With the New Year comes the annual tradition of making a list of resolutions that are often nothing more than faded dreams by Groundhog Day. There are several common ones – lose weight, save money, or break a bad habit like smoking. Why do we have so much trouble making progress on these goals that are so good for us?
I ditched the whole resolution thing a few years ago, after reading Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. Instead of starting with a grand, but directionless flourish, I started living my life more intentionally. I focus my time and energy on the things that matter most in my life.
When I started working with Cub Scouts, I attended Boy Scouts training that further clarified how to live intentionally. I set goals my based on fundamental values and allocate time each week to work on improving areas of focus. To keep myself motivated I choose smaller goals. If a life goal is to learn continually, a smaller goal is taking a class.
This is where my Boy Scout training comes in. A Boy Scout goal is SMART.
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
Let’s use the typical “lose weight” resolution that is on so many New Year’s lists and make it a SMART goal. To make our example specific, we need to determine how much weight we want to loose; let’s say 15 pounds. Is this a goal we can measure? Every time we get on the scale; I’m also going to record my weight on a weekly basis to be actively measuring my progress. Fifteen pounds would be a challenge for me to loose, but it is attainable – whereas 115 pounds would be beyond my wildest dreams (and unhealthy too).
If losing weight is my goal, a weekly phone call to my mom may not be relevant to that goal; unless I’m jogging during the phone call. This is a great place to talk about setting up a plan to meet your goal. Some relevant sub-goals to losing 15 pounds could be exercising for 30 minutes daily, logging your food or restricting calories.
Finally, how long is it going to take you to lose 15 pounds? It’s realistic to lose a pound a week, so I could say 15 weeks or round it up to four months. Now I’ve turned my vague resolution of “losing weight” into a goal with a plan; lose 15 pounds by April 30. To reach this goal, I’m going to exercise 30 minutes a day, six days a week; log the food I eat and weigh in weekly. Now that is a SMART goal!
Check out these articles for ideas to get your family moving!