When most people set New Year’s Resolutions, we are not very smart about them. We aim for the big-ticket items. The kind that gets us pumped up, emotional and excited.  But often, they fail us when moods, temperatures, and finances are down.  As the ‘newness’ of the New Year wears off, so does the excitement and commitment to the resolution.

I wrote before the New Year, that New Year’s Resolutions need a facelift.  To expand, this facelift can only be achieved by employing the S.M.A.R.T approach.

When we set up bonus plans in our organization, we base them on the employees’ achievement of an objective; meaning they must do something over and beyond their daily task to achieve that bonus, it is not ‘free money’. When setting those objectives, management is to use a SMART approach.

SMART is a mnemonic acronym given to help set the criteria for the objective. The objective must be:

S= Specific
M= Measurable
A= Achievable
R= Relevant
T= Time-Based

The SMART approach suggests that when you don’t set these criteria with the objectives, the ability for the objective to be met is lessened. These criteria help to define what the objective is, rather than giving a general idea of what one should do. Essentially it becomes the outline of a plan. And an objective without a plan is hard to navigate.

Utilizing this approach with our New Year’s Resolutions would help us to establish a few ground plans in actually meeting those goals by the end of the year. Breaking the SMART approach would look like this:

S= Specific
 • Set a New Year’s Resolution that is specific.  Don’t set a resolution, or any goal for that matter, that is general.
• Instead of saying, “I’m want to be healthier.”
• Be specific and say, “I’m going to lose work our every day and lose weight.”

M= Measurable
• Set a resolution that is measurable. To compare our results to our objective, resolution or goal, we must state something that is quantifiable and measurable.
• Instead of saying  “I’m going to work out and lose weight.”
• Quantify the effort and be measurable and say, “I’m going to work out and lose 80 pounds.”

A= Achievable
• Set a resolution that is achievable. To reach our desired results, sometimes we have to realize that we can’t go from zero to 100 in one year. The bigger tasks have to be cut down into smaller bite-sized pieces.
• Instead of saying, “I’m going to work out and lose 80 pounds.”  And then getting upset when that goal is not reached, giving up and relapsing, try saying, “My end goal would be to lose 80 pounds, but I know that to reach this, I must gain momentum and establish better eating and workout habits. To allow myself time to set up the foundations that I need for true success, I will aim to work out and lose 25 pounds this year.” Set yourself up for success by choosing something that is achievable, otherwise, we tend to be too hard on ourselves and give up before we even get a fighting chance.

R= Relevant
• Set a resolution that is relevant. Set a goal that means something deeper to you and those around you. When we are emotionally attached to a greater cause, that means something to us; we are more likely to follow through on our commitments.  If the size of your jeans does not truly mean something to you and you set that resolution only because other’s say you need too, it’s not likely that you will follow through.  So you have to think about what resolution, or goal, throughout the year you want to achieve and it has to mean something. Maybe it’s not losing weight. Maybe it’s able to play ball with your kids in the front yard without pain. Maybe it’s able to feel better through a healthier diet, to have more energy, better mood, deeper rest, increased focus and a greater chance of long life. Defining how the goal is relevant to you, makes it stick.

T= Time-Based
As with all people, we are more or less, and some more than others, pre-dispositioned to work off of a deadline. We procrastinate, or as I like to call it, we focus only on the things that we must focus due to our busy schedules, multiple interests and ever extended demands. To meet any objective, goal or resolution, we have to place a time value on ourselves. Perhaps even make it multi-phased so we can check and compare our progress throughout the year. Say by March, “I want to eat out less than twice a week, work out three times a week.” This deadline gives us a foundation for the healthier lifestyle we set for ourselves. Then say by June, “I want to be 10 pounds lighter so that when summer comes, I am more active with my family.” Halfway through the year, with these deadlines, you would have been able to set a foundation to be well on your way to your overall resolution for the year.

Going through this SMART approach before we blindly announce to our social media world I AM GOING TO LOSE 25 POUNDS THIS YEAR,” will help us to focus on what it is that we want, then outline for ourselves why we want it and how and when to go about getting it.

Start out this year by setting a foundation from which to grow instead of pushing yourself to be a completely different person overnight.  This will feel disingenuine, and you will turn your back on it and your goals. The Aim is to get 1% better, rather than be an entirely new person. And then each year you grow from the foundation you set in the year before.  Establish a framework for small improvements that will create a more profound change in you. It’s like the difference between studying for a test and really learning the material. A New Year’s Resolution should be so small in its task that it can be solidified into the fabric of who you are, that you learn and grow. A foundation for the next year’s growth.

Remember that Rome was not built in a day and something as grand as who you are becoming will and should take longer than a year as well!