With the December holidays quickly approaching, the countdown is on for a new year to arrive. If you are like most Americans, the brainstorming on how to start off the New Year with a health driven New Year’s Resolution is well underway. Perhaps you are considering starting a new exercise regimen, losing weight, or quiting smoking? You are not alone. Recent data suggests nearly forty to fifty percent of the population create a New Year’s Resolution each year. Sadly, these resolutions do not live long. One recent study found approximately twenty-five percent of people were not able to maintain their resolution through the first week of January, and only eight percent kept their resolutions throughout the year. New Year’s Resolutions the SMART Way New Year’s Resolutions dissolve quickly as the New Year starts for a handful of reasons including unrealistic expectations, lack of planning, or limited time to complete. Perhaps this New Year think about making permanent lifestyle changes rather than a yearly resolution. For the greatest long-term success consider using the “SMART” goal setting method. With this method, you will create a solid foundation to reach your goals. SMART is an acronym standing for the following words: SPECIFIC MEASURABLE ATTAINABLE REALISTIC TIMELY SPECIFIC Your health goals should be well defined and include a plan. Goals lacking details and structure are typically not easy to achieve and may produce lots of frustration. Incorrect Example – I want to eat healthier this year. SMART Example – I want to improve my eating habits this year by including a lean protein, fruit, and vegetable with all meals. MEASURABLE A well-defined goal needs to include measurements and parameters to determine success. Incorrect Example – I will exercise more. SMART Example – I will start exercising at least three days per week for forty- five minutes each of those days. ATTAINABLE Choose a goal you can realistically achieve. Goals that are broad may be more difficult to achieve. Consider breaking down the goal into smaller segments. Once you succeed with one segment, you will gain confidence to reach the next goal, eventually building up to the long-term goal. Incorrect Example – I will lose 100 pounds by the end of the year SMART Example – I plan to lose 10 pounds by the end of January and will then create another weight loss goal for February REALISTIC Create a goal that is consistent with your other goals and can be maintained for a long period. Consider your support system, resources, and environment as you make this goal. Incorrect Example – I will never eat chocolate cake again, despite that it is one of my favorite foods. SMART Example – I will only eat chocolate cake a few times per year for special occasions such as my birthday or anniversary. TIMELY A well-established goal should include a timeframe, including a start and end time. An open-ended goal will feel never-ending and produce dissatisfaction. Incorrect Example –I plan to lose ten pounds SMART Example – I plan to lose ten pounds by the end of March. If you make “SMART-er” goals this upcoming year, you will be much more likely to succeed with your New Year health ambitions.