For many people, the New Year symbolizes not only another calendar year, but an opportunity to commit to new goals. Every year, many of us come up with our own New Year’s resolutions to guide us in the upcoming year. A 2015 survey showed that some of the most common resolutions include losing weight, getting organized, saving money, enjoying life and staying healthy (Statistic Brain, 2015). Although we usually hope to maintain our resolutions throughout the year, it is typical for resolutions to be forgotten or buried under other responsibilities. In fact, while 75% of resolution-makers tend to stick to their resolutions during the first week of the New Year, only 46% manage to maintain their resolutions after six months (Statistic Brain, 2015). Fortunately, psychologists have thought up some useful rules for coming up with New Year’s resolutions that we can keep.
S.M.A.R.T. goals refer to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. The S.M.A.R.T. goal criteria are sometimes used in business settings to help business leaders create goals for future operations, but they can be applied equally as well to the creation of New Year’s resolutions. Specific goals consider the ‘who, what, when, where, why, and how’ of each goal. Knowing exactly who will be involved, what resources you need, where you will complete your goal, why you chose the goal and how you will follow through helps in the creation of goals you can keep. Measurable goals are those that you can count your progress towards. For instance, if your goal is to lose weight, you might count how many pounds are lost each week. Achievable goals can reasonably be accomplished, and Relevant goals are those that are worth putting effort towards. Finally, goals should be Time-bound, meaning that a target deadline is applied for completing the goal or completing a step towards the goal (The Conversation, 2016; MindTools, 2016).
In addition to setting S.M.A.R.T. goals, successful resolutions can be set by involving friends and family in our commitment to our resolutions. Asking for support is a great way to find resources to bring you closer to your goal (APA, 2016). For example, you may have a friend or family member who excels at financial planning and can offer good advice if you are resolving to save money. Friends and family are witnesses to much of our behavior and can remind us to stay committed to our resolutions when we start to slip (The Conversation, 2016). It might be difficult to share personal resolutions with others, but doing so can greatly increase the chance of achieving a resolution (Kruse, 2016).
Of course, slip-ups do occur. It’s okay to make mistakes, because we can always choose to recommit to our resolutions and keep trying (Kruse, 2016). With these tips in mind, we can enjoy New Year’s Eve with the promise of a successful year to come.
APA. (2016). Making your New Year’s resolution stick. Retrieved from
Kruse, K. (2016). A psychologist’s secrets to making New Year’s resolutions stick.
MindTools. (2016). SMART goals: How to make your goals achievable. Retrieved from
Statistic Brain. (2015). New Year’s resolution statistics. Retrieved from
The Conversation. (2016). The psychology of New Year’s resolutions. Retrieved from