It’s 2018 and we are about to embark on the most exciting year yet. How do I know this? I don’t, but I am making it my New Years resolution to be more positive this year. While we are on the subject, what is YOUR New Years resolution? Is it to lose weight? To give up smoking? To go to the gym? Those resolutions are among the most popular given when people asked.
It is also a very well-known idea that resolutions don’t last. By February, the gyms are back to being empty, McDonalds are packed, and I know first hand just how tough it is to give up nicotine. Maybe the problem is that our resolutions are not specific enough. Perhaps they are not realistic, or even attainable. We may not even know if we’ve achieved the goal because we have not set a timetable to it. In other words, our resolutions are not SMART goals.
Let’s take a simple, yet popular resolution and turn it into a SMART goal.
My New Years resolution is to lose weight. During 2017, I lost a total of 80 pounds, and I’d like to be at my goal weight this year.
First, I need to be specific. How much weight do you want to lose? For me, I want to lose 50 pounds. That’s pretty specific. It is also measurable. I will know when I have accomplished my goal. I will reach my goal when I weigh 275 pounds.
The next question is: is the goal achievable? Can I lose 50 pounds? That depends on how much time I have. If I want to lose 50 pounds by January 31, 2018, that goal, although attainable, may not be very realistic. In the past, I lost 54 pounds in 21 days, but I had to fast in order to do it. On the other hand, if I say ‘by December 31, 2018,’ that puts me at roughly one pound a week. That is definitely attainable. In fact, I could do it standing on one leg. I would not be pushing myself to achieve a goal. In order to make a goal attainable and realistic while still providing motivation, the goal must be time-bound.
You must set a time for your goal. Without an end date, you are perpetually trying to achieve your goal and you never end. This is the part where people often go off the rails. If you have set a weight-loss goal but have not made it time-bound, there are a plethora of excuses you can use to derail yourself. My timetable must motivate me to work hard, but it must give me enough time to realistically attain it. With that said, I know I could lose 20 pounds a month. I think I could realistically reach my 50 pound mark by March 31, 2018.
Excellent. I have the basic elements of a SMART goal:
I will lose 50 pounds by March 31.
This SMART goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time bound. But how will it be accomplished? Do I expect someone to motivate me into doing it? Will I take responsibility for it and motivate myself? Will I employ the genie that lives in the magic lamp? What can I do, or what MUST I do in order to achieve this goal? Will I commit to a gym? Will I hire a personal trainer? A certified nutritionist? Sadly, I can’t afford any of these.
There are two ways I can meet my weight loss goal: diet and exercise.
I follow a two-pronged diet. I eat low-carb and I skip some meals. I plan to skip 12 meals a week. Five of the remaining nine meals that week will be low carb, and four meals will be open but calorically restricted.
I will also need to exercise. For Christmas, I received a FitBit. I am excited to see how many steps I can take just walking around in my classroom. In addition, the middle school for which I teach is beginning a Fitness Club. I’m excited to help facilitate that. I think I can accomplish the goal of hitting 10000 steps 6 days a week. I don’t know my limits since I have not really exercised regularly before. I may have to increase this number if I realize that 10,000 steps is too easy or too difficult. I have a feeling it will be too easy.
Now, I have the structure for my goal and the means to achieve it. It is time to decide which verbs I am going to use. Wording is everything. How something is worded can mean the difference between guilty and innocent. Lives hang in the balance over simple words like “can” and “should” and “might.” I want to make a strong statement. I will accomplish this goal. I have no doubt. So, I’m going to avoid using “maybe” and “try.”
Every week, I will fast 12 meals, eat 5 keto meals and 4 CR meals and will walk 10,000 steps six days a week to lose 50 pounds by March 31, 2018.
This goal is specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and time-bound. It also provides the means to the end. You can write other longer goals or shorter goals for yourself. See if you can create a different SMART goal every day. Let’s make 2018 the most productive year ever.
If I can convince my students that they have the power to set a goal and attain it, it may help motivate them in other areas. This will be my first lesson when I get back to school. The following day, we will write out our SMART goals using fancy/shmancy paper and put them on display in the hall. They can be reminded everyday that they have a personal SMART goal they are working for. The whole project should take about two days and is a nice gentle way to bring the kids (and myself) back into teaching…er…learning mode.
Luckily, this quarter is narratives, and is my favorite genre to teach. I’m looking forward to making them cry both in the audience and as speakers for their speeches. It’s always fun but sometimes heartbreaking to watch them talk about their own lives.