A new year, a new you

Published 5:29 pm Friday, January 27, 2017

It’s a new year and during this time of year, many of us have new goals and resolutions for the next 365 days. Many of us like to set some kind of goal starting in January, whether it is getting more physically active, saving money or putting down cigarettes. Reaching our goals can be difficult and often frustrating at times. However, through the use S.M.A.R.T. goals, your New Year’s resolution can without doubt be achieved.

S.M.A.R.T. stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-Oriented. S.M.A.R.T. goals are valuable for self-improvement and motivation. They are necessary in order for us to see a crystal clear picture of what we are trying to work hard for.


Having specific goals will provide a degree of clarity to what you are trying to accomplish. This will answer the what, when, how and with whom questions. “What” is what exactly you are trying to accomplish. “When” is your specific time frame: by what date do you want to accomplish this goal. “How” is what you will do to meet your goal. “With whom” applies when you are trying to reach a goal with someone else. An example would be, “By Oct. 31, 2017, I will increase my daily physical activity to 60 minutes a day, which will help lower my blood pressure.”


To make a goal measurable, set objectives that allow you to know if you are making progress towards achieving your goal. When determining if a goal is measurable, you must ask what tools you will use to measure your progress. If your goal is to quit smoking cigarettes, first determine how many you currently smoke throughout the day. Next, determine how many you would like to cut back each week in order to put them down completely by the end of your specified time-frame. What is being measured is the amount of cigarettes you are smoking. If you know this is a task that will take a few months to complete, these milestones will assist in determining if your goal is being met.


You may be thinking “How can I accomplish this goal?” or “Is it even possible to achieve this goal?” For example, trying to lose 50 pounds in one month may be out of reach for most and will likely not be achieved. It would be a big risk to your health and overall well-being. Making an achievable goal to lose 1-2 pounds per week would be the healthy way to go. Try to set yourself up for success by making a goal that you can accomplish now or within the foreseeable future. Remember to start small and avoid trying to accomplish it all at one time.


Let’s say you are trying to quit smoking: if you smoke two packs a day, try cutting back to one pack for now, instead of quitting cold turkey. If you try to accomplish your goals all at once, you have a higher likelihood of failing before you even start. What may seem like a mountain ahead could become a small bump in the road as long as you set realistic goals.


A goal should be created with a time frame in mind. Think of time-oriented as being tied to a deadline. If you don’t set a realistic time frame, there is a good chance you won’t make any progress at all. For example, if you are trying to save $1,000 this year, set an achievable, time-oriented goal. If you have wanted to save that amount for years, it may not be realistic to save $1,000 in one month. However, budget your time with a sense of urgency so that you have a deadline to accomplish your goal.

All things considered, accomplishing your goals can seem difficult at first. Using S.M.A.R.T. goals can help relieve the burden and stress of goals that may take a long time to complete. When using S.M.A.R.T. goals, success will only be achieved with a positive attitude. If you ever feel like quitting, remember why you started in the first place. No matter how long it takes, remember S.M.A.R.T. goals are a marathon, not a sprint. Start small and don’t try to accomplish everything at once.


JaNell Lewis, MPH, human services planner III, preparedness coordinator of Beaufort County Health Department, can be reached by calling 252-940-5090.