A SMART way to keep your good Intentions

Did you know that setting resolutions for the new year is a custom coming from the Ancient Rome?

The first of January was the scene of a big ceremony in which the high-ranking officers of the army renewed their oath of allegiance and citizens exchanged well-wishing gifts for the new year.

It was also the day of the beginning of the month dedicated to Janus, the god of the new beginnings, the two-faced god with a face turned to the past and the other one turned to the future.

Similarly to Christmas time, our ancestors spent time with their beloved ones during their mid-winter holidays, to start the new year in the best and most prosperous way.

The tradition of good intentions has lasted centuries and, actually, it has become larger, since it is said that almost 2 Americans out of 3 set goals for the new year. However, after just one week, a good quarter of them has already broken their resolutions.

So, how can we succeed?

We must be S.M.A.R.T.!

SMART is an acronym mainly used in the working life but it could also be extremely useful in other situations.

It is an abbreviation designed to set well thought out goals, and then manage to reach them.

What are New Year resolutions other than goals for a change?

How to be SMART:

S –Specific. Set practical goals, rather than abstract concepts. If I want to lose weight, the goal that I should keep in mind is not a generic “losing weight”, but instead “fitting in to those jeans I really like”.

Measurable. It’s important to monitor how we are reaching our goal. This will give us reasons to stick to our goal, and will make it more tangible. If the resolution is to manage to run 20 km, celebrate each small progress, and any additional kilometre will help us to achieve our aim.
It is helpful to split the main goal (20 Km) in a sequence of smaller goals: the first one at 5 Km, the second one at 10 Km, and the third one at 15 Km, etc. This will help us to reach our destination with more energy, especially if we share our satisfaction with our friends and family.

A – Accessible Goals should be reasonable in order to be achievable. To succeed in running a marathon is a realistic goal which will increase our self-esteem; winning the New York City Marathon is instead a goal that will lead to a certain failure.

R – Relevant: is this goal worth the effort needed to reach it? Does it really make a difference for me? Some goals are relevant by definition, for example “to quit smoking” has tangible benefits in improving our health. But for other goals, such as “A rise in salary” at a first glance could look like we’re only interested in earning more money, but actually it depends on our real needs, money on one side and time for our private life on the other side.

T – Time: a goal isn’t SMART if we don’t set a time to reach it. When we decide to give ourselves a deadline, we commit ourselves: “I want to quit smoking” allows us to say ”I will start it tomorrow”, “I want to quit smoking within four months, halving the number of cigarettes I smoke right from the first month” sounds like something we will really do.

It’s now time for to set our resolutions for 2016.

Ours? To be SMART!