Health & Medicine

Have you made resolutions? It’s best to tackle one goal at a time

Krista Moe
Krista Moe

Want to give yourself a better chance of success with your New Year’s resolutions this year?

In 1981, George T. Doran introduced a way to get SMART about setting goals that improves their chances of being successful.

Doran’s method is to break down the long-term goal (e.g., lose 50 pounds this year) into small steps (lose 5 pounds in two weeks) and complete the SMART steps over and over until the larger goal is reached.

Also, tackle one long-term goal at a time. Setting too many goals at once will quickly lead to defeat of all of them.

Fill out your own SMART goal for 2017 using Doran’s original criteria:

Specific: Target a specific area for improvement. For example, your starting weight is 196 pounds, so your goal weight within two weeks will be 191 pounds.

Measurable: Quantify, or at least suggest, an indicator of progress. For example, lose 5 pounds.

Assignable: Specify who will do it. For this example, you would be losing the weight.

Realistic: State what results can be realistically achieved given available resources. For example, you could choose to eat 1,500 calories per day and record everything you eat in a food journal.

Time-related: Specify when the result can be achieved: For example, two weeks.

It will help to understand your motivational needs. The two main types of motivation are intrinsic motivation (“from within”) and extrinsic motivation (driven by a reward provided upon completion of the goal).

If you are motivated to reach your goal according to a deep value you have (health, living longer, being a role model to others), you are intrinsically motivated. Cultivating intrinsic motivation is done by having a healthy mindset: believing you are capable, seeing the actions as your choice, having an optimistic attitude and envisioning yourself being successful.

If you are motivated by an external reward (after losing 5 pounds, you will go on a day trip, get a new shirt or obtain some other prize), you are extrinsically motivated.

If the goal is not reached in the given time frame, the goal needs to be reevaluated. Does the goal need to be divided into even smaller steps? What is motivating you to achieve this goal at this point in your life?

Set your SMART mini-goals, clarify your motivation and work towards improving the quality of your life this year.

Dr. Krista Moe is a licensed psychologist with Baptist Health Psychiatric Specialists.