Happy New Year!

I write new years resolutions every year. And being the social scientist, I evaluate them the following year according to predetermined criterion. Nerd alert!

One of my friends who I’d describe as a “gym rat” (someone who religiously works out 5 days a week), muttered to me the other day that she hates January because the gym gets crowded. But then, with a smirk, she said, “Those fools will be gone by February.” And she’s right. So if you are one of the zillion people who make resolutions that fade away into the misty champagne memory from New Years’ Eve, try this technique this year:

SMAC!

No, that’s not a typo. I once went to a conference about leadership and they suggested S.M.A.C.ing your goals:

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Communicable

!

I added the ! just for fun.

So let’s take a common goal for the new year that I’ve heard over and over again: “This year, I’m going to get fit!” or, “This year, I’m going to lose weight!” Good goal. The link between exercise and mental health is undeniable. How many of you come home from the gym or a workout class and say, “Wow, I wish I hadn’t done that” (barring you didn’t trip and fall and break your leg in a freak hip hop aerobics class)? So here’s a sample way to craft your New Years Resolution for success:

Specific: Instead of “I will work out more” choose specific behaviors such as “I will go to one aerobics class per week and walk the dog 30 minute a night.”

Measurable: Ask yourself, “How will I know that I am doing what I said I would?” You should be able to count, see, and measure your goal. So instead of “I will feel better about my health” maybe something like, “I will reduce my body fat percentage by 1%” or “I will put stars on my calendar for every time I go to the gym.”

Attainable: Here’s a big pitfall. I’m all for high expectations, but your goal should be reasonable too. If you haven’t seen the inside of a gym since Jazzercise was being offered, then it may be too much to say you’ll go every day. You can always set your goal lower and then be proud of yourself when you exceed it.

Communicable: The surest way to know if your goal is specific, measurable, and attainable is to try to explain it to someone else and have them ask questions about how you will go about you goal. So if your goal is to walk the dog 30 minutes per day for your exercise, someone might ask, “What about when it’s raining?” or other probing “pitfall” questions. Also, use this opportunity to build in a reward for yourself, even if it is just a little star on your calendar. That way, you can also measure your progress.

So go forth, SMAC your goal, and good luck!

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