New Year’s Resolution — Make it SMARTER

2013 Calendar Showing January 1Every year, millions of people make New Year’s resolutions. This year make a SMARTER resolution you actually want to and will accomplish.

A New Year’s resolution is typically a year-long individual commitment to make a positive change. Popular resolutions include improve health, get out of debt, change jobs, volunteer, take a trip, and self-development.

Success Rate

How many people actually keep their New Year’s resolution and achieve their goal? Statistic Brain summarized the findings of a University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology 12/13/2012 publication. Two highlights are listed below.

  • 39% of people in their 20s versus 14% of people over 50 achieve their resolution.
  • 75% of people maintain their resolution through the 1st week64% past 1 month, and 46% past 6 months.

Planning for Success

The adage “failing to plan is planning to fail” is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin. He had a good point; planning probably enhances one’s ability to succeed. Another success factor is to establish a specific and realistic goal.

Businesses are very fond of goals and have devised many tools around goal setting. I like the SMART acronym and have added 2 additional letters to create SMARTER goals.

  • Specific – you need to know what you are trying to accomplish and why and be able to determine whether you did it or not.
  • Measurable – you should be able to quantitatively or qualitatively measure goal progress and completion. Depending on the goal you may need a way to record and track progress.
  • Attainable – the goal should be a stretch but attainable. If it is too difficult, you may become discouraged and quit. If it is too easy, you may not feel a sense of accomplishment when the goal is completed. It should be your goal, not someone else’s.
  • Relevant – be clear on how the goal ties into your life.
  • Time-bound – establish interim milestones and target dates. Achieving milestones confirms you are on track. Not achieving them provides an opportunity to revisit your goal and determine why you are not making progress and then take action.
  • Enlist – to help you stay energized and accountable, tell others about your goal and enlist their support. Ask a family member or friend, join an in-person group, or connect with like-minded individuals via social media.
  • Reward – celebrate progress along the way with appropriate rewards. It’s fun and looking forward to a reward can help maintain enthusiasm especially if you experience a setback.

New Year’s Resolution Example

“My spouse wants me to improve my health so I can hike with my family. My spouse says I need to eat more fruit and vegetables so I will try.”


“I want to improve my health so I can hike with my family. Currently, I only eat fruit and vegetables maybe once a day (do French fries count?). My goal is to increase my fruit and vegetable intake to 5-7 servings a day by year-end. I will increase my fruit and vegetable intake by a minimum of 1 serving per day each quarter. I’ll track what I eat and keep my friends up to date on my progress via a food diary app on my smartphone. After I have eaten at least 2 servings of fruit and vegetables a day for a month, I’ll reward myself with a reusable water bottle and holder to take on hikes.”

Just like business goals, personal goals may need tweaking and sometimes the original goal needs to be retired and a new goal established. Remember it’s your New Year’s Resolution.

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Author: Linda Poppenheimer

Linda researches and writes about environmental topics to share information and to spark conversation. Her mission is to live more lightly on Earth and to persuade everyone else to do the same.

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