Updated: Jan 5
New year, New You, or at least you hope. The holiday season can be daunting, with darker days, holiday shopping, and busy schedules keeping you from optimal emotional well-being. The new year brings a promise of starting fresh. However, how often have you done a "winter cleanse," but come spring, your goals are forgone, and you are back to old habits?
It is important to remember that it is normal for everyday humdrum to foreshadow long-term goals. Times like the new year bring an opportunity to reflect on the past year's behavior and think about ways to make positive lifestyle changes to optimize your emotional health.
We break down the SMART goal model to help make your resolutions stick in 2023. Setting SMART goals allows you to clarify your thoughts, find motivation, identify barriers, and use your time productively to help you not get lost in repetitive day-to-day tasks. Remember to look for consistency, not perfection!
To make sure your resolutions are clear and attainable, each one should be:
Make your goal specific! The more clear and precise your goal is, the more you will be able to focus on your efforts and feel motivated. When creating your plan, think of the big "W" questions.
What do I want to accomplish?
Who can support me while I achieve my goal?
Who is involved?
Why is the goal important?
Where is it located?
Which resources or barriers are involved?
When can I participate?
Making your goal measurable allows you to track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress gives you data points to help you stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel excited about getting closer to achieving your goal. Remember to reward yourself when meeting a significant data point!
Questions to ask yourself to help you make your goal measurable:
How will I know when it is accomplished?
For optimal success, your goal needs to be realistic and attainable. You should feel challenged, but it should still be within your abilities. Setting an achievable goal allows you to evaluate resources that may have been previously overlooked.
Questions to ask yourself to ensure your goal is achievable:
How can I accomplish this goal?
Are any significant barriers (transportation, finances, location, etc.) impacting me from achieving my goal?
This step may seem redundant, but it is the most important! This step ensures that this goal matters to you and aligns with your long-term goals. You are in control of your goal, so while you may seek support along the way, you must remain responsible for your own goal.
Questions to ask yourself to ensure your goal is relevant:
Is this worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Is this goal appropriate for my current circumstances?
Does this match my efforts or needs?
Who am I doing this for?
Every goal should have a target date. This helps prevent the humdrum of an everyday routine from taking priority. Remember to re-evaluate your plans once you reach the end of your time-bound timeline.
Questions to ask yourself to ensure your goal is time-bound:
What can I do six weeks/months from now?
What can I do today?
When should I re-evaluate my goals?
The new year brings an opportunity for you to take control of your emotional well-being. You are worth investing in and making time for. Challenges from the past year have helped you grow, and using the SMART tool can help you reach your goals and optimal success.
If you find yourself having difficulties with goal setting and feel that you need help, Ebb & Flow Counseling + Coaching is a new telepsychology practice that can assist you with realistic goal setting, personal growth, and uncover your motivation. Please feel free to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Maya, L. (2019). Smart Goals Expertise Training Guide. Estalontech.