Author of "Your Journey from Fired to Hired"

5 Tips for choosing a SMART New Year's Resolution

Will you be one of the 45% that break your New Year’s Resolution by the end of January?  Granted that’s a pretty staggering statistic for a long running tradition that’s gained so much traction.  But according to life coach Laura Berman Fortgang, author of Living Your Best Life. “New Year’s resolutions rarely stick. In fact, 23 percent of us break them in a week."

I’m planning to give you some tips to beat that statistic (and keep your New Year’s Resolution!) in my next post…but first things first.

This post focuses on some things you should consider when deciding what your resolution will be.  You see, resolutions are really nothing more than goals.  And choosing “the right” goal is simply a fundamental (and often overlooked) part of this process.

1.  Be Yourself-Find the passion. Choosing the topic for your New Year’s Resolution is step one and extremely important.  If you want a shot at truly making your resolution stick, then it’s important that it’s something YOU really want.

Perhaps it’s due to the busy time of year just preceding the holiday, naming a New Year’s resolution catches many by surprise.  Instead, of naming a resolution based solely on peer pressure in the final day or hours, this goal (like all others) should be one you are very serious about and should match your core values.

While it’s certainly socially popular to claim your desire to “lose weight” or “stop smoking,” if those things aren’t truly important to you, then chances are your ability to find success is limited and you stand a good chance of becoming yet another statistic of those who fail their New Year’s Resolutions.

Not sure what things are truly important to you?  Check this out for a free tool to help determine your values.


2.  Pick ONE thing. Classic overachievers struggle with the concept of picking only one New Year’s Resolution.  While the desire to improve yourself in multiple areas is certainly admirable, experts also tell us that having only one New Year’s Resolution will help increase your chances for success.

It may not be the “big bang” that you want for the New Year, but it only makes sense.  Changing attitudes and behaviors (which most resolutions do) is just plain hard.

Realistically, if it were easy, would have you waited until now to make the change?  The simple answer is no.  It’s challenging and you needed a catalyst to push you into action.

Dividing your focus between too many different areas is a mistake.  Instead limit yourself to the one goal that you decide is the most important.  AFTER you accomplish that, then you can move on to the next one…and the next one!


3.  Be Realistic. While the clean slate of the New Year can be exhilarating, don’t let it go to your head. Your New Year’s resolution should be something you can realistically accomplish.

You obviously want to improve in some capacity, so it’s a given that the goal will stretch you and make you better.  But set a goal too high and it will quickly become insurmountable.  And just like that, you’re just another statistic.

Instead, be realistic from the outset about what you think you can and can’t accomplish.  For example, let’s say your goal is to compete in an Iron Man triathlon event.

While that’s admirable, if you don’t presently own a bike or a swimsuit, then it’s probably way beyond a “stretch” goal.  Perhaps a better plan would be to begin biking and log 1000 miles by the end of the year.  Then next year, maybe add the swimming piece and then finally hit the Iron Man competition the following year.

With that said, if your determination level is unparalleled, sure it’s possible you can do it all in one year.  It’s just not realistic for most of us.


4.  Mix it up. It always surprises me when someone reuses an old New Year’s Resolution that they obviously didn’t meet.  Isn’t the whole point of starting your resolution on the first day of the year that you have a clean slate and a new beginning?

Instead, choosing an old and unfulfilled resolution begins your year with a sense of failure.  The solution here is simple:  Don’t re-use resolutions from year to year.

If you haven’t been successful at achieving it in the past and are planning the same approach, it doesn’t take a genius to realize that you likely won’t succeed again.

And if you are really determined to accomplish an earlier resolution, then try a different approach.  Perhaps you really want to lose weight and typically try a diet program of some sort.  If this hasn’t worked for you in the past, it’s time to mix it up.  Maybe this year, you take dance classes or join a hiking group!


5.  Keep Score. Resolutions are really just goals and like the goal setting acronym SMART teaches, good goals are measurable.  And f you aren’t familiar with the SMART acronym you can learn more about it here.

And it makes perfect sense.  Many people set goals that don’t include the critical M (Measurement) part of the acronym.  If you can’t measure your progress towards the final goal, how can you celebrate success?

Once you decide what your resolution will be, make sure it can be measured.  And if initially yours doesn’t include this critical component, don’t be surprised.  Many don’t and that’s part of the reason that we get lazy in efforts to meet them!

Let’s drill into this a bit.  Perhaps your resolution is “to be a better parent.”  While that’s admirable, what does success look like?  Does that mean you only yell at the kids on Tuesdays?  Or maybe you decide to have a family dinner (no phones allowed!) once per week.


I’d love to hear from you…. what is your New Year’s Resolution and is it SMART?

Article written by:

Kathi Miller-Miller is a sought after career specialist and author of “Your Journey from Fired to Hired.” Kathi draws on her 25+ years of success (and failures!) to offer her readers advice on topics ranging from dealing with a boss that drives you crazy to managing millennials...all in a light-hearted and easy to read style.

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