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New Year, New Goals: How to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Better in 5 SMART Steps

Christmas is over, and 2022 is fast approaching – are you ready with your New Year’s resolutions?

The first day of the new year is always special because it signifies a fresh start, an opportunity to leave the past year’s bad habits and mistakes behind and turn a new page in life. Some people think of the new year as a blank slate where they have a free pass at life’s Reset button and a chance to get things right. As a result, many are compelled to make New Year’s resolutions, from the simple to the elaborate.

Here’s a word of caution, though – not all resolutions achieve success! New York Times published a grim fact stating that more than 50% of all New Year’s resolutions fail. The article also cited a separate study by Franklin Covey wherein apparently, many people (around 30%) do not manage to stick to their resolutions by the end of the first month. A bit disheartening, right? But hey, don’t give up before you get started on those resolutions! Most New Year’s resolutions fail because they are either (a) too vague or unclear, (b) created based on the expectations and standards of other people, or it could be that (c) your goals are not realistic.

When it comes to setting up your objectives for the New Year, you need two things: a set of SMART goals and a smart plan for achieving your resolutions. If you are wondering, having SMART in all uppercase letters is not a typing mistake; it is an acronym for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound, which are the ideal characteristics of any goals.

Setting up a SMART Goal

Goal or resolution setting is a great way to identify where you want to be in life. It gives a sense of purpose to the doer and serves as a roadmap for an intended target. Therefore, living a life without goals is equivalent to navigating towards a destination without a map or a compass – you will get lost along the way, or worse, will not be able to find your way to your destination at all!

A SMART goal is considered a practical guide in goal setting. The SMART framework is composed of elements that work harmoniously together to produce clear and well-organized goals that you can track the progress of overtime.

Here is a short explanation of how each SMART acronym works:

S for Specific.

The more precise your goal is, the better. To avoid any form of ambiguity, it should answer the “W” questions, such as “Why is this goal important to me?”, “What do I really want to reach?”, “Which resources are needed?”, “Who is/are involved in this goal?” and “Where should I accomplish this goal?”.

For example, if your goal is “I will not be late for work.”, you can make it specific by saying, “I will strive to wake up at 6 AM every morning, from Monday to Fridays, and be at the office by 8 AM.” Now, that’s a well-defined goal!

M is for Measurable.

When setting up your New Year’s resolutions or life goals, the second step in the process is to identify criteria that will allow you to measure progress. Why? It’s essential to track your progress so you can see how close or far you are from achieving your goal.

To make your goal measurable, you need to define it in quantifiable amounts. You can ask yourself, “How many or how much?” or “How would I know if I have achieved my goal?”.

So, if your New Year’s resolution is “I will lose some weight”, you can be more specific by saying, “I will lose 15 pounds by the end of March and I will do this by getting a membership at the local gym and working out three times per week”. See the difference? The first goal is clear, but it does not indicate progress. By adding how much weight you want to lose within a specific point in time, you’ve made it measurable.

A is for Achievable.

It is okay to dream high and dream big, but make sure that your resolution or goal is still realistic! Otherwise, you will eventually get de-motivated and out of focus. To avoid that, you need achievable goals in a reasonable timeframe. But just because you are encouraged to choose achievable goals for next year, it does not mean that you should go easy on yourself and lower the bar (so as not to fail)!

A SMART goal or resolution will challenge you to give your best, and at the same time, it is well-defined that you can achieve it without spreading yourself too thin.

For example, if you want to get promoted to a higher role in the company, you need to examine if your existing skills and experience match the requirements of the new position. If not, you should plan your next steps: what kind of training do you need to improve your skills? Do you have the time and resources for the training? Is there anyone in your team or company who can mentor you?

R is for Relevant.

Sure, it is fun and exciting to make a list of New Year’s resolutions but bear in mind that those resolutions should be relevant and in line with your values and long-term goals. If a resolution does not resonate with your broader objectives, you should carefully rethink it.

A relevant goal is worthwhile, in sync with the other goals that you have, and applicable at the current state of your life.

T is for Time-bound.=

A date for achieving your goals provides a needed push and helps you prioritize. It also gives you a timeframe that you can easily visualize. For example, it is okay to say, “I want to travel more.”, but it is much better if you add, “I want to visit a museum once a month, a new city every two months, and a new state every three months.

A Final Word

I hope these 5 SMART steps help you achieve your 2022 resolutions! It might be hard at first (new habits take time to develop), but be as consistent as possible and follow through!

An expert tip: at this point, if you are still clueless about what to put in your New Year’s resolutions list, ask yourself what your top five values are and then use them as the basis in the creation of your goals. Or, stick to what makes you happy!

New Year’s resolutions are not absolute or fail-safe, but they can serve as stepping stones to achieving what you want in life. Good luck!

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