We’re starting a saying around the Greater Houston Counseling Services office about new year’s resolutions, “Everyone’s got one and they’re all going to be forgotten by February.” Jokes aside, most people give up on their new year’s resolutions the moment life gets busy because they don’t have specific goals or measurable outcomes to achieve. If you’re really interested in making a change in 2021, consider creating a new year’s resolution that’s SMART. This acronym stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely. People who set SMART goals are much more likely to achieve them, so keep reading to learn more about how you can make SMART new year’s resolutions in 2021.
If your new year’s resolution is to get healthier, to make this resolution specific, you need to define healthier. What does it mean to you? Instead of simply saying I want to get healthier in 2021, you may set a goal to lose a certain amount of weight, exercise more often, or change your eating habits.
Once you set a specific goal with defined terms, you need to decide how you’re going to measure your success. If healthier means that you’re going to exercise more often, how do you know that you’ve achieved your goal? Will you be able to lift more weight, run farther or faster, or get up the stairs to your office without breaking a sweat? What result do you want to see once you’ve achieved your resolution?
You want to set goals that are challenging but achievable. Continuing the getting healthy example, if your “measurable” goal is that you want to lose a certain amount of weight, in order to make this measurable goal attainable, you need to set a weight loss goal that makes sense and can be safely achieved. Physicians usually recommend that people don’t try to lose more than one to two pounds each week. So, your attainable goal shouldn’t exceed this, and ideally, you would set a weight loss goal or other resolution that may impact your health with a physician.
Relevance is all about what a resolution means to you. Continuing the getting healthy example, this resolution may seem relevant to you, but if there’s no real “why” to the resolution, you’re unlikely to stick with it. We could all stand to be healthier, but you’ll have a better chance of achieving your goals if you set a resolution that is personally relevant to you. Being healthier may be beneficial, but why? What are the stakes if you’re not healthier? Instead of saying simply, “I want to get healthier this year,” consider the purpose of your resolution. My family has a genetic predisposition for diabetes. I don’t want to develop diabetes, so I’m going to start reducing my sugar consumption. Creating context and relevance for a resolution means you’re more likely to stick with it.
Without time constraints, you are much more likely to procrastinate or just forget about the resolution. So, instead of saying, “I’m going to get healthy this year,” set a timely goal like. “I’m going to swap fruit for desserts for two months.”
Partner with a Therapist to Achieve Your Resolutions
Many people think of working with a therapist as something to do after receiving a specific diagnosis or during a serious life crisis. Actually, therapy can be a great option when you’re trying to make any kind of change or navigating a challenging life situation – no diagnosis required. If you really want to set some new year’s resolutions and work to achieve them, talking with a therapist can offer accountability and support. If you’re interested in finding out more about the role of therapy in helping individuals achieve their goals, The Greater Houston Counseling Services team would love to hear from you. Reach out to us today to get started.