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SMART Goals for the New Year

Jan 07, 2014

Happy New Year! Can you believe it is already 2014? It seems like only a short time ago everyone was stressing over the Y2K situation.  I remember spending the night at the hospital, where I normally worked day shift, just in case the electricity went off and we had to manually ventilate patients or make sure the medication pumps continued working properly.  Thank goodness all went smoothly. 

The New Year is the time we are expected to make resolutions and get a fresh start. You all know the routine – lose weight, quit smoking, exercise more, find a new job, keep in touch with friends and family, and look for love. Studies show that most of these resolutions will last 7 to 10 days. If we have not lost those 10 lbs by the end of January, we give up in despair. The new exercise machine ends up becoming a handy spot to hang those clothes that still do not fit.  

In the same way that we try to help our patients make lasting lifestyle changes, we need to be SMART about our goals for the year. I am sure you are all familiar with SMART goals, but let’s do a quick refresher.

Specific: State what it is you plan to do such as switching from taking the elevator to walking the stairs, switching from fast food to preparing more meals or buying calorie-controlled, pre-made meals (also known as TV dinners). 

To set a specific goal, you must answer the six “W” questions: who, what, where, when, which, and why.

Measureable: Think about how you will know when you have accomplished your goal. So for example, how many fewer fast food meals have you eaten? How many days have you opted for the stairs instead of the elevator?

Measuring your progress helps you stay on track, reach your target dates, and motivate you to continue when you are successful.

Attainable: Be sure it is a goal you can achieve. It is very depressing to set goals that you will never be able to attain.  

Realistic:  This means you are willing and able to work toward your goal. The goal is something that you know you can accomplish.  We all know how difficult it would be to lose 15 lbs in 1 month or be able to run a marathon by Super Bowl Sunday, especially if you have not walked more than 5 miles.

Timely:  Set a specific time frame to accomplish your goals.  With no time frame, there’s no sense of urgency. If you want to lose 10 lbs, when do you want to lose it by? “Someday” just won’t work.

Best of luck and Happy New Year!  I look forward to all we can accomplish this year!

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