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How to Set New Year’s Resolutions with SMART

I freaking love starting a new year. While not much physically changes between December 31st and January 1st, my mindset changes. January 1st marks a fresh start. And with the new year comes new goals. Otherwise known as new year’s resolutions. After spending a bit of time reflecting on the past year, I love looking forward to the new year and the possibility that comes with it. I like to envision what I want my life to look like on December 31st of the new year. What will I have accomplished? What memories will I have made? And I use those visions to build my new year’s resolutions. What will I need to do to make those visions a reality?

Unfortunately, new year’s resolutions get a bit of a bad rep. Some people see them as wishes that we make on January 1st that we will inevitably give up on within a few weeks, only to leave us feeling bad about ourselves. Personally, I love new year’s resolutions. When crafted correctly they provide direction and purpose to the year ahead. So, what’s the secret to coming up with new year’s resolutions worth sticking too? Make SMART resolutions. 

What are SMART Resolutions?

You may have heard of SMART goals. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. While this acronym is used for goal setting, I also use it when coming up with new year’s resolutions. After all, a new year’s resolution really is just a goal.


The first step in creating a productive new year’s resolution is to make it specific. The more detail the better. So rather than having a resolution to “wake up earlier”, pick a specific time. Deciding to wake up at 6:30 am every weekday and 7 am on the weekends, is much more specific/measurable than simply striving to wake up earlier. More detail leaves less more for interpretation. Plus, it makes it easier to track your progress against the resolution. Speaking of tracking progress….


The more specific your resolution, the easier it should be to measure. For example, let’s say in the new year you want to be healthier. Rather than making this your resolution, perhaps you commit to working out 4x a week, taking a daily probiotic and logging 7,000 steps a day. If your resolution is not easily measurable, it will be hard to track your progress against your goal. And, without the forward momentum that comes from making progress towards a goal, you may lose motivation.


Like I said initially, a lot of people dislike resolutions because they feel like they are setting themselves up for failure. And that is exactly what will happen if your resolution is not attainable. Let’s say you want to take up running but you haven’t run for over a decade. So, you decide to run a local half marathon in October (specific) and you’re going to run 3x per week (measurable) to prepare. Then you set a goal to run the half marathon in under one hour. Unless you plan on tying the world record, this would be totally unachievable. Don’t set yourself up for failure. Dream big! Strive for something you’ll really have to work for. But don’t make your resolution so unattainable that no matter how hard you try you feel like you failed.


This is where you focus on your “why”. Setting a resolution that is relevant to the direction of your goals will help keep you focused and driven. Whether it be relevant to your career, health or personal life, make sure the resolution will have an impact on your overarching goals. For example, if your intention is to launch your own business in the new year, striving to get promoted at your current job would not be relevant to your goal. If you are going to pour your time, effort and resources into something, make sure those efforts are leading you in the direction you want to go.


“A goal without a plan is just a wish.” I think something similar could be said for a resolution without a timeline. When setting your resolutions for the upcoming year, think about when you want them to be achieved. Not all resolutions will take the full year, and some will take more than a year. Regardless of the timeline, make sure you have one. And make sure it’s specific, relevant and attainable. In the example of the of the half marathon, the goal is to run a half marathon in October (time-bound). In the example of working out 4x a week, maybe you need to work up to this level of activity. So, you commit to 2x per week in January and 4x per week by the end of February. Putting an expiration date on your resolution isn’t meant to apply unnecessary pressure. It simply helps you gauge the level of effort you need to be putting in, and when, to make your goal a reality.

Parting Words

Set yourself up for success in 2023 and be SMART about your resolutions. Continue to refine your resolutions by running them through the SMART framework until you’re crystal clear on the who, what, where, when and why. Resolutions are meant to motivate you. To move you closer to the life you desire. I can’t wait for a year from now when you can look back on your resolutions and see all that you accomplished. Happy goal setting!

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