Making SMART New Year’s Resolutions
By Madyson Fitzgerald
The new year has finally arrived, ushering in a fresh new decade where almost anything is possible. This is the time for making (and keeping) New Year’s resolutions, a widely practiced ritual at the end of every year. Historically, resolutions can get lost in the hustle and bustle of everyday life. That plan to go to the gym more often or to drink more water can easily become abandoned as the holiday spirit wears off. In the face of an emergency, that plan to save money can fall apart.
Impulsive resolutions can fall apart at the first sign of tension or conflict. Using SMART goals, these flimsy goals can turn into resilient (and realistic) resolutions that will last the entire new year! George T. Doran, the first to fully explain the acronym, published it in the November issue of Management Review, an international journal focused on commerce. The acronym became extremely popular for every aspect of life. Each letter in SMART represents a crucial element to making lasting resolutions.
When thinking about a goal, be as specific as possible. Being too broad could result in problems down the road. For instance, instead of saying, “I want to lose weight,” say, “I want to start going to the gym three times a week so I can lose about 20 pounds by the end of the year.” Identifying the who, what, when, where and why of your goal will make it easier to stay focused on.
Specifying the motivation behind your goal is also important. Planning a New Year’s resolution can be fun, but unless there is a strong inclination to stay concentrated on achieving it, things could easily fall through. Make sure to be specific in both stating the goal and your reason for accomplishing it.
Making sure that your goal is measurable goes hand-in-hand with its specificity. How exactly are you going to measure your success? Is it a specific weight? Is it a certain amount of money in your bank account? Is it an exact amount of friends that you want to make at your new job? Whatever the goal is, there needs to be a way to measure or critique your success.
The next crucial step is to set milestones throughout the year. Making targets for every week or month may act as a source of motivation. If the goal is to save money, aim for a certain amount by the end of every month and split your paycheck accordingly. For a simpler goal, like getting a few more hours of sleep a night, set an earlier bedtime every few months to ease into a better sleep schedule. Goals take time but organizing that time into smaller segments can make it seem simpler.
The enthusiasm over the new year can make it seem like anything is possible and nothing is out of reach. While it is good to have a healthy sense of optimism, resolutions should be realistic as well. Becoming a millionaire in a year is a bit fanciful but becoming more financially aware and learning to save money is more reasonable. New Year’s resolutions are meant to be accomplished while also developing commitment and accountability throughout the year. To make sure your resolution comes true, it is important to consider how achievable it is.
It can be easy to get lost in the ambitious resolutions that friends or family may share. Whether it be getting a promotion at work or moving into a new house by the end of the year, hearing the New Year’s resolutions of others can turn into a comparison game. However, it is important to make sure your goal is something that you are interested in. If all of your friends want to start going to the gym more, but the amount of times you go is already comfortable for you, there should be no pressure to hop on to their resolutions. The new year should be all about you!
Last, but not least, your New Year’s resolution should have a time limit. Saying that you will finish the goal “someday” does not count as a timely goal. Instead, give yourself a comfortable period to accomplish it. Whether it be by the end of the new year or the course of the new decade, it’s important to give yourself enough time, but never too much. Practicing good pacing and finishing specific milestones is also a way to promote timeliness in your everyday life.
Making resolutions with your friends is also a great way to spend the new year! Not only does this provide for friendly competition, but it also calls for accountability as well. Tackling resolutions together can prompt motivation in everyone’s goals! Using SMART goals is a great way to start the new year, but even these require significant attention to detail. Taking the time throughout the year to review or make changes to your resolution can be rewarding at the end of the day.