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New Year, New You: Mental Preparation for Keeping Resolutions

Every year presents itself with a new opportunity to quit a bad habit, lose some extra weight, or even learn a new skill. This opportunity is what most people refer to as a New Year’s resolution and what most people know about a New Year’s resolution is that they are often ignored after the first four weeks of the New Year. So, how do you keep up the momentum and stick to your guns when pursuing your resolution? The answer is proper goal setting. Goal setting is more than writing down your ‘wants’ on a piece of paper. There is a method to the madness that many people need education on in order to fulfill their desires. Proper goal setting will keep you motivated, on task, as well as boost your self-confidence and overall happiness. It’s time to get SMART about goal setting and resolutions!


Effective goal setting starts with SMART goals. SMART goal setting has been researched and literature reports that this proper form of goal setting has improved motor performance and is an effective tool for weight loss (APA Division 47). SMART stands for the following:

Specific (Who, what, where, when, why)

Measurable (How much, How many, How will you know you have reached the goal)

Attainable (Can you figure out ways to make this happen)

Realistic (Do you fully believe you can reach this goal)

Timely (There should always be a time frame)

An example of a non-SMART goal would be: “I want to lose 30lbs this year”

A SMART goal would be: “I will work out 4 days a week in order to lose 30lbs by May 5th, so I can feel confident again”

The number one thing to remember when goal setting is your goal and the means to obtaining your goal can always be adjusted. Things are constantly changing, and there may be some setbacks, so it is important to remember that adjustment is just another step to achieving your goal (it is not failure).

After you have sat down and really put some thought into your resolution, and created your SMART goal, you must develop your plan of execution. Write down why you want to accomplish this goal as a reminder to yourself to keep you motivated and on track. Really be honest with yourself, even if it is scary or embarrassing. Getting real with yourself is always the first step to creating valuable goals. While discovering a plan to reach your ultimate goal (the big outcome), you will develop small steps called process goals. Process goals are the stepping stones to successfully conquering your goal. Ask yourself ‘what will it take to make it to the finish line?’ Will you need to increase your dumbbell weight each week? Will you set a process goal of smoking one less cigarette a week? Or, perhaps you will save $200 a month for that vacation you want to book for August. Whatever it may be you must write it all down! Keep a journal and a log of what you accomplished daily to reach your goals. Before you know it, you will see changes and developments that will bring you closer to your end result. Seeing these small accomplishments will create more self-confidence, self-control, and motivation to keep moving forward.

Now that you have the right tools to help you create a successful plan to keep your resolution, take some time before the big countdown to really discover what it is you want to accomplish. Do not limit yourself! Take this opportunity and make it your own! Happy goal setting!