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SMART Goals

Make 2016 different!

Dear Ellen,
Here are my 4 New Year’s resolutions for 2016, eat healthy, move more, sleep more and lose weight. How can I be sure to stick to them this year?

These four resolutions are great to consider together as they all directly impact our ”inner calm” or capacity to manage stress, which affects approximately 50% of the population and is the number one workforce risk issue.

Most studies show resolutions begin to drop off after a week and only about 40% of those who make resolutions actually stick to their goals. These simple changes are designed to be fool proof and if you’ve encountered difficulties following through with your goals in the past, the first simple change to make is to make 2016 different!

Let’s begin by setting some SMART guidelines and a checklist for “goal setting 2016”

 S for Specific

What exactly do you want to achieve and why? The more specific your description, the bigger the chance you'll get exactly that. S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between “I want to lose weight” and “I want to lose a kilo a month in 2016 by adapting new healthy habits.”

 M for Measurable

When you measure your progress, you are more likely to stay on track, to reach your target dates and experience the exhilaration of achievement that motivates you to the next goal. Defining the physical manifestations of your goal or objective makes it clearer, and often easier to reach. To determine if your goal is measurable, ask questions such as……How much? How many? How will I know when it is accomplished?

 A for Attainable

Attainable means considering whether the goal really is acceptable to you. You weigh the effort, time and other costs your goal will take against its benefits and the other obligations and priorities in your life. You can attain almost any goal you set when you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that allows you to carry out those steps. Goals that may have seemed far away and out of reach eventually move closer and become attainable, not because your goals shrink, but because you grow and expand to match them.

 R for Realistic

To be realistic, a goal must represent an objective toward which you are both willing and able to work. A goal can be both ambitious and realistic and you are the only one who can decide just how ambitious your goal should be. Every goal should, however, represent substantial progress to you personally.

 T for Timely

Deadlines are what make most people shift into action. So, install deadlines for yourself and go after them. Keep the timeline realistic and flexible, that way you can keep morale high while maintaining a sense of urgency. Being too stringent on the timely aspect of your goal setting can have the perverse effect of making the learning path of achieving your goals and objectives a stressful race against time.

 Microscopic and No Fail

Unhealthy behaviours develop over the course of time. Thus, replacing unhealthy behaviours with healthy ones requires time too. By defining microscopic, do-able goals and working toward changing one thing at a time, we get less overwhelmed. For example, “I will walk 3 times 10 minutes every day” sounds much easier than “30 “minutes a day”. You must be able to say to yourself “this is a goal that I know I cannot fail”. By doing so, you gain confidence step-by-step as your work toward improvement, not perfection.

 Accountability

Accepting help from those who care about you and will listen strengthens your resilience and ability to manage any stress caused by your resolution. If you feel overwhelmed or unable to meet your goals on your own, consider seeking support. Share your experiences with family, friends or a coach. Consider joining a group to reach your goals, such as a workout class at your gym or with co-workers. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes your journey to a healthier lifestyle that much easier and less intimidating. Facebook and other Social Media are a time-saving way of staying accountable.

 Keep it positive

A final thing that is very important when setting SMART goals is formulating it POSITIVELY. Isn’t it more motivating to increase your fruit and vegetable intake (positive) than to reduce your junk food (negative)? Even if one leads to the other, focusing on the positive is more fun!

 BAM Breath, Accept, Move On

Perfection is unattainable and slip but don’t fall! Mistakes while reaching your goals are completely normal and OK. Everyone has ups and downs. This year, resolve to recover from your mistakes and get back on track, shifting to another goal if the current one does not seem do-able. Remember, the first simple change to make is to make 2016 different!

Lets move on…

The New Year is a time to reflect on past behaviour and to make positive lifestyle changes. Setting small, simple, SMART goals throughout the year, instead of a single, overwhelming goal on January 1st can help you reach whatever it is you strive for. It is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change that is important and working toward it, with one simple change at a time.

Let’s go through each of the 4 resolutions and run them through the checklist establishing potential SMART “one simple changes” to help reach your goals!

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