Considering a change in 2018? Good for you! Let’s throw some fuel on that little fire and set some goals to where you want to go. Every journey, big and small, needs a map, so let’s get S.M.A.R.T.

S is for “Specific.” Where you want to go must be well-defined to know exactly what you are shooting for. “I want to lose weight” is not specific enough. Nail it down with details. Decide how much weight you want/need to lose and write it down. “I want to lose 25 pounds”. Great! Your path is already more defined.

M is for “Measurable.” Being able to measure your progress is essential to staying motivated and knowing if your actions are worth your time, money, and effort. For example, fat-loss progress is easy to measure with a household scale and by monitoring how your clothes are fitting. Measuring also tells you when you have arrived at your goal!

A is for “Actions.” There must be verbs associated with your goal and they should read like the written directions to a map. This plan of actions is what you will do to get you to where you want to go.

Go to the gym to strength train. Keep a food log. Pack my lunch to take to work. Now these are good actions, but they don’t tell us much. Let’s add our “Specific” to these and see if we can get some details.

Go to the gym to strength train with Mandy on Tuesdays and Fridays at 6:30 am. (Better! Adding a friend for accountability and specific times for structure is a winner.) Keep a daily food log on my iPhone using the Lose It app. (Nice. Specified a “daily” log as well as the “how” you are going to measure the calorie intake.) Pack my lunch the night before to take to work. (Again, more specific actions create a more realistic path to success. You can see yourself doing it.)

R is for “Realistic.” Setting realistic goals and actions leads to a higher level of success, and what is realistic varies by the person. Now, I don’t like to squash anyone with huge goals, but I’ve seen too many people get discouraged by setting goals that are unreasonable. My recommendation is to take your big goal and break it into portions you can get your brain and life around. Take your goal to lose 60 pounds of fat and break it into 10 pound increments. Experience a little victory and then accelerate! Nothing is more powerful than momentum stemming from success, and that is what leads to big goals being achieved.

T is for “Time.” You must set a “when” to your goals. “I want to lose 25 pounds by spring break. Goals can float away if a timeline and deadline do not anchor them down. Humans get distracted, discouraged, and bored quickly, so attack your goals with a sense of urgency. Motivation can cool off fast, so strike while the iron is hot.

As you set your resolutions for 2018 make sure to be SMART when developing the plan for your success. Execute your plan one day at a time and you will arrive at your destination right when you planned you would.