Planning for the New Year: The S.M.A.R.T. Method

Planning for the New Year: The S.M.A.R.T. Method

Dr. Rachel Goldman
10 min read

With the New Year here you may be thinking about the past year, thinking of what you have accomplished, and thinking of what you want to accomplish this year.

Regardless of it being a new year or not, it is always good to think ahead, think about where you are at the present time, and where you want to be in the future. It is always good to have goals, but several things are important to keep in mind when setting goals because you don’t want to end up like the majority of people who make New Year’s resolutions each year and not adhere to them.

The first thing to remember is to always PLAN and set S.M.A.R.T goals. Your goals need to be:

 Specific. For example, instead of saying “I will run more this week”, say “I will run 4 days this week.”

 Measurable. Goals need to be what you WILL do. Additionally, the goal needs to be able to be achieved.

 Action-oriented and Achievable. Instead of saying what you won’t do, say what you WILL do. Additionally, the goal needs to be able to be achieved.

• Realistic. Is your goal realistic? Are you willing AND able to do it? For example, instead of “I will never eat fried foods,” say “I will only eat fried foods one time this week.” Also, is your goal realistic to achieve at this time? Maybe you can’t go to the gym 5 days this week because of other commitments, so maybe your goal for this week is 3 days.

• Timely. A goal needs a time frame. If you want to run a marathon, when do you want to run it? Someday won’t work and someday may never come.

Planning is important in order to achieve your goals. For example, if you say “I will run 4 days this week,” and you don’t plan, then Monday comes and goes, Tuesday you don’t feel like running…and before you know it there aren’t even 4 days of the week left. I always recommend picking one day per week, maybe Sunday night, look at your calendar, set your goals, and PLAN for that week. Know that your plan for this week may be different than next week.

Weekly goals or short term goals are very important. Long term goals are great to have, but they can be overwhelming and when things are scary they tend to not get accomplished. Therefore, if you have never run more than a 5K and your long term goal is to run a marathon, then break down that goal. Start with smaller, more realistic, more easily attainable goals. Once you have accomplished a short term goal, you have a sense of accomplishment and have the motivation to continue. If you only set a long term goal, for example, of running a marathon and that takes months of training, then you don’t feel like you have accomplished anything for months and that can be very discouraging.

Now, remember life happens and sometimes your plan may not work.

Maybe you got stuck at work and couldn’t leave early enough to get your run in, or maybe you had plans to run outside, but now you can’t due to horrible weather, or maybe you had plans to run with a friend and they canceled on you. It happens- life happens. So, you need to be able to be flexible, think outside the box, and come up with a new plan at times in order to accomplish your goals.

You could easily give up and say something to the extent of “it’s raining and cold”, “I can’t run by myself”, or “tomorrow is another day”, but instead re-examine your goals and find another option. It’s NOT what you CAN NOT do, but rather what you CAN DO. Sometimes things get in the way, sometimes there are roadblocks, but that is not an excuse to not accomplish your goals. Next time you find yourself at a roadblock ask yourself what you CAN do….plan, be flexible, tweak your plan, and you WILL accomplish your goal!

So, don’t wait until next December 31st to set one unrealistic goal that you have probably tried to accomplish for years. Also, don’t wait until Monday because Monday comes and goes. Instead, think about what you CAN do this week. Think about what you CAN do today.

Set a SMART goal for yourself that you can be happy about accomplishing by next week and you will be one step closer to accomplishing that long term goal. Today CAN be the first day of the rest of your healthy and new life—just plan for it! Have questions? Need help setting SMART goals? Message me or email me. I am here to help and to cheer you on along the way. To a healthy and happy life!

Dr. Rachel Goldman is a licensed psychologist in NYC and a clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine. She specializes in health behavior change, including obesity, weight management, and stress management to help people live healthy and happy lives. FB/IG: @drrachelnyc Twitter: @AskDr_Rachel