Specific – A specific goal tends to be much easier to stick to than a general goal. Rather than saying “I want to exercise more this year,” you could say “I will go to the gym and do 60 minutes on the elliptical on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays in January.”
Measurable – When you set a goal, you want to have some way to measure your success. How will you know if you’ve achieved your goal? Will it be a number of pounds lost? Number of servings of veggies eaten each day? Minutes working out each week?
Attainable – As you list your goals, think about the qualities, skills, and knowledge you need to achieve them. It may help if you list these out. The more you develop your plan of action, the more attainable your goal will seem and the more likely you are to be successful in achieving it.
Realistic – A goal you choose should be something that is feasible for you to accomplish this year. You have to be mentally and physically able to do whatever you set your goal to be. You must also be willing to work towards it. There is no magic pill to make us lose weight, tone up, or prevent chronic diseases – it takes effort, but it can be fun (need proof? Check out our 2012 Challenge!).
Timely – Set a time frame for your goal. Saying “I want to lose weight this year” is a very long time frame and non-specific. “I want to lose 4 pounds by February 15th by reducing takeout and cooking more low calorie meals” gives you a concrete date and plan for your goal. At each time point, you can evaluate how far you’ve come (i.e. the measurable part) and note that you’ve completed your goal, or you can modify it if needed.
What are your goals for this year? Feel free to share in the comments!