Setting SMART New Year’s Resolutions

The toughest part of starting anything—especially a health-promoting plan—is making your health a top priority. You—and only you—are in charge of your choices—and more than capable of achieving a realistic New Year’s resolution. Just start here.

Setting SMART New Year’s goals

Can you guess why so many resolutions fail? “People initially set their goals too high or don’t take the time to plan how they will accomplish their resolutions,” says Simon A. Rego, PsyD, a cognitive behavioral therapist and assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

Given that many people expect too much in too little time, Rego suggests trying the SMART theory for planning a successful resolution—or any other kind of behavioral change. It goes like this:

  • S-Specific: Decide exactly what you are going to do, when you will you it, and where. Make it clearly defined and simple.
  • M-Measurable: Set up a plan for how you’ll measure your progress. What steps will you take that will demonstrate you’re moving forward? What are the milestones you’ll reach along the way?
  • A-Attainable: Make it reasonable. Setting a goal to lose 50 pounds in 3 months can backfire because it’s unlikely to happen in any sustainable way. How about aiming to lose 5 to 8 pounds a month for X number of months? Or set a resolution focused on behaviors—such as attending your WW Workshop every week.
  • R-Rewarding: When you get enjoyment out of taking steps toward your goal and celebrate your accomplishments - no matter how small - you’ll be more likely to keep doing them.
  • T-Time-limited: Set an end date. Keeping goals open ended can lead to kicking the can down the road. Instead, aim to accomplish your goal in a certain period (keeping high priority on it being attainable!).

With a SMART approach, coming up with a reasonable resolution is doable. And if you follow these guidelines, you have a much better chance for success.

Rego says focusing on what’s going well is a critical aspect of keeping your resolution. “Focus on the benefits of achieving your resolution versus the costs in working for it,” he suggests.

Use these 5 thought-starters to set SMART resolutions.

  1. Get back on your regular workout schedule.

    If you’re looking to resume your workouts, determine a realistic frequency and timing to take it back up. For example, commit to attending a post-work yoga class twice per week. (Pre-purchasing classes can help motivate you to make it happen.)

  2. Eat more vegetables.

    “More vegetables, more often” can be your mantra for 2023. But to make that more specific: Try, “Add one new veggie to dinner meals I make at home this month,” which can have you experimenting with new recipes, flavors, and ZeroPoint™ foods you’ll love to cook and eat before you know it.

  3. Eat regular meals and snacks.

    Stashing a piece of produce in your purse can go a long way when you’re stuck waiting in line at the DMV or in traffic on your way home from work: A healthy snack can keep you from feeling ravenous—and potentially overeating—at your next meal. For specificity, make it your goal to pack at least one apple, pear, or bag of carrots in your bag every day so you can snack when you’re in transit.

  4. Drink more water.

    Drinking water has a myriad of benefits, but one of the unsung ones is that it forces you to get up and move periodically throughout the day. Hydrate (or at least find your way to the water cooler) every hour to get moving more often.

  5. Save more money.

    Start with mini budgeting goals. For example, if you’d like to work up to saving $50/week, start by saving $5/day on coffee and selected food items by making them at home. After a few weeks, prep a larger percent of your lunch to save even more.

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