Now that 2014 has almost come to an end, many people are drawing up their New Year’s resolutions. The common list looks something like this:
- Go to the gym every day
- Stop drinking completely
- Learn a new language
- Master an instrument
- Gain superhuman spidey senses
Okay, the last one I made up, but it emphasises that while most of these clichéd New Year’s Resolutions are laudable, they’re not all particularly realistic. Most of the time, people soon give up on these goals because they’re doomed to fail from the start. So what can be done to set some goals that can be stuck to?
The SMART acronym provides a good starting point. Goals that are SMART must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Take the first point on the above list as an example. It’s clear that it’s not realistic or even advisable to go to the gym every day. The gym is always a nightmare in January when swarms of well-intentioned people want to improve their fitness. But give it a month, and a tumbleweed can usually be found blowing around most of these gyms. I think that people stop going to the gym because their goals are unrealistic — they expect fast results and set their sights so high that no matter what they do, they’re never satisfied, and worse yet, they give up. A better goal would be to train at the gym two or three times a week to improve overall fitness.
Using the SMART framework, sensible goals can be set. But what can make a goal more credible, and how can we make it habitual? One way to do this is to tell everyone about your New Year’s resolutions, from friends to family and beyond. While this strategy may annoy others, it creates more of an obligation to make it happen.
That’s all for now. Happy New Year, everyone!