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Ask Dr. G
Many of us will be making New Year's Resolutions this month and I want to take some time to discuss setting goals. Every year resolutions are made and forgotten before the month of January has ended, sometimes sooner. Understanding how to set goals may help you stick to your resolutions.
Let’s start with what a resolution is:
res·o·lu·tion /ˌrezəˈlo͞oSH(ə)n/           noun    noun: resolution ; plural noun: resolutions
1)     a firm decision to do or not to do something.
2)     the quality of being determined or resolute.
Many of us make a resolution (or more than one) to make our life better and give the day-to-day “stuff” we do have meaning or purpose. Goal setting is not something to be taken lightly, it is something that can set you up for tremendous success (based on your definition of success) but you need to be smart about it. And by smart I mean SMART. S.M.A.R.T. goals turn life goals into crystal clear pictures that keep you on the right track and provide purpose and meaning, and a sense of fulfillment. In other words S.M.A.R.T. goals are a compass that gives you focus and direction and makes decision making easier. To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
  • Specific (simple, sensible, significant, substantive- to change behavior).
  • Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
  • Achievable (agreed, attainable).
  • Realistic (reasonable, relevant and resourced, results-based).
  • Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
Most importantly these goals must be written, otherwise it’s incredibly easy to get off track. Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals allow you to clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want in life. Write your goals down, review them regularly, otherwise it is easy to get off track.
Let's review each aspect of creating S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions:
Who: Who is involved in this goal?
What: What do I want to accomplish?
Where: Where is this goal to be achieved?
When: When do I want to achieve this goal?
Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?

It's important to have measurable goals, so that you can track your progress and stay motivated.
Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal. A measurable goal should address questions such as:
How much?
How many?
How will I know when it is accomplished?

Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. The achievability of the goal should be stretched to make you feel challenged, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve it. An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How can I accomplish this goal?
How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as financial factors?

This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you, and that it also aligns with other relevant goals.
A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:
Is the goal realistic and within reach?
Is this the right time?
Am I the right person to reach this goal?

Time bound
Every goal needs a target date, so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
Does my goal have a deadline?
By when do you want to achieve your goal?
An example of a S.M.A.R.T. goal would be:
On January 1, I will obtain a gym membership at my local community center. In order to be healthier, I will work out four days a week. Every week, I will aim to lose one pound of body fat.

Good Luck setting and accomplishing your S.M.A.R.T. goals.
Wishing you the best for a Happy and a Healthy new Year.
Dr G
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