When your birthday falls so close to the New Year, as it does with mine, I often feel a greater need to reflect, look back, take stock, and resolve to do better in the coming year. The older I get, the more I realize the absolute importance of a healthy lifestyle for maintaining good health. This year, I encourage you to set goals not resolutions.
In the past, my ambitious and unsustainable New Year’s resolutions to lose weight with an aggressive diet program or go from zero to one hundred with an exercise routine set me up for failure. I wasn’t alone. Studies show about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail because they are too vague or too lofty.
Thoughtfully set “SMART” goals are a better way to help shape a new healthy habit. SMART is an acronym for goals that are: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time Sensitive.
To create your own goals, first think about your values. When your goals match up with the values that are important to you, then you’re more likely to prioritize them. This makes it more successful to stick to than a New Year’s resolution.
What are the SMART Criteria?
- Specific – What specific thing do I want to accomplish? What action will you take? Don’t be afraid to get detailed.
- Measurable – How will I measure or track the goal?
- Achievable – Is the goal something that I can reach? Do I have the tools and support to accomplish it? What are the items I need to achieve this goal?
- Realistic – Is now the right time to do this? Why is this goal important to me?
- Time Sensitive – When will I reach this goal? Is the time frame reasonable?
And don’t forget – no one is perfect! There will be hurdles and slip-ups along the way. If you don’t meet your goal the first time, it’s easy to go back and modify it. Think of it as a practice run – there’s no self-blame!
By Maryam Salehpour, M.D.
I can’t wait to chat with you about your health goals for 2022!
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