SMART – How to keep your new year resolutions

Goal Setting
Goal Setting

New year provides us with a perfect opportunity to set some goals, yet few of us stick with them for the full 12 months.


Goal setting is a skill that is rarely taught to us as kids, yet research back in the 60’s by Bandler and Grinder showed the power of using a structured method and the increased likelihood of a successful outcome.

So, let us set the scene.

January 1st arrives and looking in the mirror it is decided we will lose a little weight. There’s the goal – weight loss. To help us with our goal we decide to search for goal setting on the internet and we come across the SMART method.

The acronym is designed to be simple in it’s implementation and memorability and stands for:

  • S – Specific
  • M – Measurable
  • A – Achievable
  • R – Realistic
  • T – Timely

So let’s apply this to weight loss.

Specific – Weight loss on it’s own isn’t specific enough. So plan for how much weight you wish to lose. At this point, begin with the end in mind. You can set further, smaller goals to assist with this afterwards.

Measurable – Weight loss is measurable, assuming you have access to a set of bathroom scales. If we had chosen fitness over weight as our goal, we would have had to have given this more thought. Now just pick metric or imperial.

Achievable – It is absolutely imperative that we don’t set such a lofty goal that we cannot see us succeeding as soon as we begin. So we aim for a stone in six months (perhaps having taken advice from someone who knows about these things).

Achievable and realistic
Achievable and realistic

Realistic – Slightly different to achievable. Achievable is more about setting our chosen goal up for success. Realistic is about not setting a goal that is beyond us. So I might find it possible to lose weight as a goal, but it is perhaps not realistic to aim to be Britain’s next top model. Dismiss now the idea that you can be ‘anything’ if you put in enough work. Instead keep realistic. This doesn’t mean you cannot reach for lofty aims.

Timely – Decide when you are going to achieve your goal by. We have said six months so mark the date clearly in your diary; perhaps with a visible bookmark so you can see it closing in.

And that’s SMART goal setting.

Thanks to Tiff Franks for suggesting this series.

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