Happy New Year!

It’s January.

For many parts of the U.S., this means freezing cold temperatures, cranking the thermostat up to absurdly high levels in a misguided effort to heat the house more quickly, and New Year’s Resolutions.

When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, I’m somewhat conflicted.

You see, I used to always believe that it’s best to make SMART goals when it comes to resolutions, especially those related to fitness and wellness.

SMART stands for Specific, Measureable, Action-Based, Realistic, and Time-Based.

For instance, a goal of “losing 20 pounds by the end of 2023, by walking for 30 minutes, 5 days a week at a moderate intensity, starting tomorrow” is a SMART goal. In some ways, I can’t possibly find fault with SMART goals. It makes sense to structure goals in such a way as opposed to the broad, general goals, such as “getting healthy”, that most people set each year.

However, after a recent Instagram fit-fluencer binge, I found myself, for the first time in a long time, wanting to push back against this methodology. Literally EVERY, SINGLE fit-fluencer was parroting this advice: to use SMART goals and to set short-term goals that feed into long-term goals. And if a bunch of PED-obsessed people who constantly lie about being PED-obsessed offer something, I have a tough time accepting their advice at face value.

But again, I can’t completely abandon the SMART goal method. This goal-setting strategy absolutely works, there’s no doubt about it.

I just no longer think that we ONLY need to set SMART goals. I think it’s also important to set lofty, unreachable resolutions. The caveat being that we need to understand that we will never reach these goals.

Recently, Magnus Carlsen, considered by some to be the best chess player of all time, and objectively the best chess player currently competing, was interviewed about his career and his future plans.

He stated that one of his goals was to reach level 3000 ELO. Without getting into the complexities of the absurd chess rating system, suffice it to say that a level 3000 is likely a level that only a computer will ever reach. And Magnus knows this. He later added that he is almost positive that he will never achieve this goal, but it will give him to something to keep striving for the rest of his playing days.

We all need this type of goal: something to keep reaching for forever, knowing that we’ll never quite get there.

We all also need small, reasonable goals that we can check off from our list over time.

So, if you have a New Year’s goal that seems too lofty this year, I recommend you keep it. Just also be sure to add in a few SMART goals as well.

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