The beginning of the year brings with it new motivation and willpower to finally make this year the year to achieve that one goal that always seems to elude us. The most common one seems to be making one’s health a priority, starting (and keeping to) a gym routine and eating healthy. Others promise to spend less time binge-watching The Office for the seventh time and to instead spend time learning something new or perfecting a favorite hobby.
Whatever your goal, the one thing that everyone needs is an enduring motivation that will carry you through the entire year and not just until January 7.
Our freshmen students at Fairmont Prep take a unique course called Strategies for Success where they learn early on how important it is to have a plan to make sure goals are kept. Course instructor Mr. Massimini helps them get on the right path by teaching them about SMART goals.
SMART goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. By making sure your goals include these characteristics, you’ll have a higher chance of being able to achieve them. For example, maybe your goal for 2018 is to spend more time with your children. That’s a nice goal, but how will you know you met it at the end of the year?
A SMART goal would instead be worded like this: This year, I want to spend at least 30 minutes a day after work playing with my children. That goal is specific (an amount of time per day), measurable (at the end of the day you either spent the full 30 minutes, more, or less time with them), attainable and realistic (if you have an hour of free time a day this goal is attainable and realistic, if you only have 20 minutes of free time a day it would not be), and timely (the goal must be completed every day by the end of the year).
The SMART goal will be easier to keep because there is a set amount of time to spend with the kids, the goal needs to be incorporated daily, and it’s reasonable. Sometimes we set goals for ourselves that are impossible to reach, and then when we start to inevitably struggle to complete them, we burn out and give up on that goal. Baby steps are needed.
For example, if you, like most of the country, would like to improve your health habits, set an achievable goal using the SMART goal system. Instead of saying, “I’m going to get fit this year,” try creating a more specific goal like, “This year, I will go to the gym for an hour, three times a week, and I will only consume dessert two times a week.” This goal will be far easier to measure and follow through with than setting a goal of losing “x” amount of weight because it actually includes the how rather than just the result you want.
Teaching Your Kids to Set Goals
It’s important to teach our kids from an early age that anything is possible if they work hard and set goals for themselves. Use the new year as an excuse to teach them about SMART goals and to practice putting this strategy into action.
Have your children come up with one or two goals they’d like to complete in 2018. Maybe it’s perfecting that difficult move in karate or dance class? Maybe it’s learning a new skill, like how to play piano or guitar? Or maybe it’s finally getting an A in math? Whatever it is, challenge them to reword their goal into a SMART goal.
This year, I’m going to practice my pirouettes every day for 20 minutes until I can do five in a row.
This year, I’m going to learn how to play the piano by watching and trying out tutorials three times a week.
This year, I’m going to get an A in math by studying five days a week for 30 minutes a day.
Ask your children how they will remind themselves to follow through with this goal. Will they put sticky note reminders on their bathroom mirror, set calendar reminders on their phone, or add it to their planners? Keep them accountable and ask them how their goals are coming along throughout the year. This will also help keep you accountable to any goals you’ve made!
Come Monday, January 1, it’ll be a new year. Start it off right by working towards and, finally, accomplishing your goals.