Many people set goals, especially at the start of a new year. Think about the goals you set for yourself in January. Have you accomplished what you set out to do? Do you remember what they were?
Unfortunately, the majority of people abandon the goals within 30 days.
Creating new habits requires an intention to do the work AND taking consistent action. Many times there is a failure to set up systems and structure that keep your goals front of mind.
Wishing and hoping that things will be different doesn’t make things happen. Change results when things are done differently. And, it takes time to develop a new habit. Some experts say anywhere from 21 days to 6 weeks.
Planning increases the likelihood of success. Investing the time up front to consider what is needed to make meaningful changes in your life will pay off, delivering the results you desire.
To increase your odds of success, set SMART-R goals:
Specific: Your goal needs to be clear, focused and concise. “I want to eat better” is a vague goal. “I will eat breakfast every day” is a specific goal. Consider the following questions to develop your goals:
- What do you want to accomplish?
- Why do you want to do this?
- What do you need to support you in meeting your goal?
- How will achieving this goal make a difference in your life?
Measurable: When your goal has metrics that you can chart, you are better able to track your progress along the way.
Action-oriented: Your goal needs to be focused on the results you want to achieve.
Realistic: Make sure that your goal is within reach. Many failed attempts with accomplishing goals involves things that are beyond your control. Set a goal that is within your control, in other words, change on your part can bring about results and is not dependent on someone else changing their behavior.
Timely: decide upon a timeline for meeting your goal. If you don’t currently exercise, saying you will exercise for 20 minutes per day, 4 days a week for 4 weeks may sound more doable than promising to do this new behavior forever.
Reward: incentives are great motivators for taking action. Think about how you will reward yourself when you reach your goal. Make it something that is meaningful to you (Note: I don’t suggest you use food as a reward).
Tips for increasing success:
- Get clear. Focus on one or two goals at a time. It takes time to change habits. Taking on too much at one time can lead to overwhelm. You can add more goals as you accomplish the initial ones.
- Commit to a tracking system. Decide how you will track your progress. Tracking is a valuable activity to provide you real-time information on what’s working well and what’s getting in the way of moving you towards achieving your goal.
- Define your goal period. Set a start date and a completion date. Having a deadline tends to move people towards action compared to an open-ended goal period.
- Create gentle reminders. Keep your goals in a place where they are visible. This will remind you of what you are working on regularly. Goals that are out of sight are generally out of mind.
- Be flexible. Life happens. Be prepared to modify goals and timelines if needed depending on the situation. Give yourself permission to “re-decide” if needed.
- Find accountability. Knowing that someone will check in with you keeps you more focused. This may be a trusted friend, coach, or mentor. Determine how often you will check-in and what method you will use (i.e. phone, email).
How are you doing on the goals you set at the beginning of the year? Share your comment below and let us know what helped keep you on track or what got in the way.
Uplifting Women in Medicine