January is right around the corner and it is the perfect time to start setting goals for the upcoming year. January gives us that sense of “newness” and a fresh start. Many people sign up for the gym or start making other changes. It is the perfect time to come to therapy as well! But before that, here are some tips to create goals for the new year.
Prior to writing about the SMART approach to setting goals, I want you to think about your intention for the new year. It could be the year that you take care of your physical health or focus on your career. You could also intent to build on relationships, spiritual matters or establish financial goals. So first step: start with your intention for this year. What do you want to focus on in the next 12 months?
Once you establish your intention for the New Year. Follow these simple steps to create attainable goals. We use the SMART approach, which stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.
- SPECIFIC: Narrow down your goal to something more specific. For example, instead of saying “I want to be fit”, start with “I want to lose weight” as a more specific definition of what being fit means to you.
- MEASURABLE: Define what measure you will use to ensure that your specific goal is making progress. For example, now your goal will translate from “I want to lose weight” to “I want to lose 20 pounds”.
- ATTAINABLE: This is the part where you evaluate your goal. Is 20 pounds reasonable for you? Is it challenging enough that will keep you motivated when motivation is lost? If it is attainable, then move to the next step. If it is not, modify. Maybe losing 20 pounds is not attainable for you so you can modify it to say “I want to lose 10 pounds”.
- RELEVANT: Ask yourself: does this goal align with my values. Maybe you want to lose 20 puns because someone else is imposing that on you rather than it being something that you value for yourself. We always want to be authentic with ourselves before pleasing others.
- TIME-BOUND: Every good goal has a target date. The last question to ask yourself is : by when do I want to accomplish this goal? Establishing a deadline gives us a reasonable time and sense of urgency when accomplishing our goals. Ensure that the deadline you are setting is attainable. For example, it is not reasonable to say “I want to lose 20 pounds by January 31st” if you are starting to eat better and exercise on January 1st; at least it’s not healthy. A more attainable date could be “I want to lose 20 pounds by December 31st”.
Once you establish a deadline, your goal is set! I encourage you to practice goal setting in different domains of your life, such as, social life, finances, career, spiritual life and physical health.
Let us know if this helped! Happy New Year.