SMART: Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Realistic; Time-Sensitive
As we begin the new year, many of us will be taking time to reflect on the year that has passed. Maybe you are reflecting on all that you have accomplished, or maybe you are reflecting on all that you hoped to accomplish but did not, such as the past year’s resolutions. Setting a New Years Resolution has become a common practice in our society, yet the act of achieving these resolutions is not as common.
Through social media posts and word of mouth, I have observed trends in New Years Resolutions revolving around diet, exercise and improving one’s overall health. I have also noticed trends in these resolutions being forgotten or not achieved within the course of the year often leaving us feeling frustrated and discouraged. Why is it that we are not achieving these resolutions? One reason for this is that many resolutions made are not specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-sensitive, or SMART for short. SMART techniques are used in many professional fields for developing goals and resolutions including nutrition and health related fields where SMART Goals are often the basis for developing nutrition care plans.
In this post, I will go through the process of developing a nutrition related SMART Goal with the hopes that this will help you to create a SMART New Years Resolution of your own.
My example New Years Resolution is to eat healthier. This is a very common resolution; however, it is also very vague. In order to make this SMART, we first need to define a Specific goal. By defining a specific goal, you can better prepare yourself for success. For example, I would like to start packing a lunch instead of eating out at lunch. This outlines a specific way that I will be improving my eating habits.
If I stick with the goal of packing a lunch instead of eating out, I can make this goal Measurable by saying I will pack a lunch on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. I know that this will be Attainable, because I have time the nights before to prepare my lunch and I am able to make a double portion at dinner from the night before to pack as my main lunch entree. This is a Realistic goal as I know that I will have the time to prepare my lunches and I will already be preparing dinner the nights before which will save me the time and effort of having to plan and prepare a separate lunch item. To make this goal Time-Sensitive, I will set a review date of February first. This gives me a time frame for meeting my goal and will also double as a time to review my progress and determine if I am needing to change anything in order to better meet my goal.
After reviewing the SMART techniques, my New Years Resolution of starting to pack a lunch instead of eating out at lunch has been transformed into the following:
Starting January 1st until February 1st, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays I will bring left overs from my dinner the previous night as my lunch.
Once this timeline has ended, I can review my progress and decide if this goal will be attainable for another stretch of time or if I will need to alter my goal for the future. An example of a goal alteration would be to reduce the amount of days that I bring my lunch to work or increase the amount of days that I bring my lunch.
Now that you are familiar with SMART Goals and how they are created, I challenge you to use these techniques when creating your 2019 New Years Resolutions!
Heather Deck BScAHN, P.Dt (c)