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Taking a New Look at New Year’s Resolutions

December 29, 2021

Family holding a sign that says 2022

It’s that time of the year again. Time to get serious and set some goals — goals that you hope will actually come to fruition this time around!

If you weren’t entirely successful last year with following through on your resolutions, don’t be too hard on yourself. You aren’t alone. According to a study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, less than half of the people who make New Year’s resolutions are successful in achieving them. 

But that’s no reason to be discouraged. This year can and will be different if you set goals that are SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. Properly written, SMART goals can ensure you a 100 percent chance of sticking to your resolutions.

In this article, we’ll look at some SMART resolutions that can help you meet your goals for 2022. 

Top Resolutions

From year to year, New Year’s resolutions don’t change a lot. Two top goals that appear, without fail, are “exercise more” and “lose weight.” Let’s see how applying the SMART approach can help you develop your resolutions.

Goal #1. Exercise More

If increasing your physical activity is your goal, be more specific than simply saying “I will exercise more.” 

First, consider what kind of exercise is reasonable for you. Then, specify when and how you will exercise. For example, if walking is your preferred exercise, you might say: “In 2022, I will walk three times a week instead of two times a week.” 

To make the goal measurable, you might add something like: “Using my pedometer, I will track the distance I walk by measuring my steps. I will increase my steps from 1,000 steps to 2,500 steps each time I walk.”

To determine if this goal is attainable, realistic, and timely, think about breaking the goal down into smaller steps.

For example, you might say: “By March, I will increase my steps to 1,500 steps two times a week. By June, I will increase my steps to 2,000 steps two times a week. And by December, I will reach 2,500 steps two times a week.”

Using the SMART strategy and the points we have outlined, you now have the tools and language to create a specific, attainable, written resolution. 

Here is an example:

“To increase my exercise in 2022, I will walk two times a week. I will track my steps using my pedometer. I will start by walking 1,000 steps two times a week. By February, I will walk 1,500 steps two times a week. By June, I will increase my steps to 2,000 two times a week. And by January 2023, I will be walking 2,500 steps two times a week.”

Goal #2: Lose Weight

Using the SMART approach, consider what specific weight loss you would like to achieve by January 2023. Let’s say it is 24 pounds, or two pounds a month. Using that number, how will you measure that weight loss? Also consider: Is the 24-pound number fully attainable and realistic? Will you need to change some of your dietary habits to help you meet your goal? And how will you break down your weight loss into timely goals? 

Here is an example of a specific, attainable, written resolution: 

“I will lose 24 pounds in 2022, with the goal of losing and maintaining a weight loss of two pounds a month. To accomplish this, I will track and maintain a calorie intake of 2,000 calories a day, increasing my intake of vegetables and fruit and cutting back on sugar. I will also increase my steps from 1,000 to 2,500 two times a week to maximize my exercise. I will weigh myself weekly on Fridays. By June 2022, I will have lost 12 pounds and by January 2023, I will have lost 24 pounds.

Note: For advice on how to improve your diet, Riverside’s registered dietitians can suggest practical tools that can improve your overall health and quality of life. Go to Outpatient Clinical Nutrition for more information.

Other Top Goals and Resolutions: 

The SMART approach may be used for other top New Year’s resolution goals such as:

  1. Quitting smoking
  2. Spending more time with family
  3. Reducing stress
  4. Getting organized
  5. Improving quality of life
  6. Saving money/spending less
  7. Traveling more
  8. Reading more

Some of these resolutions may require collaboration with your doctor. For example, for quitting smoking, you will want to explore strategies such as nicotine-replacement therapy, classes designed to help you stop smoking, counseling, exercise, and medication. Riverside website offers tips and advice on how to quit. See: How to Quit Smoking For Good.

Put Your Resolutions in Writing

When you create a written document, you are reinforcing your objectives and reminding yourself to stay on target.

Coming up with thoughtful, well-stated resolutions is a good way to ensure you will keep them. Hang them in a place where you will see them regularly. You might even want to take a photo of your resolutions and post them as your computer screensaver or use them as your smart phone wallpaper.

This encourages you to review your progress and reinforce your “mission” on a consistent basis. 

Ask friends and family members for Support

Design goals that can be accomplished with a partner. Consider teaming up with a friend or spouse to accomplish a goal together. It makes things fun, and you won’t be tempted to give up if someone else is counting on you.

Expect Some Setbacks

We all know that despite your best laid plans, there may be setbacks. Some goals, such as quitting smoking, are far more difficult than others. When there’s a slipup and you lose traction, get back on track and start again. You haven’t failed, you’ve just temporarily lost your way.

Keep in mind that we are all motivated—and sometimes triggered—by different things. Keep your eyes on the prize, take one step at a time and savor the progress you have made. 

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