Are you one of the millions of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions, or have you sworn them off since they never seem to stick?
Studies show that 45% of Americans make at least one resolution every year, yet only 8% of these people are actually successful in meeting their goal. By setting a specific goal rather than making a generic resolution, you will be 10 times more likely to achieve your goal in 2015.
How to start? Get SMART! Use the SMART acronym to help set achievable goals:
- Specific – Rather than deciding to “eat better” this year, figure out what that means to you and decide what elements you would like to change to improve your diet. Are you eating out too often at lunchtime? Your goal could be to begin bringing lunch to work.
- Measurable – Make sure you’re changing something that is measurable so that you can monitor your progress. If your goal is to bring lunch to work more often, you are able to track how many days you achieve this.
- Attainable – Don’t set goals that are too difficult; you want to succeed! If you eat out at lunchtime every single day now, deciding to never eat out at a restaurant in 2015 may be out of reach initially. Bringing lunch to work three days a week would be a great start. Set goals that are challenging but still possible.
- Realistic – Consider the time and resources needed to achieve your goal. Will you pack a lunch the night before so your mornings aren’t too rushed? Will you prepare a meal from scratch or bring a low-fat frozen entrée? Think about what it will take to reach your goal so you’re prepared to succeed.
- Timely – Set a timeline for reaching your goal. Will you bring lunch to work at least three days a week during January? That’s a very SMART goal! At the end of the month, evaluate your progress and either continue or set a new goal. Think of this as an ongoing journey to good health rather than a one-time event!
As the mother to a toddler and a 6-month-old, I’m a bit preoccupied with sleep these days. My SMART goal is to be in bed by 9pm at least 4 days a week during January. By getting more sleep, I will be more productive at work, make better food choices, and have more energy to exercise.
Here’s to a healthy and well-rested 2015!
Tracy Severson, RD, LD, is the dietitian for the Center for Preventive Cardiology at the Knight Cardiovascular Institute. She specializes in nutrition counseling for cardiovascular health and weight management.