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Have you ever set a New Year's fitness goal, only to revert back to old habits by early February? You're not alone.  According to University of Scranton research, only 8% of people actually accomplish their new years resolution goals. How do you become one of the 8%?

 The start of a new year is an excellent time to take inventory of your health and set goals to improve. When it comes to goal setting, however, there's a SMART way to go about it - literally. Make your new years goals Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.

1. Specific

What, specifically, do you want to achieve? By what date? Setting a goal to "lose weight" is far less impactful than committing to "lose 10 pounds by March 1st."

2. Measurable

Resolving to "eat healthier" is great, but what constitutes "healthier?"  This goes along with specific, and makes it much easier to set actionable steps towards your desired result.  Instead of "eat healthier," try "I will no longer order French fries when I eat out."  That's easy to measure - did you or did you not eat French fries last week? Likewise, if your goal is to lose inches in your problem area, set a specific number, and measure your progress each week. This reminder will keep you motivated when the "new year buzz" starts to wear off.

3. Attainable

New Year goals are often a grandiose, sounding great in the moment, but ultimately setting us up for failure. Make sure you're setting sensible, attainable goals. Start small and work your way up to bigger goals.

4. Realistic

Being realistic and being attainable are similar, but not the same. Dropping a size or two is attainable, but doing so in two weeks may not be realistic. If you're looking to increase your strength, make sure to don't try to do too much too soon, or you'll risk injury.  If you're looking to lose weight, be sure to stay reasonable with the amount of weight you can lose each week while maintaining a healthy diet.

5. Timely

Finally, make sure you set "sub goals" or milestones towards your goal. For instance, if your goal is to "lose 10 pounds in 10 weeks," break it down into a smaller sub-goal of losing one pound a week. This will allow you to keep track of your progress and make adjustments accordingly. Accomplishing small intermittent goals on your way to something bigger goes a long way towards staying motivated.

What other tips do you have for setting achievable goals? Share with us in the comments below.  

Photo courtesy of: Jeanette Goodrich

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