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Friday, February 18, 2011

I swear, this time! This time, for sure!

How many times have you said, "I'm going to eat better," "I'm going to work out," "I'm going to read that book?" For many, the lists go on. So many people live in the world of "later." Guess what, time stands still for no man, and if you live in the world of "Later", there might not be another tomorrow holding the same opportunity. If you're like most people - not having a visible plan of action that you've taken the time to create - then your wishes will forever be an empty statement sent out into the universe. I admit I'm the same way. In 2007(ish), in my College Success class I learned about the acronym S.M.A.R.T. for goal setting. It made soooo much sense and when I do follow the steps it actually helps me accomplish my goals, no matter how big or small, short-term or long-term. Here's how:

S - Specific. When you say something like, "I'm going to eat better," it's really a noncommittal statement. Ask yourself, "How?" How are you going to eat better? Do you need more grains or veges in your diet? Less sugar, perhaps? Saying something like, "I'm going to prepare organic, homemade meals using the Food Pyramid as a guide," is definitely more specific and can help you to better judge whether you're on track with your goal or not.

M - Measurable. So you might prepare one or even two homemade meals, but that's not really helping you achieve your goal. You need to measure flour for a cake, right? So it is with goals. "I'm going to prepare three organic, homemade meals a day using the Food Pyramid as a guide," would be considered measurable.

A - Achievable. Say your goal was to "lose 30 pounds in 30 days through eating organic and exercising," besides not being doctor recommended, it's just not reasonable. "Lose 6-10 pounds in 30 days through eating organic and exercising," is way more reachable!

R - Realistic. Is your goal reasonable? If not, you're setting yourself up for failure. For example, if I worked full time and commuted an hour and a half back and forth, had kids, after school activities, and was taking night classes, I probably would not be able to keep my goal of three organic, from-scratch meals a day. Oh, I know some people can do it, but would I have the motivation at the end of the day? Can pigs fly? So I would probably want to revise my goal to, "I will make one homemade organic dinner for three nights." For me, my schedule, family life, and motivation level - this would be realistic.

T - Time Frame. There needs to be an end in sight! If you don't set some sort of time frame, you will keep procrastinating. Think how inspiring it will be when you see that deadline approaching ever closer as you cross off the days on the calendar. "I'm going to prepare three organic, homemade meals a day using the Food Pyramid as a guide for 4 weeks," and at the end of those four weeks, guess what? I'll have a total sense of accomplishment! I admit, I get a high from completing my tasks.

Setting Mini or Micro goals helps too to achieve the larger goals as well. By writing out a monthly, weekly, or even daily goal objective using the S.M.A.R.T principals, it can help keep you on track. For example, my Mini (or weekly) goal might be to have shopped at my local farmers market for the best quality produce for my three dinners. My Micro (or daily) goal might be to secure one hour to look up
new recipes.

What techniques have you used to accomplish goals? Have you tried using S.M.A.R.T. goals? How did that work for you?

'Til next time, Dear Reader,

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