Get SMART for 2013

Posted on 01 January 2013 by Jimmy Yan (Meds 2015)

Happy New Year’s everyone, welcome to 2013! Now one of the more popular customs around this time of year (aside from watching World Junior’s Hockey and engaging in the personal rituals of overcoming a hangover) is the setting of New Year Resolutions. After all, it’s fitting: setting new marks for the next 365 days, creating a new you for a the new year,  having a natural turning of the pages in time, whatever.

Unfortunately, maaaany of these resolutions don’t last long, doomed to fizzle out like flat soda on a warm day. It’s a phenomenon that is often joked about. But what can be done about it?

Well, one thing is that these resolutions aren’t SMART enough.

No, no, no, I’m not trying to say that the people who are making these resolutions are idiots.  But goal setting has a science behind it, which has been distilled down to a handy-dandy acronym because, hey, it’s not geared for med school if it doesn’t come down to an acronym.

So goals (or resolutions) should be SMART, which stand for:

Specific

Measurable

Achievable

Relevant

Time-specific

What this is trying to get is that goals need to be clear and unambiguous, without being vague (Specific). This can usually be answered by addressing the What, Why, Who, and Which of the goal. Being able to make the goal measurable allows one to keep track of any progress and stay on course. Often it means setting some sort of target deadline (but more on that later); without being measurable it is difficult to know if one is actually reaching the point of completing the goal. That said, the goal has to be Achievable, in the sense that it is realistic and attainable. It can be a difficult goal or a long-term one; however, it should be within reach. Related is the term relevant, which focuses  on the importance of choosing goals/resolutions that are worthwhile. If the goal is not relevant, there’s the good chance that the resolver will not muster the motivation to follow through with it. Finally, as I alluded to earlier, resolutions need to be Time-specific: there should be some form of deadline or target date. This gives resolutions structure, which frames them in a way that one can approach it in an organized manner.

So it’s pretty easy to see how the typical, “I want to lose weight” New Year’s resolution really falls flat on its face when examined through this lens. While well-intended and certainly relevant, it’s vague, without structure, or ways to measure it. As a result there’s the usual 2 week rush to the local gym (or student rec centre) that creates a traffic jam for all the regulars *cough cough*.

Well, one final point to add is the importance to tell others what you’re planning to do or change or accomplish. You can get tons of support, as well as people to keep you accountable, perhaps from company that will join in on your ambitions or share plans with you as well.

That’s all from me for now, enjoy the rest of your break, but feel free to share with us any New Year resolutions below.

Onward to 2013!

 

 

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