you for most people it will not be long! By making a series of small changes, you create small steps instead of giant leaps toward your goal. If we apply the S.M.A.R.T. goals to this situation, maybe the goal would be to add a piece of fruit to the usual breakfast donut for a month. The next goal could be to cut the donut in half the following month. Eventually, the person will be able to change their diet, but in a gradual, sustainable way.
In my own life, I have found making S.M.A.R.T. goals to be highly effective at making lifelong changes. One year ago, I gave up all carbonated beverages. I used to drink lots of diet sodas, but I realized the acid can cause dental enamel to erode and your blood to become acidic leading to a whole host of diseases. At first, I just started brewing my own unsweetened ice tea at home and keeping a pitcher of it at all times in the fridge. I still drank diet soda for the first month or so, but eventually I replaced them completely. I started feeling much healthier, and realized I could make other changes. Shortly thereafter, I decided to reduce and eventually eliminate red meat from my diet. Again, I felt much healthier and my exercise stamina improved greatly. In turn, this has allowed me to exercise more and has prevented me from gaining weight. S.M.A.R.T. goals are stepping stones to major changes in your life.
This New Year’s Eve, find out what your first S.M.A.R.T. goal will be, write it down, post it on your fridge, share it with a friend. Make that change happen!