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Posted on: January 5, 2022

Wellness Wednesday: How to New Year's Resolve the SMART Way


Making New Year's Resolutions the SMART Way

One third of New Year’s resolution makers don’t make it past the end of January!  A resolution often fails for one of three reasons:

  1. It’s created based on what someone else (or society) is telling you to change.
  2. It’s too vague or too big.
  3. You don’t have a realistic plan for achieving your resolution.

A goal setting tool called SMART addresses these trouble spots. The SMART acronym has been around since 1981 and stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound. It has been used successfully for developing goals in many settings, both professional and personal. You may find it works to help you create resolutions that stick.

Specific. Your resolution needs to be absolutely clear. It needs to be yours and specific to you. Stating a concrete goal is going to be more effective than just saying for example, ‘‘I want to lose weight.” It is more likely to succeed if you establish a detailed goal. Continuing with the weight example, a detailed goal would identify how much weight you want to lose and at what time interval – X number of pounds in the next two months. 

Measurable. How will you know you’re progressing if you don’t have a way to measure that progress? Logging progress into a journal, making notes on your phone, or using an app designed to help you track behaviors can reinforce the progress, no matter what your resolution may be. 

Achievable. This doesn’t mean that you can’t have big stretch, long-term goals. But trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you frustrated and less motivated to stay with your resolution. Say you resolve to save enough money to retire. A great goal, but the smaller step of saving an extra $25-$100 a month creates a more realistic, achievable goal. In addition, it allows you to see the savings, which in turn encourages continued saving. 

Relevant. Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making it for the right reasons? Are you doing it because someone else thinks you should? Unless it matters to you the likelihood of your success diminishes greatly.

Time-bound. The timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic. And goes hand in hand with setting achievable goals.  Give yourself enough time to do it with lots of smaller intermediate goals set up along the way. 

If you would like to talk to someone to help you create realistic and sustainable goals, please call Aurora Advocate Health (AAH) Employee Assistance Program (EAP) at 800-236-3231.

Text provided by AAH EAP adapted from the New York Times article by author Jen A. Miller.

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