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How to Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

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How to Make SMART New Year’s Resolutions

As the end of the year approaches, many people are motivated to make New Year resolutions.  Something about the temporal marker stimulates this for us.  It is a healthy practice and can be very helpful if sustained.  There is a mindful way to help these resolutions be successful.  


First start with an objective look back at the year.  Ask yourself these questions in a factual, non-judgmental way. Did you have resolutions?  Did they work?  What made them successful or not?  Did you have any successes this year?  How did they happen?  The success may have been unexpected such as during the pandemic when many people ordered home exercise equipment and got in the best shape in years.  An objective assessment of that situation could be that having the equipment in the house stimulated more frequent exercise.  You can then frame this year’s resolutions from understanding the things that facilitated or worked against success last year.  For even doing this objective evaluation, appreciate yourself with loving-kindness.


Using the results from your objective evaluation, decide on a few resolutions.  An optimal number would be three and probably no more than five.  The most common choices are more exercise, lose weight, save money, eat better and taking on a new hobby.  


Most resolutions fail when they are too vague or too long term as shown in the illustration above.  A good approach to more successful resolutions is to use the SMART goal method.  SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time sensitive.  Using exercising more as an example, saying that you want to lose 30 pounds this year is going to be hard to accomplish. Saying that you are going to join a gym and get a personal trainer with at least one training session scheduled by the end of January is the SMART method.  Any resolution, which is essentially a goal, can be put in SMART terms.


After making a few SMART resolutions, give yourself some recognition and appreciation.  Happy New Year!