How to be SMART about New Year’s Resolutions

How to make smart new years resolutions

How to be SMART about New Year’s Resolutions

New Year, New you” – How many times have you heard that from advertisers, brands and media? The idea of reinventing yourself with the start of a new year and starting fresh is not a new one. Resolutions have become imbedded with the idea of the New Year; without fail, every New Year I get asked on multiple occasions, “What’s your resolution?” (as if it’s a given).

New year's resolutionsResolutions can be good, they can motivate and give us hope. Resolutions can also be damaging, letting ourselves down and setting ourselves up for failure. So the question becomes, what’s the difference between the two? How can I ensure I am making resolutions that will benefit me in the long run and not make me feel worse?

Using SMART goals should get you started on the right foot.

  1. S(pecific): Be clear with your resolution; instead of saying I’m going to learn a new language, decide exactly what language you are going to learn and where you can go about taking classes, or look for apps that can teach you.
  2. M(easurable): Give yourself something by which you can measure your goal by. If your goal is to start cooking dinner more and order take out less, what defines ‘more’ and less’? Instead say I am going to cook dinner a minimum of 4 nights of the week and order in no more than 3 nights.
  3. A(chievable): Make sure your goal is not too lofty and you are actually going to be able to follow through with it. If you have never gone to the gym before and your resolution is to go to the gym everyday for the year ahead you may be setting yourself up for failure. Perhaps start out with 2 days a week for a month, if you are able to stick to that then you can up the ante to 3 days the next month and so on. Baby steps, it’s a marathon not a sprint.
  4. R(ealistic): Be realistic about your resolution. If your New Year’s resolution is to travel the world but you have a family at home you have to care for that may not be realistic. Perhaps pick one country this year and map out a plan for future countries in the upcoming years.
  5. T(ime Based): By when? Always have that in the back of your head when setting a New Year’s resolution or goal. “I want to lose 10 lbs,” but by when? 6 months? A year? If you don’t give yourself a measure by which to complete the goal/resolution you may be setting yourself up for failure.

When resolutions are SMART, they can be a great motivator and help us to accomplish goals we’ve been putting off. Set yourself up for success not failure this New Year by making sure your goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-based.

Lastly, if your resolution doesn’t go as planned (for any amount of reasons) don’t beat yourself up. We all fall down. Pick yourself back up, brush it off and reassess your goal. Remind yourself that you don’t need January 1st to reset… any day is an opportunity to set a goal or do something new.


Authored by:  Tracey Weiss, LCSW