Wednesday, January 1, 2014

S.M.A.R.T

January 1, 2014

Here we are. January 1st. A new year. The day when millions of people decide "today is the day" to start something new, to set goals and to stick with them. Facebook and other social media sites are flooded with people posting statuses that their "healthy eating" is going to start today. Gym memberships go through the roof by virtue of sales, free trials and zero start up fees. People say they will "keep in touch" with others. They might decide that they are going to "quit" something... smoking, swearing, drinking... whatever the case may be. I am a huge fan of goal setting, but the thing that I find to be a huge pet peeve (and I can say I have even been guilty of it myself) is when when someons "resolution" is preceded or followed with the phrase "I know I say this every year but.." Not to mention the reasoning behind waiting until January 1st, or the first of the month, or "next Monday" to start pushing towards a goal. Why does this happen. How did we become programmed to think this way?

I can understand the thought behind starting on a Monday, a new month, or even if its close enough to December 31st to be the kickoff... It feels like a new beginning, a stating point maybe. Realistically though, we should start the fight the day we decide what the ultimate goal is. If you want to "start working out" and its November... than you decide that its not "worth it" until after the holidays... what makes you think that you wont have another reason to put it off again in January?

Why is it that we have these ideas for ourselves, these goals that we set year after year... only to fall back into old habits shortly after. How can something be "so important" one minute than not so important the next. Why do we always feel like we are failing? In  my opinion... from personal experience... is not being SMART with my goal setting.

How many times have you heard the phrase "this year I am going to eat better." How about "I am going to get a gym membership and start getting healthy this year." Than there is the ultimate "I am going to save money and pay off bills this year." I havent just heard these phrases, I have said them. Plenty of times. The kicker is, if I keep saying them and do nothing about them I am going to wind up right back where I started months later. Either that or I am going to go crazy with my "goal" for 2 weeks, maybe a month... than poof... its gone. Takes the back seat to something else, maybe a new goal or something more exciting, even something easier to achieve.

Ok, Sarah... what are you getting at here? This is a lesson in goal setting. How to set a goal and actually reach it. I was taught this method long ago, it popped up again in my life at a project management seminar I was at for work and low and behold, it has been written on the wall at the gym on the personal goals board. We should use this method when setting our "New Years Resolutions" and any other professional or personal goal in life.

First off, the reason most people fail at their goals are simple:

1. They are too big
2. They have too many
3. They are not specific
4. They are not written

You need to learn to be S.M.A.R.T. with your goals.


Lets break it down....

S - Be Specific - Say EXACTLY what you want to achieve. dont be vauge. Rather than saying "I am going save more money," you have to make it more specific "I am going to put X amount of  money away every other week when I get paid." (I have a $ amount in my actual written goals, but keeping my finances off the internet is probably wise). A specific goal is  much more likely to be accomplished than a general goal.

M  - Make it Measurable - Being able to keep track of the progress is key. Can I see a savings account growing in a statement... do I have a jar filled with change that gets more full by the day... This might be a little more difficult if your goal is emotional or something not as "physical" as money... however being able to see the progress is motivation in itself.

A - It has to be Attainable - Is the goal achievable... do I make enough money to save what I am asking myself to save? Will it put me in a bind if I save it? If I am setting a CF goal, does it make sense? Can I do a muscle up if I cant do consistent chest to bar pullups? Am I banging my head against the wall trying to skip the middle step?

R - Is this a Realistic Goal? - There is no way I am going to save $300,000 this year. I could never set that as my goal. The goal has to be relevant to your life. It has to be something that is feasible. I can not set a crossfit goal of snatching 300lbs when my actual snatch is only 135lbs. It is not realistic nor relevant to my current situation.

T - What is the Timeframe?! - This is the most important one! There has to be a timeline. By XYZ date I have to accomplish THIS. I have to save $1000 by February. I want to get a muscle up by March. I will limit my cheat meals to one meal a week for the next two months. Start small, set new goals when the first is achieved.

Take a look at your goals. Take a look at your "resolutions." If its something you have told yourself to do before and you havent, look at them again and make them SMART resolutions. You will be happier, you will be more successful and you will notice a difference in how you approach them.

Happy New Year! May 2014 be the year you reach your goals, set new ones and become the happiest you can be with yourself.

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