11 msfocusmagazine.org Making it work It’s easy to say, “I will eat healthier this year.” Butwhat isyourplan to make it happen? Why is it important to you? How will you measure success? How will you deal with setbacks? The approach you take to making your resolutions makes a big difference. Try treating your resolutions as SMART goals Specific: Define your goal as clearly as possible. Avoidvague language like “Iwant to do better.” Be specific about what changes your goal requires. Measurable: Consider how you will track your progress toward your goal. How will you judge if you’re doing well? Attainable: Make sure that your goal is realistic. Account for your limitations and challenges. Plan for what you will do if a relapse or other obstacle threatens to derail your progress. Relevant: Consider why the goal is important to you. What does attaining your goal mean for you? This is where the “resolve” comes from in your resolution – make sure that you believe your goal matters. Time-based: Break your goal down into steps and implement changes over time. Don’t feel that you must reach your goal all at once, but take it step by step, using a specific timeline to keep you moving forward. My Resolution: I need to get more sleep. Specific: I will make a conscious effort to go to sleep earlier, and at the same time every night,with a goal of getting eight hours a night. Measurable: I will purchase an inexpensive health-tracking device to monitor my sleep. Attainable: My schedule may make it difficult to get eight hours a night on days I have to get the kids up for school. I’ll get the children to set their clothes out the night before and help me prepare breakfast, so we can all sleep a bit later. I should be able to come close to my eight-hour goal those days, even if I can’t quite reach it. Relevant: I read that a lack of sleep can affect my immune system and contribute to inflammation. It’s important to me to manage that, because those issues affect MS itself and symptoms I struggle with – fatigue and pain. Time-based: At the end of each month, I’ll re- view how much sleep I’ve been getting nightly, and see how I can adjust things if I’m not meeting my goals. Using the SMART goals approach, you can create goals that are more likely to succeed. Remember, too, that your goals do not have to be all-or-nothing. Celebrate any improvements you make.