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Making New Year's Goals — And Keeping Them

Question: Dear Anne, I feel like I always set New Year’s Resolutions, but by the end of January, I have stopped. I need help knowing how to set an appropriate goal and how to keep it. 

When counselors talk with clients about setting and meeting their goals, they try to make sure the goals are S.M.A.R.T. 

Specific

First, we want to make sure the goals we set are Specific. Having specific goals helps a person feel more confident about what they are setting out to do, as much of the ambiguity is taken away. The more specific your goals are, the more likely you are to achieve them. 

Measurable

Second, we want to make goals that are Measurable. For example, if your goal is to exercise and get in shape, then you would want to come up with a number of days a week that you would workout and the amount of time you would work out each day. You might say that you would workout 3 days a week for 30 minutes each day.  

Attainable

Third, goals should be Attainable. When you set goals for yourself that are attainable, you will be able to see yourself accomplish your goals. Therefore, you will be less likely to become discouraged. Set goals small enough that you will be able to reach them. As you attain one of your goals, you will develop more confidence to accomplish your next goal!  

Realistic

Fourth, we want to set goals that are Realistic. Your goals should not take up too much time to fit into your schedule on a regular basis, or be ones you would quickly become tired of doing. They should be goals that you have the means to achieve. For example, if your goal is to get in shape and you are on a tight budget this year, then your goal would likely not include a personal trainer, but maybe would include going to the park 3 days a week for a walk or run. Furthermore, your goals should be realistic so that you are able to maintain them.  

Time

Finally, goals should be Time bound. For example, if you want to be able to run a half marathon one day, you are more likely to achieve that goal if you set a time limit for yourself and say that you want to be able to run a half-marathon one year from now. If you simply say that you will do it “one day,” when will you begin to start training and taking steps towards reaching your goal?  

Setting goals gives you long-term vision and short-term motivation. When you set goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound you are more likely to achieve them. As we begin the New Year, let’s not forget about our resolutions. Let’s make S.M.A.R.T. plans now and set out to achieve our goals! If your New Year's goals are not S.M.A.R.T., and you are having a hard time keeping up, consider developing a S.M.A.R.T. plan and starting over instead of throwing in the towel. You can do this! 

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“Ask Anne” was a blog series previous posted on pathwaysprofessional.org.

 

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