New Year’s resolutions often get a bad wrap. For whatever reason when you talk about making resolutions or goals for the new year people scoff, roll their eyes, or drop a sarcastic wisecrack. Honestly, I don’t know why there’s so much hate regarding New Year’s resolutions. Personally, they have been crucial in helping me achieve some big life goals. For instance, starting this blog!  I thought it would be beneficial to share with you my approach to resolutions and yearly goal-setting. Maybe this can inspire you to make some healthy goals that change the trajectory of your life. 

 

Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Matter?

 We all have dreams, desires, and passions that we want to fulfill while we’re on this earth. In order to achieve those dreams, desires, and passions you have to resolve to make changes or improvements to bring those things to fruition. That’s why New Year’s resolutions are so powerful! I mean what better time than the start of the year to realize and go after your dreams and goals? Because when you achieve your goals and become who you’re destined to be you can impact the world! 

Whether that’s becoming a greater influence on those in your immediate life. Or, resolving to prioritize your health and nutrition. In the grand scheme of things, I believe it all matters. I mean just think about the people that live frustrated lives and take their disappointments out on others. More often than not their attitude is due to a failure to achieve, realize or reach their dreams and desires. Failed potential is a heavyweight to carry around for the rest of your life. And, who wants to look back on their life with regret? This is why I’m a big believer in setting healthy resolutions.  And that’s why I want to empower you on how to go about making these things happen. You may fail, but what if you succeed? Either way, you gave it a shot friend and that’s what matters!

New Years resolutions

 

 

Creating S.M.A.R.T Goals to Achieve Your New Year Resolutions

I hope my little “Ted talk” on the power of New Year’s resolutions got you fired up! Because today we’re going to talk about how to go about achieving them by creating S.M.A.R.T. goals. The SMART in smart goals is an acronym that represents the five basic foundations of goal-setting which are:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Action-Based
  • Realistic
  • Time-Bound

 

Additionally, there are two other important components I like to throw into the goal-setting process. They are building sustainable habits and conquering your obstacles. I think these two steps are necessary additions to this process. I’m going to break down this process and teach you the 7 steps I use when making resolutions and setting goals. I hope you’re ready because this is going to be the year you do the dang thing and make things happen. So, let’s start setting some SMART goals!

Why New Year's resolutions matter

Set aside a designated time to work through 1-3 resolutions you want to commit to for the year.

 

Step One: Get Specific

Sure, it’s easy to say you’re going to work out more in the New Year or say you’re going to follow a healthy diet. But, chances are you’re not truly committed to the goal. Instead of just saying you’re going to do something become intentional and really think about the why. For me, this process is the difference between putting the effort into achieving my goal versus not putting forth any effort. I find that the more I understand how this goal will positively impact my life the more I want it. The more hungry I become for it to become my reality. So, to get clear on this I want you to sit down and analyze why your specific goal matters to you. And, please get as specific as possible. You may want to journal or get feedback from a trustworthy source. Either option is a great idea to help you dig a little deeper and get to the root cause of your why.

 Some questions to ask are:

  • Why does this goal matter to me?
  • What’s my objective in achieving this goal?
  • What outcome am I seeking to achieve specifically?
  • Is this outcome physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual?
  • Will there be a tangible benefit of me achieving this goal?
  • Once I’ve accomplished this goal will this be something I can easily maintain for a lifetime?
  • Am I doing this for myself or for someone else?
  • What’s my mission?
  • What are my hopes, dreams, desires, and passions?
  • Am I committed enough to see this thing through?

Once you’re clear on the what’s and why’s of your goal you’re ready for the next step.

 

Step Two: Measure Your Success

A key reason many people give up on their New Year’s resolutions so soon is that they failed to establish how they were going to measure their success. You will need to find ways to track and monitor your progress on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. This is important because it will keep you committed to your goal. Furthermore, it helps to keep your goal in the forefront of your mind. So, you won’t be tempted to forget it or make excuses. Additionally, coming up with benchmarks during your journey can help you analyze your progress. Consequently, it’s a great way to determine if you need to tweak or change what you’re doing to get better results. I’ve found that keeping a goal tracker in a journal or planner helps me measure my success. Not only does it increase accountability but I can see when I’m starting to slack off and can get to the bottom of it.  When it comes to deciding how you want to measure your success you should understand:

  • What achieving your goal will look like and how it will feel. Be as descriptive as possible and very specific.
  • Tangible ways you can track and measure your progress.
  • Are there trackers and logs you can use?
  • A journal, planner or app?
  • Does tracking your goal digitally, using a whiteboard, or pen and paper have more of an effect regarding your motivation and accountability?

Figure it out and get to tracking. 

New Years resolutions

Keeping a journal or tracker not only helps with keeping you on track but can also identify areas of improvement

 

Step Three: Develop Actionable Steps

Sometimes when we have big New Year’s resolutions they can seem overwhelming. It’s easy to become boggled or feel as though it’s impossible to achieve your goal. This is why I’m a fan of breaking a goal down into small mini-goals. In doing this you’re able to manage your goal effectively. Thus, making it easier to know what needs to get done. Now, this process is going to look different for everyone. Your action steps can be broken down over a period of weeks or months. It all depends on how you want to pace yourself. 

 Let’s say your goal is to run a half marathon this year but you’ve never run a day in your life like ever. Instead of overwhelming yourself and causing possible injury, start a bit smaller at first. Aim to train for and complete a 5K first. And then, progress onward to a half-marathon. Your training could consist of running 1/2mile for 2 weeks. Then progressing to 1 mile for another two weeks. Finally, you can start running 3 miles for the next two weeks. Now you’re ready to sign up and run your first 5K. Wow, what an accomplishment. You literally went from no running experience to a low-key athlete. And, while you’re not ready for that half-marathon just yet you’re more prepared. So, you see breaking goals down helps make the impossible attainable. 

When developing actionable steps make sure you keep these 5 things in mind:

  • What resources and supplies do you need if any to get started? To continue?
  • How much time will you devote each day, week, month to your goal?
  • How can you break this goal down into actionable steps that can be accomplished daily, weekly, monthly?
  • How do these steps build on each other and move you closer to your goal?
  • Will you need money to achieve this goal? If so can you budget and save for the financial commitment?
create an action plan for new year's resolutions

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Step Four: Be Realistic

Don’t misunderstand me when I say this. I believe that you can achieve whatever you set your mind to. But, you have to be honest with yourself regarding your skills and abilities. For instance, you resolve to become a world-famous opera singer but can’t carry a tune to save your life. Well, that wouldn’t be very realistic now, would it? Basically, when setting realistic goals you’re trying to avoid setting yourself up for failure. This requires some honest self-reflection and self-awareness.

 It also means you need to take a good hard look at your environment. That includes your lifestyle, time, resources, responsibilities, etc. All of these things determine how realistic your goal is. When deciding if your goal is realistic or not, make sure you honestly assess yourself.

 Key self-exploration questions to ask include:

  • Do you have the resources to achieve this goal? (time, money, supplies, passion, focus, skills and abilities)
  • Is this a goal you can achieve in a realistic amount of time? (i.e. 6 weeks, 6 months or 12 months)
  • What’s the objective of achieving this goal?

 

 

Step Five: Make It Time-Bound

A key issue I’ve had in the past when it came to achieving my New Year’s resolutions is I never had a specific time when it had to be accomplished. There was never any rush or sense of urgency to get things done. And, due to this lack of urgency, I usually got bored and would quit pursuing my goal. It was when I began to set deadlines for my goals that made the difference. That’s when I really began to smash my resolutions each year. I’m sure a lot of you are thinking “Well, my deadline is to achieve my goal by the end of the year duh!” But, I’m here to tell you that’s not good enough. You need a specific date and time with benchmarks along the way to keep your head in the game.

Going back to creating an action plan. Breaking your goal down into multiple mini-goals streamlines the process. Why? Because it requires you to accomplish these mini-goals first which are essentially stepping stones to your main goal. What this does is increase your motivation. Therefore, you make more traction towards achieving your goal. As a general rule of thumb, I shoot for a minimum of 6 weeks but no more than 6 months for my goals. This way if I need more time I can always adjust and add more time. Yet, if I need to tweak and make changes to my goal I’m free to do so as well. Perhaps a similar approach could work for you. So, don’t wait, create a deadline and stick to it. Schedule regular check in’s and updates to track your progress and determine if adjustments need to be made. 

be realistic about your new year's resolutions

Set aside a designated time each week and each month to review your progress. Determine if there are any areas or opportunities for improvement.

 

Step Six: Build Sustainable Habits

I’m sure that your New Year’s resolutions are lifestyle changes you’re seeking to make permanently. You’re not trying to make changes in your life to slip back into stale, unhealthy patterns. This can only be possible if you develop the habits you need to make these goals a part of your life. I can think of no better way to make habits a sticky real process than to develop routines and practices that support your goals. 

For example, I enjoy working out in the morning. My morning workouts give me clarity and focus. And, they turn this grumpy troll into a magical unicorn. So, that’s why I’ve created routines that support this goal. The purpose of these routines is to make it easier for me to stick to my goal. Whether it means I prioritize sleep in the evening by going to bed on time. Or, taking the time to lay out my gym gear the night prior. And, making sure I charge the headphones I use while working out. You get the picture. All these routines trigger me to go workout. And, they are comprised of little actions that have become habitual for me. Furthermore, since these habits have become second nature I can easily stick to my fitness goals. Now, it’s your turn to create some sustainable habits. 

Here are three ways you can do so:

  • Create routines that trigger you accomplishing your goal.
  • Find ways to develop structure and prioritize your goals by getting organized in a way that works for you.
  • Explore various ways to manage your time more effectively. Maybe that means reducing the amount of time you spend on your phone or watching t.v.

 

Step Seven: Conquer Your Obstacles

Another important part of achieving your New Year’s resolutions is to anticipate the obstacles and stumbling blocks that may get in the way.  And, this is the part of goal planning that is quite often overlooked. While it’s impossible to be able to foresee all the potential problems you may or may not encounter. You can identify limiting factors that are already present and holding you back. What I mean is there’s obviously something in your life or within yourself that is keeping you from accomplishing your goal. If not you would’ve already accomplished it right? Therefore, identifying those limiting factors can help you overcome them. 

Let’s say you are determined to cook more healthy meals at home. It’s something that you’ve been wanting to do forever. But, for whatever reason whenever you start trying to make this goal a reality you end up quitting. After some honest self-reflection, you realize that the reason you stop cooking healthy meals is that you hate grocery shopping. You find it tedious and you never have time for it because of your busy schedule. Well, an easy solution would be to opt to have your groceries delivered, or schedule to pick them up from your grocery store. That way you yourself aren’t having to do the grocery shopping but you’re reaping the benefits of getting fresh healthy foods and cooking at home more often. Problem solved! 

So, when you’re looking for ways to conquer your obstacles focus on:

  • Addressing the limiting factors and beliefs that currently hold you back.
  • Identifying seasonal, or cyclical setbacks that cause you to stumble. (i.e. the holidays, travel, seasonal changes)
  • Any unique health circumstances that need to be accounted for.
what obstacles prevent you from achieving your new year's resolutions

Meal prepping is a great way to keep you committed to your nutrition goals this year.

Stay Flexible

Applying this seven-step process to your New Year’s resolutions can help you achieve your goals this year. And, while creating SMART goals and having a solid plan is well, smart. Knowing that things aren’t going to always go your way is an important truth you need to keep in the back of your mind. Life happens despite our plans and efforts to prepare for it. So, don’t be surprised if you have to tweak or adjust your goals or plans. Also, don’t be surprised if you start working towards your goal only to discover that what you planned isn’t working or you’re running into unforeseen problems. When you hit unexpected stumbling blocks or find that you’re not happy with the path you’re on don’t be afraid to switch things up and make tweaks. 

I remember when I first committed to working out 4 times per week. I was going in the evening after work and it was ok for a while. But then I began to become less motivated and found that I was too tired and mentally drained to go to the gym. I just wanted to go home and relax. That’s when I sat down, looked at my schedule, and decided to try working out in the morning before work. It was over 9 years ago that I made the discovery that I truly preferred morning workouts. And making that switch is what made fitness and regular exercise a habit that I’ve stuck to. Imagine if I would’ve been stubborn and tried to make myself stick to evening workouts because that’s just what I thought was best. Or, because I didn’t want to wake up earlier in the morning. I don’t think it would’ve become a true priority for me. So, stay open to making little tweaks and changes when you feel something isn’t working. Do what you need to do to reach your goals. 

remain flexible and adjust your new year's resolutions as needed

Find fun ways to overcome obstacles. Have you resolved to cook more in 2020? Take a cooking class or buy pretty cooking utensils to motivate you.

 

If You Need Help Along the Way

While goal setting and habit building seem pretty simple and easy in theory. It can be a challenge when you’re first starting out. Having someone guide you through the process of realizing how you can achieve your goals and create healthy habits may be what you need. I know that I personally wouldn’t have been able to achieve my goals without the proper tools that helped me do so. Hence, why I created the Create Healthy Habits Course. It’s the exact method I use to work towards my goals whether they are health and wellness-based, or self-development goals. I always come back to this method when there’s something I’m looking to accomplish. And, the coolest thing about this course is it’s completely FREE. I know what it’s like to want to make changes in your life but feeling as though you don’t have the resources and support to do so. Well, this course can be considered your free resource and tool. So, if you’re serious about making some solid changes this year and want a little guidance as to how to go about making those changes. I encourage you to enroll in the course. For more information, you can visit the Create Healthy Habits page here, or I can answer any questions you may have in the comments below. 

 

About the Author

women's health and wellness blogger: picture of me Kat an african american woman with black mid length curly hair standing outside on a sunny day smiling wearing a black sweater, purple scarf, and flare leg jeansHi, my name is Kathleen but you can call me Kat. I’m a health and wellness professional turned freelance writer and content creator.  You can find me on YouTube and Instagram. If you take the opportunity to visit me on my other platforms don’t hesitate to leave a message, I would love to hear from you!