The beginning of a New Year marks a time of thinking about how the past year went and thinking about what the New Year holds. Many people will develop resolutions or goals to strive towards in the year ahead . . . lose some weight, save money, stop nail biting, be nicer to a family member, be happier. Well-intentioned people set these goals and often find by the end of the year (or even by the end of January!), that little or no progress has been made. How come? These goals are too big and too vague. So what’s the best way to see results? Make your goal specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. Or, in other words, SMART. SMART goal setting is easy if you know how to do it.
For example, let’s say I want to be nicer to my mother. How am I going to do this? What does being nice to my mother look like? How am I going to know when I have achieved this goal? Can this goal really be reached? Is the goal a realistic one: can I really be nice to my mother? How long will it take to achieve it?
I decide that being nice to my mother will look like me giving her a compliment every time I speak with her for one month. One compliment seems reasonable. However, since this is something new I may not remember to do it, especially when I’m having a bad day. So I will place post-it notes around my home and reminders in my calendar. I will track my progress in my journal and at the end of the month see how I did. Giving my mother compliments will make her feel good and I will feel good for making her feel good. Hopefully by the end of the month this new behaviour will become natural and I won’t have to rely on the reminders anymore. And maybe I will like being nice to my mother so much that I set another goal around being nice to her.
For a new mom, a SMART goal for the next week might be to take one 15-minute break a day from being with your kids and have a cup of tea (rather, for example, setting a goal to go out for a night on the town with your girlfriends).
Be kind to yourselves,