A wise person suggested that I write about how to make SMART new year’s resolutions. Not exactly sure what she meant, I typed the term in my web browser. The drop-down box quickly anticipated my search by suggesting “smartwatch, smart tv, smart car.”

I smiled and thought, what if we could automate our good intentions like we automate our electronics? Imagine buying smart fitness pants that run for us, or how about smart dumbbells that lift themselves?

After completing my online search, I discovered that S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for criteria we can utilize to reach our goals. First used in business and marketing circles, S.M.A.R.T. planning is also applicable to our wellness journey.

The five S.M.A.R.T. benchmarks are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable (some say Attainable), Relevant (some say Realistic) and Time-Sensitive. Basically, we break down our big dream into smaller tasks that each fit into these parameters.

None of us wants to waste our time doing something for nothing. This is the beauty of setting S.M.A.R.T. goals: we create a plan that is certain to get us where we want to go. In fact, I think we could practically “automate” our resolutions with this method.

Let me support this bold assertion by fleshing out the five criteria. For the sake of example, let’s say that John Doe applies S.M.A.R.T. to his 2020 goal to lower his blood pressure by getting more cardiovascular exercise.

  • Specific: John writes down where he is going to exercise, what kind of exercise he is going to do, and when he is going to do it. Also, John is very specific about his goal: he wants his blood pressure to stay under 120/80.
  • Measurable: John breaks his goal into small chunks and uses lots of numbers and dates. He walks briskly for 30 minutes at the YMCA on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays after work. After four weeks, he will add a fourth day. After four more weeks, he will add a fifth day. He keeps a calendar on his refrigerator where he writes down all his workouts and checks them off once completed.
  • Achievable/Attainable: John has consulted his doctor and a personal trainer to set an achievable timeline and appropriate exercise plan.
  • Relevant/Realistic: John buys good walking shoes and listens to free audiobooks while he walks. He checks his heart rate during exercise to make sure he is working hard enough to get results. He asks a trusted friend to hold him accountable to his plan.
  • Time-Sensitive: John wants to attain his goal in six months. He will check his blood pressure every two weeks and write the results on his calendar.

Now if you were John, once you set up this plan, would you really have to think about what to do? Or could following through become automatic?

Let’s write out our personal S.M.A.R.T. roadmap and then put in the work day by day. A S.M.A.R.T. resolution can be like a smart car: with enough fuel, it can take us right where we want to be.

By Chrissie Kaufmann, YMCA of Greater Michiana
Thursday, January 9, 2020 - 1:19pm