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The best New year's resolution: Set SMARTer goals

Beginning of the New Year means turning over a new page, where everything is possible; we can finally achieve losing those extra pounds, or include more exercise in our busy routine, or even eat a more balanced diet and stay away from unhealthy food choices and behaviours.

True, most of us set the exact same goals at the beginning of last year, but now we actually feel ready and motivated to really work hard and achieve them. Regardless of our good intentions, however, research suggests that only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals, leaving us wondering:

Why do so many people fail to achieve the goals they have set and what is the secret behind those who actually achieve their resolutions?

One of the main reasons we fail is that we set huge goals to ourselves, which after a few weeks of excitement and self motivation, they start feeling tough to attain. Slowly, reality catches up and adding that extra run midweek or saying no to that dessert at work is getting harder and harder, so we allow the goal to fade from our priority list till the beginning of the next year.

The key is to take a moment to focus on the process of achieving our goal and break it down into more explicit SMART goals. SMART goals have become quite popular over the last few years with the SMART actually being an acronym for:






Let’s see the categories more closely and also how we can implement those elements in our New Year’s resolutions.

Specific are the goals with a definitive quality to them. Instead of keeping a vague goal like losing some weight over the next year, you can make it more specific by setting a goal to lose X amount of kilograms in the next Y time period. Answering questions like “how exactly am I going to achieve my goal?”, “when can I achieve it?”, “what are the limitations and how can I overcome them?” helps to set more specific goals.

Measurable means you break down your one big goal into elements that you can objectively measure and assess as successful or not. Try to eat healthier is not really a goal that can be followed up objectively, as there are many parameters that can affect this. Instead, include at least one vegetable at every meal provides a way to quantify the goal and allows you to evaluate on a daily basis if you have achieved your goal or not, maintaining your motivation.

Attainable is the element that takes into consideration your own skills and abilities. If you are trying to run a full marathon when your lifestyle over the last 10 years is mostly classified as sedentary, most likely you will feel overwhelmed or even discouraged as you are have probably been setting the bar a bit higher than your actual abilities. It is ok (and preferred) to start by setting a smaller, more easily achievable target, like for example complete a 10km or half marathon distance. The idea is to set a goal that could be a bit challenging based on your current routine, but that could be achieved with slightly more focused work rather than exhausting effort.

Realistic goals seem similar to the attainable ones, but here the focus lies more on parameters in our lifestyle and environment that can influence our success. For example, avoid eating after 7pm in the evening every day can be difficult to attain if your social life includes late dinners with friends or your family on a regular basis.

Time-bound adds the element of a specific time period in our goal. That gives us a specific deadline when we can evaluate if we achieved our goal or not. Building up your fitness level so you can run a 5km distance at 30 minutes is a specific, measurable and attainable goal, but there is a significant difference in achieving this goal within the next 2 months or over the next 2 years. More-over, smaller specific goals that maintain the element of time can provide you with a feeling of constant success and maintain your focus for the bigger goal you aim to achieve.

So, what will your New Year’s goals be?

For further help and tips on goal setting, feel free to contact HP Nutrition here .


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