December 31, 2021 3 min read

Last year, statistics showed that about half of Americans wanted to start 2021 by getting in shape. About 48% of the population wanted to lose weight and 39% wanted to improve their diet. Other common resolutions involved saving money, pursuing career ambitions, spending more time with family and less time on social media, and taking up a new hobby.

Sadly, the average American abandons their New Year’s resolution by February 1, just 32 days into the new year. 68% of people give up their resolutions even earlier.

There are still a few days left in the year and we want you to be SMARTer about making personal improvements as January begins.

SMART is a mnemonic acronym–and a well-established tool–that provides criteria to guide you in setting goals and objectives. In case you don’t know, mnemonic means that each letter stands for a word in a list. In this case: S=specific, M=measurable, A=achievable, R=realistic, T=time-based.

Gold Sparklers

Specific

Start with the W questions: WHAT do you want to accomplish or change, WHY do you want to accomplish or change it, WHO needs to be involved to help you, and WHICH obstacles may stand in your way. If the goal or change is location-based, you’ll also want to think about WHERE. WHEN comes into play more in the “time-bound” section, but a loose timeframe can help in being specific.

Measurable

This sounds very scientific, but you need to determine how you will measure success. Maybe it’s meeting specific milestones or doing things a certain number of times. Either way, think of this as the way you will know if you’ve done what you set out to do.

Achievable

This doesn't mean you should only set out to do things you already know how to do. We can’t really grow that way, but you need to set reasonable expectations. Learning to speak German in an afternoon isn't likely an achievable goal. Neither is training to run a marathon in a week. That doesn’t mean speaking German or running a marathon aren’t achievable goals, you just need to be realistic about what it will take to do them.

Relevant

This means your resolution should be something that’s important to you and adds value to your life. Ask yourself what’s missing from your life, or what challenge you’d like to meet and start there.

Time-Bound

Time constraints or timelines help create urgency. If you don’t set a timeline for achieving a goal or making a change, you won’t really have an incentive to complete it. If this is a long-term goal, you should set smaller goals that you intend to have completed by certain times (halfway through the time, etc.).

While this is a great way to guide yourself through the thought process of New Year’s Resolutions, it isn’t fool proof. Some people tend to focus too much on the attainable and time-bound aspects of SMART and don’t stretch as far as they could. On the other hand, if you’re too ambitious you can add more stress to your life than necessary.

Here is one example of how you can frame a resolution SMARTly.

Eiffel Tower at night

Example: I want to learn to speak French in six months using an app on my phone so that I will feel more confident and comfortable conversing with people when I travel to France.

Specifically, you want to learn to speak French. You can measure that progress by words learned and improving conversational skills. It’s attainable because you’re using a well-respected program. It’s relevant because it will help feel more confident when you travel to France. It’s time-bound because you want to do it in six months.

What is your 2022 resolution going to be? Share with us in the comments!