You’ve probably heard that a majority of New Year’s resolution makers don’t stick with the resolutions they make. Maybe you’ve tried to set your own resolutions and struggled with them. Or maybe you’ve deemed resolutions pointless without ever having set one.
Regardless, you’re not alone if you associate New Year’s resolutions with feelings of failure.
Have you ever thought, though, that the problem might be with the resolution itself? Maybe it has nothing to do with the person making the resolution. Maybe they didn’t fail, but they picked a resolution that just didn’t make much sense.
A New Year’s resolution is essentially a goal. It’s something you’re striving for in the new year. In order to be effective all goals—and therefore all resolutions—need to be SMART. SMART goals and resolutions are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-Bound.
You won’t follow through on a resolution if it’s too broad. That’s because broad goals are overwhelming, and you might not even be sure where to start. You need to narrow your focus a bit so your resolution is something you can actually wrap your brain around.
For example, your resolution to get healthy in 2017 isn’t specific. It’s much too broad. Where would you even start? A more effective resolution would focus on a specific aspect of health—perhaps weight loss, stress management or sleep are a better, more specific type of resolution.
If your resolution isn’t measurable, you’ll have no way to determine whether or not you’ve succeeded. There needs to be some type of measurement or number associated with your resolution. How will you know you’ve achieved your goal?
For example, while a resolution to lose weight is specific, it’s not measurable. You’ll need to attach a number to it. Maybe you want to lose 10 pounds, 20 pounds or enough weight to reach a healthy BMI. The measurement is up to you—but it’s a necessary part of an effective resolution.
It is important to think big when it comes to goals and resolutions. Thinking too big, though, can really hinder your chances of success. Your resolution needs to be something you can feasibly do. It needs to be achievable. If you set an impossible goal for yourself, you’ll never find the motivation to reach it.
For example, if you currently don’t have any regular exercise routine, a resolution to work out every single day in 2017 is not going to be achievable. In fact, a lofty goal like that probably isn’t achievable for someone who already works out regularly. Make sure your resolution is a reasonable next step in your health journey.
Your resolution should be about you. It needs to be a goal you value—not something you’re striving for simply because everyone else is. If your resolution isn’t relevant to your interests, passions and values, it won’t stick because you don’t truly care about it.
For example, if you’ve never had the slightest interest in team sports, your resolution probably shouldn’t include joining a sports league. If you want to focus on physical activity, find an activity you’re interested in and start there.
It can be easy to put off a New Year’s resolution until it’s too late to actually achieve it. A year seems like a long time, and it can be easy to think you’ve got plenty of time left to focus on your goals. If you set a deadline for yourself, however, you’ll have a better chance at staying focused and following through on your resolution.
Your deadline can be the end of the year—or you might even have multiple deadlines throughout the year. For example, if your resolution is to lose 20 pounds in 2017, you might consider setting milestones along the way. Perhaps you aim to lose five pounds by March, and then another five by July, and so on. That adds a little healthy pressure so you are forced to stay focused.
If you’ve struggled with New Year’s resolutions in the past—or if you’ve always been too intimidated to actually set one—just remember that the trouble with resolutions usually lies in the resolution itself. A lot of times, it has nothing to do with individual willpower (or lack thereof). Set yourself up for success by setting a SMART New Year’s resolution in 2017.