With all that this year has entailed, a clean 2021 calendar feels like a fresh start – an opportunity to jumpstart a healthier body and mind and improve life in the coming year. New Year’s Resolutions are a popular concept that date back to the Roman era, but did you know that less than 10% last beyond February? Without a plan and clear intentions, altering old habits or forming new ones long term can be difficult.
Enter SMART goals. This goal-setting acronym – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound – can provide you with the foundation necessary to make meaningful and lasting change. Best practices for establishing SMART goals include:
- Specific – Be clear and direct when setting your goals. Instead of a vague concept, “I want to read more,” be precise and say, “I want to read 12 books this year.” A clear, highly-specific outcome will help you in identifying the steps necessary to achieve it.
- Measurable – Define how you will track progress. Setting milestones along the way will give you the opportunity to re-evaluate and course-correct as needed. Log the number of minutes you exercise each day or hours of sleep you get each night. Noting your accomplishments – big or small – will help you stay motivated.
- Achievable – Your goal needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. Trying to accomplish the impossible is just that. For example, if your goal is to run a marathon, consider whether you have the time and necessary resources to complete the required training effectively. Attempting a shorter distance race this year instead may be an important building block to keep you running next year and beyond.
- Relevant – Pick a resolution that aligns with your overall ambitions and brings value to your life. For instance, learning a foreign language improves memory, problem solving and critical thinking. Being able use your new language skills regularly at work, as a community volunteer or during an upcoming vacation makes the effort worthwhile. If achieving your goal doesn’t help accomplish your long-term plans, step back and rethink.
- Time-bound – Every goal needs a target date as well as deadlines for each step in the process. This helps provide ongoing determination and prevent everyday tasks from taking priority. Adding a new habit to your life, like meditation, takes practice. Create a schedule to start small, just 5 minutes a day, and then add another minute each week. In just 4 months, you’ll reach the ideal of 20 minutes of meditation a day.
This video ‘Healthy Living: Strategies to Improve Your Overall Wellbeing’ contains additional inspiration and insightful information to help strengthen your physical, mental and emotional health for a new you in the new year.
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