Discover a SMART Way to Refine Your New Year’s Resolutions

Right around the time of writing this blog, some of you may have already started to falter on your New Year’s resolutions.  Before you beat yourself up about it, recognize that you are not alone. In fact, according to Business Insider, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.  Some of the different reasons for this may include:

  • Goals that lack meaning to the person making it.
  • Unspecific goals.
  • Not having specific action steps to ensure success.

If you’re a person who tends to break their New Year’s resolution, try changing your strategy.  In a New York Times article titled How to Make (and Keep) a New Year’s Resolution, writer Jen Miller integrates the works of authors and researchers who have developed ways to help people stay aligned with their intentions.  She refers to the SMART method of goal setting to guide the article. SMART is an acronym developed by the journal Management Review in 1981. The acronym stands for making goals and intentions that are: specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound.   Take time to review the insights from the article along with some of our comments below.

Goals and Resolutions should be:

Specific:  There’s a well known saying, “fuzzy targets don’t get hit”.  When we make clear and specific goals in our mind, our brain works on a conscious and even subconscious level to achieve those goals and intentions.  For example, when you want/need to make more money, your brain doesn’t have much to aim for aside from a worthy intention. However, when you become specific with your intentions and say you want to increase your income by $1,000, your mind’s target becomes clearer.  If we make it more refined by saying that you want to increase by $1,000/month over the next year, the target becomes even more clear and will more likely occur. Try looking at your resolutions and see how you can make them more specific.

Measurable:  Another saying worth remembering is “you cannot manage what you do not measure”.  When we measure where we are in relation to our intentions, it’s easier for us to gauge where we are in our journey towards our goals.  For instance, if you’re resolving to achieve a healthy weight you can obviously measure it by pounds lost. However, other measures could include: committing to working out a certain number of days per week,  reducing your portion sizes and adding healthy foods to your diet. Making a commitment to measure your progress will make help you to stay motivated, enjoy the journey and appreciate the challenges along the way.

Achievable:  We want to make sure that our resolutions and goals are achievable. Mapping out the steps towards our goals is a way to prevent the feeling of overwhelming.  The goal/resolution should also appeal to both sides of the brain.  The left brain is the logical side of ourselves that desires order to our intentions, while the right side relies on our creativity to develop goals that can be achieved.  It’s best when both sides are in agreement with our intentions.

Relevant:  Having a resolution that is personally meaningful will be the key to ensure that the resolution is long term.  If you resolve to be a more caring parent, it may be good to journal the reasons why that is important to you and your family.  Putting pen to paper can give you the chance to form intentions that have meaning and relevance.  The deeper you go into your journaling, the more meaningful the goal and the more likely you will stick to it over the long term.

Time Bound:  It is said that a goal without a deadline is a wish.  Creating goals and intentions is one thing, but setting a deadline to achieve those goals creates a sense of urgency and action to achieve those intentions.  You may have observed how substantial progress towards a goal/resolution is achieved in the last few weeks or days before a deadline is met. Without a set deadline, you lose your opportunity to create the urgency and action necessary to achieve your goals.

Resolving to change old habits can take time and energy.  Making specific, meaningful and achievable goals will give you the energy necessary to deepen your intentions.  Setting a timeline to those goals sets those intentions into motion and developing results that can be measured allows you to enjoy the journey along the way.    

As always, feel free to schedule a free consultation if you need support around your health challenges.

Remember, Life is Always Better when you Live it In Color,

Drs. Richard Tran and Michelle Hsu

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