New Year's Resolution (Part 1): Make It S.M.A.R.T.

From late November through New Year’s Eve, we can become overtaken with this season of comfort and cheer, celebration and indulgence. We typically arrive at the end of the year with a full belly, large credit card bill, and in addition to warm, cozy feelings of love and camaraderie, some feelings of shame or guilt or “time to get back to work!” Does this sound slightly familiar? I’d be surprised if it didn’t, and if not, you must tell me your secret!

In the U.S., many commonly enter the new year by making a resolution. The word “resolution” stems from the word “resolve,” which means either to find a solution to a problem or predicament, or to take a decisive course of action. A “resolution,” therefore, is defined as a firm decision to do or not do something. This could be related to a problem, but not necessarily; the key is that a resolution is a firm decision that is unbroken and to which you remain loyal.

The pattern in our culture is that the most common “New Year’s Resolution” made relates to health, fitness, diet, or something of that genre. We want to “lose 20 pounds,” “work out more,” or “eat less sugar.” I can tell you that I have been there—blindly optimistic and gung-ho to execute a new plan for health, to see it fall through weeks, even days after making said “resolution.” Maybe you have too. It’s normal, especially when your resolution is not designed for easy execution.

A resolution is, simply put, a goal. Although the word “goal” does not sound as resolute and firm as a “resolution,” it works by the same ideology. Perhaps you have heard of the S.M.A.R.T. goal format, which outlines five objectives that are key to goal-setting. The five following objectives apply to goals and resolutions.



What is to be done/not done? How is it observable?



How will this action be evaluated? Which assessable terms (frequency, quantity, quality, cost, timelines) will measure whether or not I am attaining this goal?



Is this possible and realistic for me? Do I have the necessary time, resources, support, and knowledge to execute this task?



How and why is this important to do/not do? What impact will this goal have?



When will this be done? How often will I measure progress? What is the identified end-point?



There are plenty of goal-planning guides out there, but here is a basic template for developing S.M.A.R.T. goals. Using the S.M.A.R.T. format makes accomplishing a meaningful and impactful New Year’s resolution accessible and manageable, rather than daunting and stressful. However, before you begin any goal setting, the most important aspect of your resolution planning is that it is of personal value. Unless your resolution means something to you (rather than your partner, parent, doctor, boss, etc.), you’re unlikely to follow-through. Your resolution is yours and nobody else’s.