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Setting Effective New Years Resolutions

It is that time of year again when we are looking towards/back at Christmas, then looking down at that bit of a budge that we have put on. It springs into many people minds to set themselves some new years resolutions based around health and fitness. But lets face it, how many of you have looked back at the resolutions you set last year, or what we are going to refer to as goals, and have achieved them? Unfortunately not many people do go on to achieve what they have set out to do, but why?

I feel that by following some simple goal setting rules, and this is not just post Christmas, but all year round, you can greatly increase your chance of achieving your goals. So lets take a look at the SMARTER system for setting goals, all goals must be:-

Specific – Goals must be specific to what you want to achieve, a goal such as to ‘get fitter’ is too vague to be used motivationally. A specific goal needs to be along the lines of ‘to improve my fitness levels to a point where I can run a 10K’.

Measurable – All goals must have some form or measurable element such as a time, a weight or the completion of an event, so you clearly know when you have achieved your goal. A goal such as ‘to lose weight’ is useless as it has no clear end point.

Agreed – If you do not feel that you can achieve a goal, then you will have no ownership of it and therefore it loses it’s motivating power. Goals must therefore be considered achievable and agreed to by all parties involved.

Realistic – A goal must be challenging but achievable. If you feel you can’t achieve the goals that have been set by you then they will have no motivational effect.

Time Framed – If a goal is not time framed then it is easy to put it off, therefore increasing the risk for failure.

Exciting – Goals must excite you, if you are excited about it you are much more likely to get up and work towards achieving it.

Recorded – Writing down your goal allows you to fix and focus on what you are looking to achieve.

If I take a common example of a guy who comes to a personal trainer and would like to loose 2 stone. The goal outline might look like the following:-

‘To loose 2 stone, over the next year, so I weigh 12 stone on the 31st December 2009’.

This goal meets all the criteria of the SMARTER principle, it is specific in that he wants to loose 2 stone, it is measurable as a specific time has been set. It has been agreed between the two parties who both think it is challenging but realistic. And a specific date it is set by which he would like to achieve the weight loss, so it is time framed.

Once you have set yourself a goal it is then time to work on your strategy that will help you achieve it. This is done by initially setting a number of sub-goals with motivating rewards. These should also follow the SMARTER principle!

So for our guy he might se similar goals at 3 months, 6 months and 9 month. These would take the format of ‘I would like to loose 8lb by 1st April, making my weight 13st6lb’. He may also set goals that might add to his main goals such as ‘ take a course of Personal Training in my first 3 months of training’ or ‘use a nutritionist to help me formulate a diet plan, during my first 3 months of training’.

Once this goal outline is completed it should not be put away in a drawer to gather dust, read over it regularly place it somewhere prominent where you will see it daily. By doing this you are focusing your mind on the goal that you have set yourself and you are preventing deviation from it.

Although goal setting like this may seem like a lengthy process compared to the relative ease of just saying in your head ‘I am going to lose 2 stone’, once you get into the habit of doing it you will soon start to see the motivational rewards of having a clearly defined goal and achievement.

I hope that by this time next year you will be looking back seeing a year of achievement, whatever your goals may be.



This entry was posted on Saturday, January 2nd, 2010 at 6:00 pm and is filed under Articles. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.