Today’s post comes from Megan Lamb and Kate Hill. Megan and Kate are Ph.D. Students in the Psychology Department at Carleton University. Megan is also the current Social Events Coordinator of the OC-SNP National Executive.
“This year I will exercise every day.”
As 2019 begins, we are bombarded by New Year’s resolutions and the supposed opportunity to better ourselves. Diet and fitness companies are consistently telling us how easy it is to lose weight or eat “properly” and family and friends are curious to know how we plan to improve our lives now that the New Year has started. This can create a challenging situation and lead to a lot of disappointment.
Goals are important and can be beneficial to our health and happiness. However, the types of goals that we set for the New Year can be harmful to our motivation, to our psyche, and to our bodies. Many are too vague or unrealistic and solely focused on our appearance or weight. For example, many people use January to “cleanse” or diet. Commonly, these diets are fad diets that are, by their nature, short term and unachievable. Another popular resolution is to eliminate something from your life, such as alcohol, clutter, or an undesirable habit. Although reducing negative behaviours or decluttering may be important, it might be too much to ask that simply the arrival of a new year will result in such drastic change.
This January let’s do things differently. Let’s not focus on those unattainable goals that leave us feeling disappointed. Rather, let’s be kind to ourselves and set goals that give us the opportunity to succeed.
This year, we encourage you to make SMART resolutions. This acronym came from the Journal of Management Review in 1981 and provides a guide for effective goal setting. Please note that this acronym has evolved over time so the key words may vary.
SMART goals are:
How to make SMART resolutions:
Specific: pick one small thing that you want to change/modify/begin.
Measurable: make sure you have a way to record or quantify this resolution.
Achievable: make your resolution possible for you, your environment, and ability.
Relevant: make a resolution that fits within your life. Make sure you have the time and resources to make it possible
Time-bound: put a time-limit on your resolution and then reassess it. This will allow you to modify it if it is or isn’t working for you.
To put this into practice, let’s modify the resolution from the beginning of this blog post:
“I will exercise more this year.”
- Let’s be specific – the activity I want to engage in is running.
- Make it measurable – I will write “running” in my schedule for the specific dates and times that I can run.
- Make it achievable – since I already run a bit, I think a goal of running 30 minutes at a time makes sense.
- Relevance – I am rather busy so I think completing a 30-minute run, two days a week seems to be the most plausible with my schedule and the weather.
- Time-bound – I will revaluate this goal in three months to see if I need to increase or decrease the amount of time running or the frequency of runs to make sure my resolution remains possible and effective.
“I will run for 30 minutes two times a week for the next three months.”
We hope that this blog post will help you make positive and possible resolutions for yourself. And, if your resolutions are not positively influencing you or your behaviour then try re-evaluating and incorporating the SMART goals strategy. Ultimately, this year, we urge you to give your mind and body a break and incorporate some self-love and self-care.
Doran, G. T. (1981). There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives. Management Review, 70, 35.