It’s that time of year again. The holidays are over, and it’s time to start thinking about what you want to accomplish in the new year. You might already have a few goals in mind, but if you’re like most people, your resolutions often end up falling by the wayside within the first few weeks of January. If this happens to you, don’t worry – there’s an easy way to ensure that your resolutions stick! All you need to do is set SMART goals.
What are SMART Goals?
The SMART goal system was first introduced in 1981, designed to help business professionals set achievable goals that will lead to lasting results. However, this system is an excellent tool for anything you wish to achieve, in or out of the office.
SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. These 5 criteria can help ensure that your resolution is both realistic and attainable. Let’s break down each one in more detail, using the example “I want to read more.”
When setting a resolution, be as specific as possible. For example, instead of saying “I want to read more.” try something like “I want to read self-help books.” This will help you create a clear plan of action that is easier to stick to.
Make sure that your resolution can be quantified so that you can track your progress along the way. This could mean setting a numerical goal (like reading 15 books) or having a measurable outcome (like developing the skills needed to set a firm boundary with a toxic family member).
While it is good to have lofty goals, make sure that you’re setting yourself up for success by being realistic in what you can achieve. Instead of saying “I’m going to read 100 books this year,” opt for something that you can actually stick to. For example, I don’t have time to read 100 books in 12 months, but I can commit to listening to audiobooks during my commute.
Your goal should be important to you. It should align with your values and help you achieve one of your long-term goals. For example, if your long-term goal is to become a better communicator and listener, reading self-help books can help you get there. If you hate reading, however, it would make more sense to find an alternate activity that will get you the same result.
Set an appropriate timeline for your goal to ensure that you stay on track. If you want to read 15 books this year, try breaking it down into a specific amount of time (e.g. Listening for 60 minutes daily will be sufficient to finish 1 audiobook every 2-3 weeks).
Dumb Goal vs. SMART Goal
Original: I want to read more.
SMART: I will read 15 self-help books this year. I’ll achieve this by listening to audiobooks for 60 minutes during my daily commute, so that I can become a better communicator and listener.
More Examples of Improved New Year’s Resolutions
1. Learn a new language.
SMART: I will speak A2-level French by July so I can communicate on my trip to Paris. I’ll take online lessons twice per week and spend 15 minutes on the Busuu app every morning before breakfast.
2. Take some online courses.
SMART: I will take an online digital marketing course every month so I can strengthen my skill set and have the leverage to ask for a promotion during my year-end assessment.
3. Lose weight and get in shape.
SMART: I will lose 10 pounds by joining a local gym and exercising 3 times per week for 30 minutes each session. I’ll also make healthier food choices by cooking at home and limiting take-out to only one time each week. This is important to me because I want to manage my pre-diabetes and climb the stairs without getting winded.
4. Have some money in Savings.
SMART: I will put aside $50 from every paycheck. This $1,300 will go into an emergency fund so I don’t have to use my credit card for unexpected expenses.
5. Stop stressing so much.
SMART: I will meditate for 15 minutes every day and practice 1 new stress management technique every month. I want to have more control over my emotions so I don’t snap at my kids or spouse after a long day.
Setting SMART goals can help us stay focused and motivated throughout 2023 as we strive to reach our resolutions this year! Remember to take things one step at a time—if things get too hard or overwhelming, it’s okay to reassess your timeline or break down large tasks into smaller ones.
If you find yourself struggling along the way, remember why you decided to set these resolutions in the first place—and stay focused on achieving them! Write your goal somewhere you’ll see it often, and hold yourself accountable.
Good luck, and Happy New Year!