Okay, let’s have a moment of honesty. For the past few years, I have had a similar New Year’s resolution every January. It has been identical because my plans to create this new change and habit in my life has seemed to fail. Some resolutions have lasted longer than others, but most often not permanently.
Let me paint you a picture of what this cycle looks like. The new year begins, and I feel motivated and ready to make some changes. I go hard! I start working out daily, I change some eating habits, and then…. I start slacking off. The motivation ends and I am back to habits that make me feel horrible.
So, I have been thinking, what am I doing wrong? Why can't I seem to stick to my goals and achieve them? Why does it feel like I'm working so hard but not getting anywhere? I’ll let you into a little secret, it is all about how you plan for your goals. You can have all the motivation in the world, but if your goals are unrealistic, not specific enough, unable to be measured... well then, there’s a high likelihood that these goals will fall off and disappear.
This year, I want you to succeed. I want to encourage you to try something different and take notice of whether the outcome changes. After all, it is a new year with plenty of new opportunities. The truth is, we can make changes at any point and if the new year happens to make you feel inspired, well then let's do it!
Allow me to introduce you to SMART goals.
SMART is the acronym for a tool to help in guiding your goal setting.
Specific- Make sure your goal is clear and lists what needs to be accomplished
Measurable- It is important that you can track your progress (this will help with motivation)
Achievable- For it to be successful, your goal must be realistic and possible to attain
Relevant- It is best if your goal aligns with your values and is meaningful to you
Time-bound- The plan is to achieve your goal, so set a deadline to keep yourself accountable
Here is an example of two goals. Can you guess which one is the SMART goal?
Example 1: I want to go back to school next year and get a degree.
Example 2: I will start community college as a full-time student by enrolling in four general education classes for the Spring 2023 semester at Los Angeles Community College.
If you guessed the second one, good catch!
Now that you have a SMART goal, you can break down the steps to achieve it.
Before you head out to start creating your own goals for 2023, I want to remind you that "failure" is part of the process. Although this is a practical strategy, I also want to acknowledge that it might not be as black and white when barriers are present. Give yourself grace and know that any progress is a step in the right direction.
I hope this year brings you all the growth and happiness you wish for!
- Dilia Morales Monroy, MA, AMFT, APCC