How to Write Good New Year’s Resolutions (And Keep Them)

Every year, when asked whether or not I am making a New Year’s resolutions, I say no. However, as December winds down, I always find myself starting sentences with, “On January 1st, I will start (or stop)…,” or “Next year, I will definitely do (or stop doing)…”

In other words, I make News Year’s resolutions without actually making New Year’s resolutions. Do I choose not to make formal resolutions out of fear that I won’t be able to fulfill the resolutions, or because I don’t think attempts to improve myself and my life should revolve around a start date of January 1st?

Honestly, it’s probably a little bit of both.

This year, however, I am going to make a formal New Year’s resolution. The question is: How do I write good resolution?

Well, resolutions are really just goals, so I am going to use some of the SMART goal-writing techniques that I learned in college back in 19-mumble-mumble (you don’t need to know everything).

SMART Goals

SMART is a mnemonic device used to remember the key aspects of a good goal. Using SMART standards, a good goal is:

Specific

The more specific your goal, the more likely you are to achieve it. For example, the goal “get healthier” is too vague. At the end of the year, you may not even know whether or not you’ve achieved it.

However, the goal “lower my cholesterol” is specific. It is also a goal that can be measurable, attainable, relevant and time-specific as outlined below.

Measurable

You must have a way to measure your success. Using the example from above, how would you measure the goal “get healthier?” There is no quantifiable measurement that can be applied to that goal.

However, “lower my cholesterol by 30 point” is a specific and measurable goal.

Achievable

Don’t set yourself up for failure by setting an unrealistic or unachievable goal. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don’t base your measurement for success on the amount of weight lost in one week by contestants on the Biggest Loser. For them exercise and diet are their full-time job while they are on the show.


Relevant

No keeping up with the Joneses (or the Kardashians) when setting goals. Be sure that your goal is relevant and meaningful to your life. not someone else’s. Make sure it is something that you really want to do, not something that just sounds good.

If you are trying to get more active, but hate running, “completing a marathon” isn’t a great goal. Instead, get creative and come up with something that fits your lifestyle and interests. Do you want to ride bikes with your kids or learn to ice skate? Maybe a goal as simple as walking 30 minutes every day after dinner would be perfect for you.

Time-specific

Every good goal will have an end date. Every great goal will have a start date, end date, and scheduled dates in between for measuring progress. Check out my goal below to see what I mean.

My SMART 2014 News Year’s Resolution is to…

Lose 10 pounds every three months for a total of 40 pounds between January 1st and December 31st, 2014. To achieve this goal, I will exercise at least 3 times a week, including, but not limited to walking, Pilates and weight training. I will also keep a food diary at least 5 days each week. If I do not meet a quarterly weight loss goal, I will increase both my exercise and food tracking requirements by at least one day per week.

My goal this year is more on the practical side, but I think it is great to make fun goals, too. If you want to get more creative, resolve to travel somewhere you’ve always wanted to go, re-read a book series you loved as a kid, cook one new recipe a week, or take up a new hobby (coin collecting, knitting, sky diving, snowboarding, glass blowing, etc.).

Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What is your resolution for 2014?

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links, which means that I get a commission from any sale made using those links. My family and my mortgage lender and power company thank you in advance for your support. All opinions in this post are my own.


Comments

  1. says

    I like setting goals, but don’t like to call them “resolutions”. I love having something to work towards throughout the year. One of my goals this upcoming year is to make my eating habits much healthier; more raw and lacto fermented foods. Happy new year!

  2. says

    I don’t really make resolutions but this year my “resolution” is to be a more present mom. I get so caught up in my blog a lot but this year I will learn to step away from the computer, listen and play more with my kids.

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