Creating “SMART” New Year’s Resolutions

Creating “SMART” New Year’s Resolutions

Resolutions are commonly created and discussed around the start of a new year. People make resolutions to continue good practices, change a behavior, or accomplish a personal goal. However, when the initial energy and excitement of the new year wears off, many people do not adhere to their resolutions. One survey found that the average New Year’s resolution lasts between 2 to 3 months. Resolutions can be difficulty to adhere to because they are often too broad or vague (e.g., “I want to eat healthier”). Even if you are feeling motivated to make changes, it can be difficult to adhere to and accomplish a vague goal. Therefore, in this article, we aim to highlight ways to develop “SMART” New Year’s resolutions.

What is a SMART goal?

SMART is an acronym that stands for:

  • Specific: the goal clearly states what will be done
  • Measurable: the goal includes how the action/behavior will be measured
  • Attainable: the goal is realistic
  • Relevant: the goal fits into your purpose/values
  • Time-bound: the goal has a specific timeline for completion

Turning a vague resolution into a SMART goal

A common New Year’s resolution is “I want to exercise more.” Given how broad this resolution is, it can be difficult to adhere to. Here are suggestions for transforming “I want to exercise more” into a SMART goal.

  • Specific: What am I trying to accomplish?
    • Engage in exercise at least 3 times a week
  • Measurable: How can I measure my success?
    • Plan to exercise for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I can use a fitness tracker, like a Fitbit, to track activity.
  • Attainable: What will I do to achieve this goal? How will I accomplish my goal?
    • I will set aside time in the morning before work. I will find workout classes online or invest in a gym membership. I will seek help from family and friends to help with accountability.
  • Relevant: Is this goal worthwhile? Does this goal fit into my values?
    • Leading a healthy lifestyle is important to me.
  • Time-bound: When will I accomplish my goal?
    • I will commit to my goal for one month. After the month, I will assess whether I am achieving this goal and re-evaluate as needed.

Instead of, “I want to exercise more,” we now have: I plan to exercise (i.e., do an at-home workout class or go to the gym) 30 minutes before work on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.

Throughout the year, you can be flexible. You can evaluate your progress and adjust your goals as needed.


The New Year is a great time to reflect and plan on ways to build positive habits in the new year. However, it can be challenging to adhere to resolutions that are broad and vague. You can increase the likelihood of success by creating goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. With the use of SMART goals, you can assess your progress throughout the year and adjust your goals as needed.