By Nancy Alexander, PT, CSCS
Every year millions of people make New Year’s resolutions, hoping to spark positive change. You may be one of them. What is the most common resolution made? You guessed it, exercise more. What is number two? Lose weight. The list goes on. What doesn’t go on is how long these efforts tend to last. Alas, there is a better way.
Numbers tell the story. Of those who make a New Year’s resolution, after one week 75% are still successful in keeping it. After two weeks, the number drops to 71%. After one month, the number drops again to 64%. And after six months, 46% of people who make a resolution are still successful in keeping it. (discoverhappyhabits.com)
I have witnessed this first hand. While working at the Canandaigua YMCA (New York) for many years, the same pattern emerged year after year. In January, the parking lot was always packed and it was often difficult to find a nearby parking space. February came and it was still crowded but slightly less so. By March, parking availability had returned to near normal. Only three months had passed and the change was remarkable.
Longer term, the statistics are even worse. According to a 2016 study from the source above, of the 41% of Americans who made New Year’s resolutions, by the end of the year only 9% felt they were successful in keeping them. These are poor results indeed.
Common reasons given for why resolutions failed are that people:
- Set unrealistic goals
- Failed to keep track of their progress
- Forgot about their resolutions
- Made too many resolutions
How about you set yourself up for success instead of failure? How about you find a way to keep your intent alive? How about you find a system, a process, that can help you get there?
Let’s put a plan in place. Let’s map out your path so we can increase your chance of success. Let’s start now. The good news is you don’t have to start from scratch to devise this plan. There is no reason to reinvent the wheel when there are good systems already out there. Why not pick a system with a great track record, remarkable even. Let’s get smart.
I was reminded of the SMART system recently when I agreed to speak at an upcoming event for Oasis National. The setting of fall prevention SMART goals will be featured at the Oasis National Falls Day program, scheduled for March 2, 2023. The methodology can be a great foundation for achievement as it provides a clear and simple framework for success. Some of you have probably heard of it, especially if you are/were in the teaching profession. If it is good enough for Oasis, it is good enough for you and me.
Both Peter Drucker (1955) and G.T. Doran (1991) have been credited with developing the model. Doran’s original definition tied in five criteria:
- Specific: target a specific area for improvement.
- Measurable: quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress.
- Assignable: specify who will do it.
- Realistic: state what results can realistically be achieved given available resources.
- Time-related: specify when the result can be achieved.
Doran saw that by helping people focus their attention in these five areas, they would improve their chance of success. I propose that we take this system and make it relevant to your needs right now. And maybe even expand on it a bit.
Using the SMART model as the foundation, here are seven ways to increase your chance of success:
- Don’t make resolutions just once a year. Instead, set goals anytime you feel the need to make a change. Why limit yourself? Seize the opportunities that come into your life throughout the year. Truth is, you can make a change in your life anytime you want.
- Improve your mindset. Only when you expect to succeed, do you have a chance to reach your goal.
- Set one goal at a time. Dial in on what is most important and give that your full attention. Make the necessary change. Establishing a new behavior takes time for it to become a habit. What you do consistently matters. Some say it takes 2-3 months to make a new habit permanent. And that is with focus, serious intent and follow-up. Creating effective habits increase your chance of success.
- Make your goal specific and measurable. Instead of saying, “I am going to exercise more,” try to add more details. A better goal might be, “I am going to exercise 3x/week for 3 months and reassess my needs then.”
- Keep track of your progress with a journal or log. Revisit your goal frequently, daily if you must, to help you stick with it. You are too important to put it on a shelf and forget about it. Live in it, imagine what your new life will be like. Write about it. Create your new story.
- Share your goal. Discuss your goal with a family member or a good friend. Or both. By putting your goal out there, you are making a commitment. You are now accountable for your advertised actions. Accountability matters and it works. And who knows, they may even join you.
- Reward yourself. Plan to reward yourself once your new goal is reached. Be clear though that your reward is not stopping. No – this reward is unrelated to your goal. Maybe the reward is going away with your gal pals for a special weekend to a special destination. Make it meaningful to you, make it matter.
You are worthy of a better life with more energy and better health. The time to act is now. Let the SMART goal methodology work for you. I look forward to hearing about your success.
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For more information about Oasis, visit Oasisnet.org. As one of the speakers for the FREE Oasis National Falls Day, more information can be found on my events page at www.prosolutions55.com/events.