New Years Resolutions for 2012? Make them SMART goals!
With the beginning of January upon us again, it’s that time of year when many of us including the team at UK Dietitian decide to make some New Years Resolutions, but what is the best way to make those new years resolutions really work for you and last past the end of January?
Research has shown that SMART goal setting is key in making healthy lifestyle changes for the long term. A key part of this is creating realistic targets for yourself that you are going to be able to achieve within a certain period of time. This will help to keep you focused and maintain your motivation even when temptation is wafting under your nose!
The SMART goal system is an easy way to focus your New Years resolutions to form tangible goals and increase your chances of success. Just follow the easy 5 step plan below to make you goal for 2012 SMART.
STEP 1: Specific
Make sure that you are specific about your goal, this will help to focus on what you want to achieve. So instead of just saying ‘ I want to be in better shape’ or ‘I want to eat better’ you can focus these goals to ‘I would like to reduce my weight ‘ or ‘I would like to increase the number of portions of fruit and vegetables I eat’.
STEP 2: Measurable
To further develop your goal make sure that what you are trying to do is measurable or can be quantified in some way. This is important as it allows you to monitor your progress, showing you how well you are progressing towards your target and helping to keep your motivation sustained. The above examples can be developed to make them measurable ‘I would like to reduce my weight by 5%’ or ‘I would like to increase my intake of fruit and vegetables from three portions to five portions per day’.
STEP 3: Achievable
An important part of the SMART goal setting system is to make sure that what you are aiming for is achievable. You don’t want to set your sights too low by choosing a goal that you can achieve with little effort as this is a waste of your time however don’t set yourself up to fail by aiming for something that is impossible to achieve as this will leave you feeling frustrated and reduce the likelihood of making long term changes.
STEP 4: Realistic
This step is about making sure that what you are proposing to do is realistic and relevant to your life. In an ideal world you might want to eat fresh, hand made organic food at every meal and go to the gym every day but if like most of us you have a hectic work and home schedule and a budget to work with then you need to factor this in when developing your personal goal. For example, you can increase your intake of fruit and vegetables even on a budget by using tinned, frozen and dried fruit and vegetables as well as the more expensive fresh produce.
STEP 5: Timely
The final step in making you New Years Resolution a SMART goal is to make sure that your goal is timely and has a target date to achieve it by. ‘I want to reduce my weight by 5% by the end of March’ or ‘I will increase my intake of fruit and vegetables from three portions to five portions per day by March’. This final step gives you a goalpost to aim for and helps prevent your good intentions being sidelined once you return to your busy daily routine after the festive period is over. It can be helpful to plot your progress in your diary and have your target date highlighted on your calendar to help you refocus if you’re having a bad week.
Check out our ‘New Years Resolutions’ page for some inspiration and to see the SMART goals that our dietitians will be striving for in 2012. If you would like one- to- one support with a dietitian in developing and achieving your New Year’s Healthy Lifestyle Resolution contact us at UK Dietitian for information on our ‘New Years Resolution Package offer’.
Written by Briony Young RD