Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Get S.M.A.R.T. !

I am a fan of so-called "New Year's Resolutions". I try to frame them as 'S.M.A.R.T.' goals. I'm usually not a fan of superficial jargon, but in the case of S.M.A.R.T. I think it is a very useful mnemonic.

  • S-Specific.  Goals can't be vague (i.e. I will be healthier this year). How will you be healthier? What specific steps will you take to achieve that? I think that breaking down large goals into smaller, tangible ones greatly increases the likelihood of success.
  • M-Measurable. You need to be able to gauge whether or not you achieved the goal. "Losing weight" is a good example. Is losing 0.4 lbs meeting the goal, or is -15 lbs what you really want to achieve?  One of my goals this year will be to run a faster 10k--specifically, a sub-55 minute 10k. I am OK with a 54:59 time--that will be successful to me. I want to be able to answer the question, "Did I achieve this goal" with a confident "Yes" or "No".
  • A-Attainable.  As much as I would like to run a sub-1:30 half marathon, given that I've only run 1 so far at 2:15 and I'm not naturally a fast runner, I would likely fail if I set this as one of my goals. During my lifetime, who knows--it might be achievable. But it is not likely I will be able to accomplish that this year. A sub-2 hour half marathon is still a stretch goal, but it is much more realistic and within my grasp (I think!)
  • R-Realistic. I'm a firm believe in the concept of "the sky's the limit", but I also believe we each have a set of gifts as well as subsequent things we aren't as good at. And we all have constraints due to our everyday responsibilities. It is important to take these into account when setting goals.
  • T-Timely. Fortunately, for New Year's resolutions, the time frame is built-in as a year. It's critical to have and end date of when you expect to achieve your goals, or else it is too easy to put it off or lose sight of the end. If one of your New Year's goals depends on you achieving another one (i.e you might want to run your first 5k before your first 10k), then it might be helpful to establish intermediate goals, such as running the 5k by June. 
I'm still working on coming up with and planning my goals, and I'll share them when I'm done. This is one of my favorite times of the year--it gets me really excited for what the next year has in store.

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