Plan For The Year Ahead

Every year, we get a chance to start on a clean slate. The question is, what will be written on that slate come year’s end? To make sure we fill our slate with worthwhile achievements, we need to plan for the year.

Plan for the year the SMART way

Saying “I want to get fit this year.” is vague. This is why many people’s resolutions fail. Instead, set a SMART goal.

A SMART goal is Specific,Β Measurable,Β Achievable,Β Relevant, andΒ Time-bound.

1. Specific

You have to be very clear what you want. It’s not enough to say “I want to be fit.” Do you want to be fit so that you can:

a) Enjoy participating in sports,

b) Feel and look good, or

c) Live to a ripe old age?

Knowing why you want something is a big part of developing the motivation to work on the goal. So a specific goal may be:

“I feel and look good because I am fit.”


How will you know when you have reached your goal? If the goal is to be fit, you can measure it in terms of:

a) your Body Mass Index (BMI)

b) how long you can run for without stopping

c) resting pulse rate

Building on the previous step, you now have a specific, measurable goal:

“I feel and look good because I am fit enough to run a marathon.”


It is better to set a small goal and achieve it, than a big one and miss it. Conversely, when you can see yourself hitting a smaller goal, you have great incentive to keep at it as you can almost taste success.

Based on your track record and current state, see if your goal needs adjusting. If you have never run anything more than 5km and are too busy to train seriously, a full marathon may not be achievable anytime soon. Perhaps you could settle for a half marathon of 21 km instead or even a quarter marathon of 10km.

Your specific, measurable, achievable goal may now be:

“I feel and look good because I am fit enough to run a half marathon.”


Double check to make sure that the goal is relevant to what you really want. If the purpose of running a half marathon is to look and feel good, don’t sabotaging yourself by having a huge meal after each training run.

Keep the goal relevant by making sure that when you achieve it, you will feel and look good. Write this down so that you won’t lose sight of the goal and get hung up on the marathon itself.

Your specific, measurable, achievable, relevant goal may now be:

“I feel and look good because I am fit enough to run a half marathon in a size 10 T-shirt.”


A goal is a dream with a deadline.

– Napolean Hill

Ours brain don’t take a goal seriously unless there is a deadline. Have you ever noticed that your most productive week at work is the week before you go for a long vacation?

Give your goal a deadline and you’re halfway there already. The deadline makes the goal a priority in your subconscious.

Your goal is now SMART. It may look like this:

“I feel and look good because I am fit enough to run a half marathon in a size 10 T-shirt by June 2021.”

Now isn’t that much better than just saying “I want to be fit”?

Choosing goals

If you’re not sure what goals to set this year, review the past year first. Then choose 3 goals to work on in the coming year.

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13 replies on “Plan For The Year Ahead”

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That’s a great SMART goal! Years ago I hated running but this year made it a habit to run everyday and actually started to like it, look forward to my daily run, and miss it when for whatever reason I didn’t run. So my encouragement to you is to just get started, because it will get easier after a while.

One suggestion is to read your goal again and remove any words that refer to things you DON’T want, like ‘heart attack’. Your brain has a funny way of internalising the words you tell it everyday so be careful what words you feed your brain…

The simple answer to how I do all this is probably because I don’t have children? πŸ˜‰ I’ve also cut a lot of clutter out of my life to focus on what’s really important to me. In fact I started this blog because I have time on my hands now and want to do something meaningful with that time.


My SMART goal will therefore be I want to just burn the calories that I put on at least 3 times a day and that means going to the gym twice a week to run 2km on the threadmill without dying of a heart attack – and give up the idea of losing the 15kgs I’ve put on since the last child’s birth.

BTW, how do you manage to work, write a demanding blog like this, read alot etc and still participate in forums like the Sgp Exp?

@ Stacey, glad that my post helped someone! Thanks for your comment, and all the best for 2009!

@ Celes, sama sama. I’m sure we’ll be in touch!

Hi Celes, thanks for dropping by! GIGO does apply to much in life, especially our thinking process. You’ve got a good blog going; I enjoyed your last post on imposed and liberated purposes.

(Yes, I am.)

Hi Daphne! πŸ™‚ I found your blog from Yan’s Blogging for Beginners. Great post and I am an advocate for setting specific goals! If goals are fuzzy to begin with, we will end up getting fuzzy output as well – garbage in, garbage out.

(By the way, are you a Singaporean?)

What is great about the SMART method is how specific the final statement becomes. And with it being specific, it much more likely that you’ll achieve it. I like how you gave an example and walked all the way through the different steps – it really added meaning to what this does.

@ Middle Way, thanks for your very positive and motivating comment! I visit your blog regulalrly and am impressed with how specific your financial goals are too. As Lance says, that makes it very likely you’ll achieve them and I can see you’re halfway there already.

@ Lance, you’re so right. Most new year resolutions don’t get done because they were not specific enough in the first place for us to know what we’re gunning for. I’m a great believer in specificity and I can see you are too. Good to have a fellow believer!

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