Setting goals for 2013
Many people begin the new year with a New Year's resolution — a commitment to a personal goal, project or reforming a habit. As the years go by, we can continue to take on the same goals year after year. “This will be the year I stick to my exercise program” or “This year I will follow a budget.” Why are some individuals successful, while others continue to struggle with their goals?
Planning can be the key. In my Introduction to Psychology classes, the first project students are required to complete involves goal-setting and self-monitoring of a chosen behavior. I often refer to this project as similar to making a New Year's resolution — but we follow specific steps to help increase success. Begin by setting S.M.A.R.T. goals (specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic and timely).
Specific goals state exactly what you want to accomplish (instead of — I want to save money — be specific in the amount).
Measurable goals state what and when — I will lose at least two pounds per week.
Action — Oriented goals tell how you will achieve your goal — I will pack a lunch each day and not buy fast food to save money.
Realistic goals are attainable (take into consideration any constraints you may have in your work schedule or family situation).
Timely — Allow reasonable time to maintain focus and motivation — you should review your goals and progress to evaluate changes which might be needed.
Recording progress is another component which must be considered. After taking the time to set SMART goals, decide on the best way to keep track of your progress. This can be on a calendar, a spreadsheet or in some kind of personal diary. Keeping track of your motivation levels (when it is harder to stick to the goal) and incorporating the help of others are helpful to many. If you are reducing your food intake, you can get helpful support from others by choosing people who you know will help you stick to your goals.
In the new year, try to choose at least one behavior you want to change. It may be getting more sleep or something you have always wanted to do for yourself. Make this the year that you succeed in your goals with a little planning.
For those who have always been successful in meeting goals, try making more than one goal for 2013. How about five new things to improve — or how about 13. If you are really ambitious, you can take the challenge of 10 lists of 10. This is choosing 10 items, and each has a list of 10 things (list of 10 books to read, 10 places to visit, etc.)
Whatever your goals are for this new year, learn from the process and make this year the best yet!
Wanda Reid is an associate faculty at Arizona Western College and STEM adviser for Pipeline Grant awarded to AWC in 2011. She can be reached at email@example.com.