The Secret to Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions That Stick

Let's Go on achieving those resolutions!

Now that the presents have been unwrapped and the champagne drunk, it’s time to start thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. As a Fitbit user, the idea of goal-setting likely isn’t new to you.

You probably have a sense of what you want to do and the steps you need to take to accomplish it. You know that goals are supposed to be SMARTspecific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely—and that writing them down makes you 33 percent more likely to achieve them.

Yet, sometimes, you still fall short. What gives?

You may be missing one key—yet commonly overlooked—component of goal setting: the why.

Research shows that even if a goal is SMART, if someone doesn’t perceive it as meaningful, their drive to achieve that goal may diminish.

“People are more likely to complete goals that are tied to what they value most in life,” says Fitbit Advisory Panel member Sherry Pagoto, Ph.D., a psychologist and professor in the Department of Allied Health Sciences at the University of Connecticut in Storrs. “That way, the activity feels like it’s really helping you become the person you really want to be, as opposed to just an obstruction in your schedule.”

How to Find Your Reason

Two months ago Fitbit released a new campaign that highlights what inspired regular people like Rachel—who battled stress, weight gain, and type-2 diabetes for years—to get healthy. Each person’s goal was different but what spurred them to success was the same: They found their reason. Their why.

If you’re making resolutions this year, you should be doing the same. “All too often people skip the ‘why’ and go straight for a ‘what’ that they think they can nail,” says Stanford University health psychologist Kelly McGonigal, Ph.D., author of The Willpower Instinct. “But why vow to change something that isn’t connected to the vision you have for your life? It may be a little more intimidating to think about the biggest ‘why’s,’ but you have a much better chance of making a meaningful resolution.”

To figure out your reason, Pagoto suggests thinking about all the different areas of your life—family, work, relationships—and then writing down what you value most on a day-to-day basis in those areas. “For example, in regards to family, I’m a mom, so I might say, ‘What’s important to me about that role is that I’m a good role model and a loving mom,’” says Pagoto.

From there, break down those values into activities that support your resolution. That way the healthy habits you’re trying to adopt aren’t keeping you from the things you really value, but bringing you closer to them.

So if you have young kids and you you want to lose weight, maybe you decide to take a walk with them every day after dinner. That way, you’re getting in exercise, spending time with your children, and role modeling healthy behavior.

“Eventually, the healthy behaviors may become inherently valuable,” says Pagoto. “But some people, quite honestly, may never feel like that.” And that’s Ok. “ You may never love exercise for its own sake,” says Pagoto, “but you can like it more (or hate it less!) by having it help you live out the values that are important to you.”

What’s your reason for getting fit and healthy in 2018? Fitbit wants to know! Share your story on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using #MyReasonIs or visit Find Your Reason to submit a photo or video.

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