How SMART are you?

Society & Culture | By Nonsikelelo Muzvidzwa, Writer | 05 April 2013

It's that time of the year again when we come up with New Year's resolutions that we never seem able to keep. Last year I asked myself why this was the case.  I came across a book about setting goals and decided to investigate. I soon realised that goals are different from resolutions. Firstly goals must be S.M.A.R.T. i.e. Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time based. I immediately realised that unlike a resolution a goal requires effort. Resolutions are more like a wish list of things we would like to have or do or stop doing.  It is easy enough to set down a wish list (or in some cases a guilt list of all the things in our lives we feel we should change for one reason or another usually based on other people's perception of us and our behavior.)

Resolutions can be vague and drawing them up is relatively easy. Goals require some serious thinking. Obviously you can start with your resolutions as a source of inspiration. With goals you can see straight away if this is something you are willing to make the effort to achieve. For example my resolution for several years was “Exercise more.”  This is how it became a goal in 2011.

Specific. I decided to exercise 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes for the whole year.

Measurable. Pretty easy to tell how many times a week I had to exercise and for how long.

Attainable. This to me seemed attainable, either in the form of aerobics or jogging. I finally decided on jogging.

Relevant. This meant my goal had to be relevant to me and my life. I take ownership of this as being something I want to do for myself and my well being.

Time based. Knowing that this is something I want to do for the whole year. Obviously at the end of the year when I set my goals for the next year I can decide if I want to continue exercising 3 times a week for at least 30 minutes or not.