Be SMART about your New Year Resolutions

Happy New Year readers!

We are looking forward to what 2016 brings. The new year is always a time to reflect on the year past and consider what you hope to get out of the year to come.

Have you made resolutions? There are many articles with guidelines on how to make resolutions that stick, and also many opinions that resolutions are not useful at all! It is up to you to decide what works for you, but we thought we'd share a common occupational therapy strategy when thinking about your upcoming year and changes you want to make. This strategy can be applied to work, home life, relationships, leisure activities, exercise, healthy eating, cutting out bad habits...anything at all! It is a simple technique that can be really effective. The technique is called setting SMART goals. SMART goals are goals that are set using criteria outlined here:

S- Specific

M- Measurable

A- Achievable 

R- Relevant

T- Timed 

Specific - What do you really want to accomplish? Set you goal with precise terms so there is no confusion on what you want to accomplish. Think of the 5 Ws - who, what, where, when and why. 

Measurable - Include measures that will help you judge your process and make it clear when you have achieved your goal.

Achievable - Do you have enough control to make this goal happen? Is this goal achievable? Setting unachievable goals puts failure at the back of your mind so make sure you are setting goals that are achievable.

Relevant - Is this goal in line with other goals you have set? Does it fit with your short- and long-term plans? Meaningful goals align with your big picture hopes and dreams and you are more likely to succeed if they are related to other areas of your life.

Timed - What is the deadline for the goal? How long will you spend working towards the goal, and specifically when will this happen? Determine a date, timeframe or schedule for your goal.

Instead of setting a resolution that you want to exercise more, set a SMART goal that may be something like: "Lift weights twice a week for 30 minutes for 4 weeks in a row". Instead of setting a goal of staying in touch with friends better, try "Reach out to one friend I've lost touch with via email or phone the first week of every month".

You can use the SMART goal technique to set resolutions or goals any time of the year! Let us know what you hope to achieve this year in the comments.


Photo credit: Kimson Doan