• By Julie Stefanski
  • In 2020
  • December 29, 2020

New Year, New (SMART) Goals

By: Laura M. Ali, MS, RDN, LDN

The new year is a great time to reflect, renew, and recharge.  We start the year with high hopes and big plans.  After a break from work and our normal daily lives, almost everything seems possible and we resolve to be better, take action and make the next year our year to make big changes.  But many of those well-intentioned plans fall by the wayside after a few weeks.  

Surveys have shown that only 12% of Americans are able to keep most of their New Year’s resolutions!   Is it just busy lives that get in the way or are we overly ambitious and setting our sights too high?  

How can you approach things differently this year to be more successful?  

What if you were to reframe those resolutions and treat them as goals.  What is the difference between resolutions and goals? Goals tend to be specific and something that can be measured, where resolutions are more often thoughts and desires and, let’s face it, sometimes lofty.

The first step in setting a goal is to ask “why”.  Why do you want to achieve this goal?  Do you have a strong enough “why” to keep you motivated?  If you want to lose 10 pounds to feel better and have more energy, that might be a strong enough “why”.  If you are doing it because someone said you should, that may not be a good enough reason to keep you motivated to see it through.  

Once you have your “why” and know it is something that you are motivated to do, work through these 5 steps to set you on a path to accomplish your goal.  

Be Specific: 

It’s easy to set a vague goal such as getting in shape, losing weight or saving money, but if the goal is more specific it’s easier to achieve.  Rather than “get in shape”, set a goal to take a 30-minute walk or go to the gym, twice a week.  Instead of “eat healthy” how about “eat one more vegetable every day”? 

Make it Measurable: 

Make the goal something you can easily track.  Did you accomplish your walking plan or savings plan?  If you plan for $5 a week, look at your bank account at the end of the month and you’ll be able to see how you are doing. If you need to adjust it you can.  

Make it Actionable: 

Write down a plan for exactly how you will reach your goal.  Maybe you will write out a menu every week so you know exactly what vegetable you will eat.  Or, you will block a time on your calendar to walk every day.  Figuring out the steps you need to take to reach your goal will help you be successful.

Make it Realistic: 

Sure, it would be fantastic to save $30,000 in a year for a new kitchen or car, or to run a marathon in the spring, but is that realistic?  Take some time to think through what you can realistically do and write out a plan to accomplish that.  You can build on your success and add to it later.

Set a Timeframe

Maybe you want to save enough for a family vacation in August, so you need to have a certain amount in your bank account by the end of July.  By the end of March, you want to compete in a 5K or have lost 10 pounds.  Whatever your goal, set a time frame so you can stop and take a look to see how you’ve done.  At that point, maybe you add another small goal and keep moving forward!

These are called SMART goals and while this system originally applied to management, the concepts can apply to many things in life.  Thinking through each of these steps can help formulate a plan to achieve what you set out to do.  

Bottom-line, it is important to have a good reason or “why”, think through exactly how you will accomplish your goals and then map out your plan to get there.  Employing a friend or family member to help you and hold you accountable will help too.

Here’s to a happy and healthy new year!

Dietitian Laura AliLaura Ali, MS, RDN, LDN is a food and nutrition communications professional, recipe developer and brand ambassador for the StarKist Co and owner of Laura M. Ali, LLC -a Food and Nutrition Consulting company. She loves learning about food, exploring how food has shaped our culture, and teaching people how to enjoy the food they eat.  You can follow her on Instagram and Twitter @LauraAli_RD or her website: www.lauramali.com