New Year’s Resolutions? How About S.M.A.R.T. Goals Instead?

Year after year, many of us try and set “New Year’s Resolutions”, where we try and improve some part of ourselves for the new year. But how many of us actually carry out our resolutions? As the year goes on, we often forget about our goals, saying “I don’t have time,” or “I don’t really know how to achieve it,”. Well, why does this happen?

Many New Year’s Resolutions focus on the destination, rather than the journey. For example, a New Year’s Resolution might be “I want to get fit by the end of the year,” or “I want to improve my grades,”. Other goals might focus on the journey, like “I will exercise at least three times a week,” or “I will focus more on my schoolwork,”. These resolutions, even though they are attainable, don’t really guide you.

Instead of setting a list of New Years Resolutions for yourself this year, try S.M.A.R.T. Goals instead!

S.M.A.R.T. stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. SMART Goals break down the steps to your final destination, making the whole process of achieving your goal much easier.

Specific: Setting a specific goal for yourself is much easier to accomplish than a vague one.

  • Who: Who is involved?
  • What: What do I want to achieve?
  • Where: Establish a location.
  • When: Set up a time frame.
  • Which: What are the requirements and restrictions?
  • Why: Why do I want to achieve this goal?

EXAMPLE: A vague goal would be: “I will get good grades.” A specific goal would be: “On school nights, between 6:00pm and 9:00 pm, I will complete my homework. After completing my school work, I will hand it in to the teacher on time.”

Measurable: Make sure you understand the measuring progress toward the accomplishment of each goal you set. This includes staying on track, reaching the dates you put a target on, and feeling accomplishment when you do complete the smaller goals.

To see if your goal is measurable, ask questions like:

  • How much? How many?
  • How will I know when it is accomplished?

EXAMPLE: An immeasurable goal: “I’m going to lose weight.” A measurable goal: “I will lose 10 pounds by February 1st, by joining a health club and working out at the gym 3 times a week.”

Attainable: Identify goals that are important to you, and figure out ways you can make them come true.

  • Think: Can you accomplish your goal in a reasonable amount of time?
  • You can achieve any goal you set if you plan your steps wisely and establish a time frame that lets you carry out those steps.
  • Goals that seem far away eventually get more attainable as you grow.

Realistic or Relevant: A realistic goal must be something that you are both willing and able to do.

  • Your goal should be both high and realistic.
  • Think: Is your goal relevant to your needs?
  • Think more about things you are weaker in than things you already can do.
  • Does this goal apply to what you want to achieve?

Timely or Time-BoundA goal should be established in a time frame.

  • If you don’t have a time frame, you have no sense of urgency.
  • Use many smaller deadlines to achieve your bigger goal.
  • Think: When do you want to achieve your goal?

By using S.M.A.R.T. Goals, we can understand our goals more, accomplish them, and be more successful. This year, we should all set S.M.A.R.T. Goals. It may seem like more work, but it’ll be less work in the long run. Let’s give it a try!


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